December 8, 2022

Arizona looking to avoid another winless season

Arizona Wildcats Football

Arizona quarterback Will Plummer throws a pass against Colorado Saturday December 9, 2020.. Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

The Wildcats are one of two Power Five teams without a victory approaching week four of September, and it could get worse down the stretch.

New Coach Jedd Fisch’s tenure has started off the roughest way imaginable. As of now there doesn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel, with Arizona riding a 15-game losing streak. The 45-year old doesn’t deserve the criticism he’s receiving, considering Kevin Sumlin left the cupboard pretty bare.

Losing to BYU and San Diego is acceptable because both teams are undefeated. However, letting little brother come to Arizona Stadium and pull off the upset is flat-out embarrassing for the program. Northern Arizona had lost its’ previous two games by double digits to FCS foes also.

There’s a glaring talent gap between the Wildcats and the rest of the Pac-12. Fish’s offense is only averaging a mere 78.6 yards per game on the ground. Not to mention Arizona is averaging 16.3 points per game, which ranks 120th in the FBS. So there’s no denying his scheme will need time to gel with the staff and players.

Fisch has played musical chairs with his quarterbacks also. Jordan McCloud, Gunner Cruz and Will Plummer have all taken snaps behind center this season. Cruz passed for 336 yards against the Cougars. Plummer has 300 yards through the air over the past two games, but was picked off twice against the Lumberjacks. McCloud complete six of his seven passes for 66 yards and a touchdown last Saturday.

Still, the Wildcats have no rusher in their backfield that scares anyone. Quite frankly, the programs hasn’t had All-Pac-12 caliber rusher since J.J. Taylor. That has resulted in all the pressure being put on the signal-callers and the trio have combined for 778 passing yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.

Protecting the quarterbacks in the pocket has been an issue too, and Arizona has allowed 10 sacks.

On the defensive side of the ball there’s been some promise. The Wildcats are allowing 27.6 points per game, and besides the blowout against the Aztecs, the defense has kept the team in games. Regardless, the unit has been tender against the run and allowing nearly 200 yards per game.

That’s something Fisch is going to have to fix in time for Pac-12 play. In hindsight it’s looking like it’s going to be a long season for the first-year coach. The next two games are against ranked opponents, including the No. 3 team in the country on the road.

Arizona (0-3) is going to have to pull an upset just to get a single win. At this point Fisch will do himself a favor by getting a lot of his young players reps. Replacing leadership, experience and production is priceless and for now Arizona fans are going to need patience.

Despite Fisch not being the home run hire fans wanted, he still deserves four years to bring some credibility back to the Wildcats and it’s still any given autumn Saturday. Once everyone buys into Fisch’s vision, things will start flourishing. It’s just right now it’s going to be tough sledding for a while until he get the players that fits his scheme.