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Jedd Fisch not concerned with Jayden de Laura’s mounting turnover count

A Brett Favre comparison was made by Arizona’s coach

arizona-wildcats-football-jedd-fisch-jayden-delaura-turnovers-mississippi-state-brett-favre-2023 Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona single-season record for interceptions thrown is 18, by Ed McCauley in 1958. That was during a 10-game season in which McCauley only attempted 138 passes.

Based on the first two games of the 2023 season, Jayden de Laura is on pace to obliterate that mark.

De Laura has thrown five interceptions in 70 attempts and also lost a fumble. Extrapolate that over 12 contests and it comes out to 30 picks and 36 turnovers, the latter number eight more than any UA team has had as a whole over the last 15 years and only seven shy of the school record.

But while Arizona fans are no doubt at their wit’s end over the mistakes of de Laura, who threw four interceptions in the 31-24 overtime loss at Mississippi State including three in the first quarter, coach Jedd Fisch isn’t making a big deal out of them.

If anything, he went out of his way to defend and/or justify those miscues, with very little blame passed on the passer.

“Nothing’s going to change,” Fisch said Monday. “We’re gonna keep slinging it. We’re gonna keep running our offense.”

That response was to a question as to what he said to de Laura after the three first-quarter picks, but the answer summed up his entire stance on the junior quarterback. He cited de Laura’s “aggressive mentality” and mindset, equating him to Brett Favre and the Hall of Famer’s penchant for throwing picks. Favre is 4th in NFL history with 508 touchdown passes and first all-time with 336 interceptions.

“We used to say with Brett Favre that he would throw you a few of them, and if you catch them, it’s probably good for you, and if you don’t catch them it’s probably good for them,” Fisch said.

De Laura has five TDs and five interceptions this season, and in 14 games with Arizona has thrown for 30 scores and thrown 18 to the opponents. He’s also scored six rushing TDs, including both of the Wildcats’ rushing scores in 2023.

“Jayden understands that you don’t turn the ball over, but I didn’t see any of those throws that he made being careless or reckless,” Fisch said. “I’ve never seen two balls—one of them the interception, the first interception bounced off of a guy’s chest four yards forward and into some linebacker’s hands. I never thought I’d see that twice, but I saw it twice in the same game.”

Here’s how Fisch evaluated each interception:

  • Interception on first drive (game was scoreless in 1st quarter): “I thought that the first play, the first interception was a very, very good play by their defense. We needed to get T-Mac further over, he stopped short, we didn’t get our motion right on that. We didn’t motion like we were supposed to.”
  • Interception on second drive (Arizona down 7-0 in 1st quarter): “The interception on the corner route, I thought that free safety made a phenomenal play.”
  • Interception on third drive (Arizona down 14-0 in 1st quarter): “The third interception was a great job by their safety.”
  • Interception on 10th drive (Arizona down 24-21 in 4th quarter): “We needed to have a better a better route, and the ball winds up getting popped up in the air, and (de Laura) probably could have scrambled.”

Fisch was similarly defensive of de Laura’s two turnovers in the season-opening 38-3 win over NAU, chalking the interception up to a miscommunication between the QB and receiver while wishing de Laura would have scrambled sooner (and not tried to take on the defender) on his fumble that set up the Lumberjacks’ only score.

Thankfully, only three of de Laura’s six giveaways have led to points for the opponent. And on the flip side, he has been responsible for all seven offensive TDs this season, putting him on pace for 42 total TDs which would be nine more than Matt Scott’s school record of 33 from 2012.

De Laura finished 32 of 46 for 342 yards at MSU, tallying 386 of Arizona’s 431 yards of offense, and after those first three drives was 27 of 35 for 317 yards in regulation. His completion percentage through two games is 71.4, ahead of Nick Foles’ school record of 69.1 from 2011 and almost nine points better than his 2022 accuracy (62.5).

Fisch said he saw “no flinch” in de Laura after those three straight interceptions.

“Now maybe a year ago I would have, maybe there would have been a little bit different attitude, because I think it’s more about trust with Jayden, more than anything else,” Fisch said. “And if he believes that you believe in him, he’s not going to let you down, and he’s going to be in a spot where he’s going to be able to go out there and play, and that’s what I would expect. That’s what I expected. “For him to make that throw at the end of the half, after throwing three interceptions. For him to lead us on a 19-play drive after three interceptions, it’s pretty remarkable in a lot of ways. I don’t know if you see it everywhere. To go out there and then to make the plays he made, to make the scrambles he made, the throw to T-Mac in the endzone for a touchdown to tie it up. All those plays were big time plays that came from a big time player.”