The Arizona Wildcats are officially done with their out-of-conference schedule and came away 2-1. That wasn’t an easy feat to achieve playing the likes of San Diego State, Mississippi State and North Dakota State.
And with that, my deep dive looks at Arizona’s performance through the eyes of Pro Football Focus have returned.
After looking at the offense on Thursday, here’s how the Wildcat defense has performed:
- Highest/Lowest Overall: Paris Shand (86.6 vs San Diego St) / Shand (47.0 vs North Dakota St)
- Highest/Lowest Tackling: Jalen Harris (80.1 vs San Diego St) / Deuce Davis (33.9 vs San Diego St)
- Highest/Lowest Pass Rush: Hunter Echols (77.9 vs North Dakota St) / Shand (53.6 vs San Diego St)
- Highest/Lowest Run Defense: Shand (91.1 vs San Diego St) / Shand (45.9 vs North Dakota St)
- Highest/Lowest Coverage: Harris (71.6 vs San Diego St) / Echols (44.4 vs North Dakota St)
- Notes: The D-line has played pretty well to start the season. They dominated the line of scrimmage against SDSU and really set the tone of how this team will play this season. The group did take a step back against Mississippi St, however, they were still able to get pressure on Will Rogers. The line bounced back and took a few steps forward against the Bison. There were times they bent, but they didn’t break. There was a point where it looked like NDSU was going to run away with the game, but the line stepped up and helped the defense stop NDSU’s offense, securing the win.
Jalen Harris has continued to improve his play and Barrs has bounced back nicely after missing spring while recovering from surgery. Echols has been a fantastic addition by the staff and has really shown what he can do off the edge. The pleasant surprise has been Dion Wilson. He has been impactful almost every time he is in the game.
So far Harris and Echols have won Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week, which has been a rarity in Tucson for some time. It’ll be interesting to see how the line continues to develop as the season progresses.
- Highest/Lowest Overall: Jacob Manu (87.7 vs San Diego St) / Kolbe Cage (32.5 vs Mississippi St)
- Highest/Lowest Tackling: Jerry Roberts (84.3 vs North Dakota St) / Cage (31.7 vs Mississippi St)
- Highest/Lowest Pass Rush: Cage (60.2 vs San Diego St) / Roberts (51.5 vs Mississippi St)
- Highest/Lowest Run Defense: Manu (83.2 vs San Diego St) / Cage (29.1 vs Mississippi St)
- Highest/Lowest Coverage: Manu (72.0 vs North Dakota St) / Cage (28.9 vs North Dakota St)
- Notes: Linebacker play has been wildly inconsistent this season. Roberts is the best linebacker on the team and he has stepped up in a big way when the team needs him to. For instance, he was pivotal in Arizona’s fourth down stand to stop NDSU. He will need to improve his pass rushing.
Cage is going through it right now. He is definitely bigger than he was last year and you can see his potential. However, as a redshirt freshman, he is taking his lumps right now. He is also gaining much needed experience.
Finally, we come to true frosh Manu. He is going to be very good in my opinion as he gets older and gains more experience. He did admirably against NDSU and showed off his playmaking and ball-hawking skills. It’s impressive that he worked his way into a starting job after only arriving in June.
- Highest/Lowest Overall: Christian Roland-Wallace (75.3 vs San Diego St) / Treydan Stukes (58.7 vs North Dakota St)
- Highest/Lowest Tackling: CRW (82.5 vs North Dakota St) / Isaiah Rutherford (38.2 vs San Diego St)
- Highest/Lowest Pass Rush: CRW (60.0 vs North Dakota St) / Rutherford (58.2 vs San Diego St)
- Highest/Lowest Run Defense: CRW (67.2 vs San Diego St) / Stukes (42.8 vs North Dakota St)
- Highest/Lowest Coverage: CRW (75.7 vs San Diego St) / Rutherford (63.5 vs Mississippi St)
- Notes: DeWayne Walker has his guys ready to play every week. The corners are doing a fantastic job so far this season and they played very well during the OOC schedule. So far, the group has given up 144 yards and three touchdowns, on 14 catches from 23 targets. The catch percentage is a little high, but they have down a good job of limiting yardage and scores.
CRW is having another great year and, more importantly, Rutherford has upped his game as well. He has played extremely tight coverage and has been in the right position more times than I can remember last year. Stukes, who’s coming off an injury in fall camp, is working his way back and is looking better and better the more reps he gets.
Ideally, the group will tamp down on the completions and continue to make plays on the ball.
- Highest/Lowest Overall: Jaxen Turner (89.9 vs Mississippi St) / Christian Young (44.9 vs North Dakota St)
- Highest/Lowest Tackling: Turner (78.5 vs Mississippi St) / CY (43.8 vs North Dakota St)
- Highest/Lowest Run Defense: Turner (77.5 vs Mississippi St) / CY (39.4 vs North Dakota St)
- Highest/Lowest Coverage: Turner (88.8 vs Mississippi St) / CY (58.4 vs North Dakota St)
- Notes: First thing off the bat...the safety play has been WAY better than last season. The position group was a liability last season, no doubt. This year is a little different. They are definitely providing better coverage downfield and are doing a great job adjusting and playing the run.
Turner has taken a MAJOR leap in his game. He is tackling better, playing smarter, and has shown marked improvement in coverage. He made one of best big-boy plays I’ve seen from an Arizona safety since Will Parks laid out Jordan Villamin. Against MSU, Turner engaged the receiver, wrapped him up, and transitioned to ripping the ball out....and ripped it out like a grown man. He preceded to pick it up and ran it down the field for 47-yards.
CY has been struggled so far this season...surprisingly. He was a sure tackler last year, but that hasn’t materialized as of yet. Gunner Maldonado has also improved this season, playing in the nickel. He had a rough game against the Bulldogs, but has overall played better this year.
Credit to Chuck Cecil for getting his guys, for the most part, to take a step forward in their development and having them ready every game.