UTAH UTES

Arizona Has Nothing To Lose Heading Into Matchup With No. 14 Utah

Nov 4, 2022, 12:00 PM
Brant Kuithe - Utah Utes vs. Arizona Wildcats...
Tight end Brant Kuithe #80 of the Utah Utes runs with the football after a reception against the Arizona Wildcats during the third quarter of the NCAAF game at Arizona Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. The Utes defeated the Wildcats 38-29. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- Arizona is a team with nothing to lose heading into their matchup with No. 14 Utah this Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. After years of floating around the Conference of Champions a bit aimlessly, the Wildcats are much more wily than they have been in ages thanks to second-year head coach Jedd Fisch.

While their current record doesn’t necessarily show it (3-5 on the season, 1-4 in conference), Arizona has improved a lot and have a chance to gain bowl eligibility over the next four weeks by winning three games.

Over the last two years under coach Fisch, Arizona has shown they aren’t intimidated by the Pac-12’s “big fish” going toe-to-toe with the Utes last season in Tuscon and giving USC everything they had last week. Chances are high the Wildcats don’t feel any fear heading into RES tomorrow, and with once again give Utah a fight if they aren’t careful.

Examining Jedd Fisch’s Arizona Wildcats

Arizona head football coach Jedd Fisch has gone to work reworking the Wildcats from players on the field all the way to the culture off of the field. Rebuilding something that has been ruined or severely neglected for a long time is never an easy task, and while the Wildcats still have a way to go, are showing immediate signs of being on the right track under Fisch.

In the off-season Fisch utilized the transfer portal to bolster his roster with perhaps his biggest score coming from former Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura. The one-time Cougar has been pivotal for Arizona in transforming their offense into something more formidable. In 2022, de Laura has completed 200 passes for 2,564 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

On the receiving end of those de Laura passes for Arizona are wide receivers Jacob Cowing, Dorian Singer, and Tetairoa McMillan. The Wildcats also utilize tight end Tanner McLachlan in the pass game as well. Cowing leads all receivers with 60 receptions for 817 yards and seven touchdowns. Signer is next with 48 receptions for 746 yards and five touchdowns. McMillan adds 31 receptions and 532 yards along with six touchdowns. Finally, McLachlan has caught 25 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns.

Running back Michael Wiley is Arizona’s weapon of choice on the ground. Wiley has 67 carries so far this season for 346 yards and four touchdowns. He also gets a few looks through the air currently sitting at 20 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

While the Wildcats are fairly strong offensively, they still have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball. Their leaders at the moment are linebacker Jerry Roberts with 56 total tackles on the season and a fumble recovery. Safety Jaxen Turner has also been affective with 51 total tackles, one pass defended, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Overall, Arizona defensively can report nine total sacks, 23 passes defended, two interceptions, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. For comparison’s sack when stacked against Utah’s defense that currently has 19 total sacks, 18 passes defended, 10 interceptions, three pick sixes, five forced fumbles and five fumbles recovered.

 

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

 

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