The Kevin Sumlin era did not start out the way anyone wanted or thought that it would, losing 28-23 to BYU at home.
Let’s look at what we liked and what we didn’t:
UP: Colin Schooler and Tony Fields
Both players had pretty solid games for the most part. Both finished with double digit tackles. Schooler led the team with 16 while Fields was third with 11. Not much to really say here other than both made less mistakes than they did last year, which shows development.
DOWN: Arizona’s run defense
It continues to be a problem. It didn’t give up a crazy amount of yards, 183, but that unit couldn’t stop the run when it needed to. It was something that bit the Wildcats hard last season and it seems that it’s already starting to rear its ugly head right now. The ‘Cats will have to shore that up or it could be a difficult season defensively.
UP: Pass rush
The pass rush was actually pretty effective for the most part. It was a part of the defense that was non-existent for some time but now it’s going to be a part of the defense moving forward. Arizona will now have to work on finishing the rush and getting to the QB, but it is moving in the right direction.
DOWN: Offensive playcalling
Now I want to preface this by saying I’M NOT AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR. Ok, now, to me it felt that the playcalling was a little vanilla. I understand why it was, but it may have been too extreme. There were also some head-scratchers, like the 3-and-out after Arizona’s touchdown (and defensive stop) in the fourth quarter. I am unable to rationalize why you bomb it downfield, run up the middle, and bomb it downfield again. It’s something that will progress better with time, especially with a new and totally opposite offense than before.
UP: Lorenzo Burns, Isaiah Hayes and the secondary
The secondary actually played pretty well, except for a couple of errors by Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. The two standouts to me were Lorenzo Burns and Isaiah Hayes. Both players played out of their minds. Burns had three pass breakups and Hayes was around the ball and crushed people all night. Hayes finished second on the team with 13 tackles. He also had a stroke of bad luck as he swatted away a pass but it somehow landed in the hands of the BYU receiver. Tim Hough played pretty well and even Azizi Hearn was really solid in coverage.
DOWN: The entire third quarter
I’m not really sure what happened, but after a really solid first half, the ‘Cats came out “meh” in the second, and it cost them the game. Arizona ran single-digit plays in the third quarter while BYU had three touchdowns. Hard to win playing like that. That is something that HAS to change if the ‘Cats look to make it a good year.
I understand everyone’s frustration....but IT’S THE FIRST GAME. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t what people expected, but there is a lot of football to play. Things will change. Arizona went through regime change...it’s not easy to do.