A week of speculation has led to the expected development: quarterback Jayden de Laura will not play for Arizona against No. 7 Washington on Saturday night due to an ankle injury, opening the door for Noah Fifita to make his first career start.
Fifita, a redshirt freshman, came on for de Laura in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s 21-20 win at Stanford, leading Arizona on the game-winning touchdown drive and also icing the game with a second possession. He was 4 of 4 for 47 yards and ran twice for 10 yards.
De Laura had made the previous 16 starts for the Wildcats since transferring from Washington State but was ruled out after injuring his ankle on the final play of the third quarter at Stanford. This season he’s thrown for 1,069 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions, adding 131 rushing yards and three scores.
The last QB to start a game for Arizona other than de Laura was Will Plummer, who threw for a career-high 346 yards in a 38-15 loss at ASU to end the 2021 season.
Fifita’s backups will be true freshman Brayden Dorman and walk-on Cole Tannenbaum, the only other two QBs to warm up during pregame.
De Laura was not part of pregame warmups, coming onto the field about 45 minutes before kickoff in a red jersey and sweatpants. Same goes for running back Michael Wiley, who was injured in the first quarter at Stanford.
Jonah Coleman and senior DJ Williams filled in admirably for him, with Williams scoring the game-winning TD. That duo and sophomore Rayshon ‘Speedy’ Luke are expected to share the rushing workload.