Arizona Wildcats Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

·7 min read

Arizona Wildcats Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Arizona season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Arizona Wildcats Preview
Head Coach: Jedd Fisch, 2nd year at Arizona, 1-11
2nd year overall, 2-12
2021 Record: Overall: 1-11, Conference: 1-8
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Arizona Top 10 Players | Arizona Schedule & Analysis
2021 Preview

Arizona Wildcats Preview 2022

Baby steps.

Jedd Fisch had a complete overhaul to do when he took over as the head coach last season, and it started by trying play defense again at the University of Arizona.

Overall, the lines just weren’t there to hold up, the O was far worse than the D, and even when things sort of worked, there was an implosion of mistakes that screwed everything up. It took a COVID-depleted Cal to help the Wildcats get their one and only win, but things are different now. There’s a shot that for a huge improvement with a little bit of luck.

Arizona was all over the transfer portal, loaded up with a fantastic recruiting class, and now there’s actual depth to go along with what should be a far better starting 22. It’s not time to think Pac-12 Championship yet, but the fan base will finally have a more competitive team to get fired up about.

Arizona Wildcats Preview 2022: Offense

Injuries played a huge part in the 2021 disaster, and not getting enough from the line turned out to be the biggest issue. There wasn’t enough from the running game, the pass protection wasn’t there, and there wasn’t any scoring punch with the O hitting the 20 point mark just two times. That’s about to change.

Again, injuries were an issue. The quarterback situation was never quite settled, but that’s about to change with Washington State transfer Jayden de Laura coming in to start winging the ball around. He was a terrific get, and UTEP WR Jacob Cowing – 141 catches, 2,595 yards, 13 touchdowns averaging over 18 yards per grab for the Miners – might be even bigger. But …

Can the line give everyone time to work? Transfers and freshmen – like new recruit Jonah Savaiinaea at guard – should help the front five turn into a positive as the year goes on. Michael Wiley is a good veteran back with some nice freshmen behind him, but to keep this going, they need room to move.

Arizona Wildcats Preview 2022: Defense

The Arizona defense wasn’t great, but it was a whole lot better. Considering the offense didn’t help the cause in any way, finishing fifth in the Pac-12 in total D was a miracle.

No, the secondary wasn’t great, and the red zone defense was the worst in college football, but the defense wasn’t awful on third downs, it fought the good fight over and over again, and it allowed over 400 yards in total offense just five times after giving up that many in all five games in 2020 and 11 times in 12 2019 games.

Eight starters are expected back and, like the offense, the help is coming from the transfer portal and recruiting class.

There’s decent size up front and there’s a little bit of depth now. Kyon Barrs is the All-Pac-12 caliber nose for everything to work around, and the freshmen who took their lumps last year will form a good rotation on both sides. The pass rush has to come from the linebacking corps, and it starts with USC transfer Hunter Echols playing a big role. However …

Arizona likes to get as many defensive backs on the field as possible, and they can hit. Christian Young is a 6-3, 222-pound hybrid safety who works well in the Viper role, and the hope is for UCLA transfer DJ Warnell to shine as a nickel defender. The corner tandem of Christian Roland-Wallace and Treydan Stukes will quietly be good if the pass rush can help.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Arizona Top 10 Players | Arizona Schedule & Analysis

Arizona Wildcats: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

Arizona Wildcats: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

Arizona Wildcats: Key To The 2022 Offense

Stop turning the ball over
The real key is the offensive line being better, but that’s already been brought up a jillion times in this. There’s that, and the O has to stop shooting itself in the foot.

Arizona had a real shot to push past Oregon, but five interceptions later in an avalanche of mistakes, and it was a 41-19 loss. The O gave it up multiple times in seven of the last ten games. The team might be better, but it has to be on the right side of the turnover margin. And that means …

Arizona Wildcats: Key To The 2022 Defense

Start taking the ball away
Yes, the defense really was a whole lot better than previous versions, but considering the offense was struggling, the defense didn’t do a whole lot to create breaks.

The D forced three takeaways against Northern Arizona, and it got two more against UCLA – the Cats lost both games. Over the other ten games, you came up with one less takeaway than the Arizona defense did.

No takeaways in the final four games, no fumble recoveries and one interception over the final seven – that has to change.

Arizona Wildcats: Key Player To The 2022 Season

QB Jayden de Laura, Soph.
Go ahead and pick any of the offensive linemen as a key player to the season, but no matter what, the Wildcats have to get steadier – and healthy – quarterback play.

The 2021 offense used three different quarterbacks and wide receiver Jamarye Joiner – he threw ten passes with two scores in some funky sets – with injuries and inconsistency the problem. de Laura – a Washington State transfer – should be just the passer who can finally get the chains moving.

Arizona Wildcats: Key Transfer

DE Hunter Echols, Sr.
Jayden de Laura might be the most important transfer, and UTEP’s Jacob Cowing is the best new guy, but the defense can go up a few notches – and the takeaways should start to come – with a better pass rush.

That’s where the 6-5, 245 transfer from USC should come in. Echols only came up with 1.5 sacks and 50 tackles in his four years with the Trojans, but now he’s getting every opportunity to take over on the end and make the job his.

Arizona Key Game To The 2022 Season

Arizona State, Nov. 25
Just for the pride of the program, beating Arizona State would be a giant deal beyond just taking back the Territorial Cup. Last year’s 38-15 loss was a close shave compared to the 70-7 nightmare to close out 2020, but it was still the fifth straight loss and sixth in seven games.

This time around, there’s a chance it might be for six wins and a bowl game if everything breaks right. No matter what, getting the home victory would be a big step forward.

Arizona Wildcats: 2021 Fun Stats

– Penalties: Arizona 105 for 845 yards – Opponents 82 for 868 yards
– 4th Down Conversions: Arizona 18-of-28 (64%) – Opponents 4-of-8 (50%)
– Red Zone Scores: Opponents 37-of-38 (97%) – Arizona 29-of-39 (74%)

Offense. Defense Breakdown | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Arizona Top 10 Players | Arizona Schedule & Analysis

Arizona Wildcats Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

Arizona Wildcats Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Arizona is one of the tougher preseason calls when it comes to talent and how good the team is going to be.

The huge infusion of new parts, and the potential rise in young talent that got into the mix last year, should be enough to make this a far better team with the potential to rise up and make a big splash after the 1-11 campaign.

Here’s the problem – where are the sure wins? There isn’t a two-foot putt in non-conference play – at San Diego State, Mississippi State, North Dakota State – and it’s going to take a few home shockers to come close to pulling off six wins and bowl eligibility.

Set The Arizona Wildcats Regular Season Win Total At … 4

Colorado is gettable, Washington State and Arizona State are possible 50/50 games late in the season, and there’s a shot at taking out SDSU or NDSU if everything comes together fast.

So very, very sheepishly set the bar at four wins, but a hot start might make that look ridiculously low.

Offense. Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Arizona Top 10 Players | Arizona Schedule & Analysis

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News