After a strong finish to last season and an impressive showing in the spring, many predicted Arizona Wildcats wideout Shawn Poindexter would have a breakout year in 2018.
Well, it’s happening.
Poindexter has 11 catches for 202 yards through two games, including a career-high seven catches for 134 yards in Saturday’s game at Houston. Pro Football Focus gave him a 86.9 grade for that performance, the highest among all Pac-12 receivers.
Week 2 Pac-12 Team of the Week - Offense pic.twitter.com/kCX4WIcX5h— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 12, 2018
But Arizona was blown out and had a disappointing loss to BYU the week before, so Poindexter hasn’t been able to enjoy his newfound success.
“I was just talking with my father the other day and I was telling him that ‘yeah, it was nice to show the world what I can do’ but at the expense of a loss like that (to Houston), it’s like I can’t really enjoy that,” he said.
Poindexter is on track to become Arizona’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Cayleb Jones in 2014. He’s also the first Wildcats player with 200 or more receiving yards in the first two games of a season since Austin Hill in 2012 and just the fifth since 2000 to do so.
Poindexter, who only tallied 294 receiving yards last season, says his improvement stems from the confidence the new coaching staff has in him.
“They trust me and they want to get me the ball,” he said.
While Poindexter is putting up big numbers, Arizona’s offense has been sporadic and mostly anemic this season, averaging just 5.0 yards per play, ranking 81st in FBS. Even worse, the Wildcats are only averaging 19.5 points per game, despite running 85.5 plays per game.
Quarterback Khalil Tate, who has had an underwhelming year so far despite garnering an abundance of preseason recognition, said the struggles can partly be attributed to “growing pains”, given the Wildcats are implementing a new system under a new coaching staff.
“Most definitely,” he said. “Anytime you get a new coaching staff and a whole new system, especially under a young quarterback, you expect growing pains and guys are still learning it and guys are still trusting it, so you can expect growing pains anytime there’s a new coaching staff coming into the picture.”
Still, Poindexter believes the Wildcats will figure things out eventually. Maybe then he will get to revel in his emergence as the team’s go-to receiver.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it. I’m not going to go into details, but we’ll get it cleaned up,” he said. “The guys still believe. We all still believe in Coach (Kevin) Sumlin’s philosophy. We believe in our coaching staff as well. We can turn this around. “