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Jedd Fisch, Arizona players were confident this success would come

arizona-football-jedd-fisch-pac-12-dalton-johnson-ap-dave-heeke-arizona-state Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a complete 360 degree turn for Arizona football since Jedd Fisch’s first year of taking over the reins in 2021.

During that first year, UA finished the season with a 1-11 record and Fisch knew they still had to find their identity.

"We talked about that first year, I really felt like it was Year Zero,” Fisch said after Saturday's 42-18 win over Utah, the Wildcats' fifth in a row. “I felt like we had to really just figure out who we were going to be, what did we want the program to look like? How are we going to lay the foundation?”

From year one to two, Arizona improved from having the worst scoring offense in the Pac-12 (17.17) and jumping to seventh in year two (30.83).

“We became exciting,” Fisch said. “People wanted to watch us, people wanted to be a part of it. Defensive players want to transfer in, and young players want to keep coming, and because of that bridge allowed us to get to where we are today.”

Today Arizona is 8-3 and on the longest winning streak since 2013-14. UA is ranked No. 17 in the College Football Playoff rankings, it's highest spot in nine years.

Before the season, Fisch said he could feel his team was going to be good.

“I thought we were really good, I’ve just thought this way,” Fisch said. “I thought it all training camp. I told Dave (Heeke) that when he would come out to practice, I told the President that when he would come out during training camp. We just felt were good.”

Safety Dalton Johnson has seen the ups and downs of Arizona football the past three years and said he expected them to turn out this way.

“Our seniors and the guys that are here have been with us for three years," Johnson said. "They’ve dealt with some adversity in the early part of their career. They’ve dealt with adversity as we’re trying to build this program to where we want it to be. And now hopefully they’re feeling some fruits of their labor.”