The world will get its first glimpse at an unhindered-by-play calling Khalil Tate right out of the gates. The Wildcats begin their 2018 campaign at home against Brigham Young University on ESPN.
It’s been two years since the ‘Cats played BYU. Arizona began the 2016 season against the Cougars, but it was a weird game since it was at The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Arizona didn’t score in the first half of that game and didn’t reach the endzone until the fourth quarter as Anu Solomon went 20-30 with 2 picks for 213 yards in an incredibly lackluster and foreshadowing matchup. BYU won 18-16 on a game-winning field goal. Fun fact about me: singing ‘Bear Down’ before that game was when I came to the realization that I couldn’t go to any other school.
It is worth noting, however, that Arizona began the 2016 season with a loss, but ended their season by beating ASU 56-35 without throwing a pass in the second half.
The Cougars had a fairly disappointing 2017 season. They went 4-9 — at their worst point losing to East Carolina to drop to a 1-7 record before ending the season on a somewhat better note — beating Portland State, San Jose State, UNLV and Hawai’i. They also went 0-1 against the Pac-12, losing 19-13 to Utah. Among their worst performances, BYU lost 40-6 to Wisconsin and was shut out 27-0 by LSU.
BYU got beat last year in the air more so than on the ground. They gave up 225.2 aerial yards per game compared to 147.6 rushing yards. Furthermore, the Cougars gave up 19 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns. This breakdown falls right into Khalil Tate’s hands. His ability to throw the deep bomb over the top of the BYU defense will create space between the safeties and linebackers, space that will help Arizona two-fold. First, it’ll give receivers more one-on-one coverage in the flat. It’ll also give Tate more room to toy with safeties and corners. Tate’s throwing will open up BYU’s defense, giving him room to then run through the Cougars.
Furthermore, the season opener should be a good test for the new and improved defensive line. Arizona’s defensive line was a glaring weakness at points during last season, but head coach Kevin Sumlin added some big bodies in the short time he had to recruit. Adam Plant, a 6-5, 245 pound defensive end out of Bishop Gorman, signed with UA last week. He’s Arizona’s only four star recruit.
Week one should be a litmus test of sorts for the defensive line because the BYU coaching staff is banking on their offensive line being good. “They have to be. They have one of the best O-line coaches as their coordinator and a great up and coming O-line coach. That’s some great knowledge so they better be good,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said, according to Byucougars.com.
There’s no reason Arizona shouldn’t beat this BYU team. Arizona isn’t starting the season off against NAU, so it puts more pressure on the ‘Cats to be ready for week one, but BYU is still pretty bad. RichRod’s out. No more NAU. Let’s play big boy football. An Arizona loss to BYU would signal another utter failure of a season is upon us.
One last reminder: THE GAME IS BEING PLAYED IN TUCSON, SO FANS NEED TO SHOW UP! ESPECIALLY STUDENTS! FILL THE ZOO! (Editor’s note: Please forgive Max, he just shotgunned a Monster energy drink a la eighth grade and has now forgotten how to type without caps lock on.)
Both Tony Ellison and Shun Brown were Tate’s deep threats last season. If Tate’s going to keep putting up highlights week in and week out with his mobility, he’ll have to keep defenses honest — we saw last year against Oregon what happens when a defense can take away an aspect of his game. A significant part of that will be threatening over the top. Both Ellison and Brown averaged over 40 yards per reception (Editor’s note: Holy &$^% what is that a typo?). Tate and Sumlin need to maintain the two as deep threats, forcing defenses to commit to them and give Tate and the shallow game space to roam or risk giving up the long ball.
Who are top projected commits for next year's basketball team?
— jack bigbee (@BigbeeJack) June 11, 2018
I’m really excited to watch Justin Coleman. He’s not really a recruit because he’s a grad transfer, but he’s going to thrive next year. Sure, he’s a good shooter with plus court vision and the ability to beat defenders off the ball and draw others in, but that’s not necessarily why. He’s a leader. The ‘Cats haven’t had a definitive leader for the past few years, and Coleman is going to be a loud voice on the court. Arizona desperately needs that.