We’re well into June and, therefore, summer workouts are well underway. If you know me or have read some of my previous work, you’ll know that I take pleasure from the simple things in life: friends, family, basketball coaches that play zones occasionally, head football coaches that pretend to have a moral compass, etc. And as a simple man, I, as a student at the UA, don’t need to see a ton from the football program. However, here is what I want to see:
I don’t want to see the same four plays run every damn possession
I know there are nuances, blocking schemes and routes run that differentiate each run up the middle from the next, but it’s tiresome. And, in Arizona’s case, not too effective, either. Arizona was third in the country in rushing offense, averaging 309.3 yards/game, but Khalil Tate averaged 153 of those yards per game. My U of A math skills tell me that, taking Tate’s yardage out of the team total, Arizona’s running backs averaged only 156.3 yards per game — a number which would have been good for 76th in the country.
The offense under RichRod was also way too run heavy. Arizona ran 613 running plays last season compared to just 295 passing attempts. That’s not the blue print to a successful offense ran by Tate.
Furthermore, there seemed to be only two successful pass plays ran. One was a medium length play where Tate would hit a receiver cutting back up the sideline, and the other where Tate would hit an outside receiver either running a post that brought him within the hash marks or a fly route. Variability? What variability?
Can the defense average less than 30 points given up per game?
Last year, the defense gave up 34.38 points per game. The year before that? 38.3. UA’s defense gave up 35.8 PPG in 2015. The last year that the ‘Cats gave up less than 30 PPG was 2014, when they gave up 28.2 PPG. Coincidentally, that was also was the most successful year under Rich Rodriguez, when he led Arizona to the Fiesta Bowl.
Now, Marcel Yates is heading into his fourth season as the defensive coordinator. He’s never averaged under 30 PPG. However, the players obviously love Yates –- including offensive players — because they advocated for him to take over for Rodriguez. It’s time for Yates to make improvements. Let’s hope it was all just RichRod’s fault.
Kevin Sumlin may be the it factor for Arizona’s defense. UA was undersized, and thus utterly dominated, in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball. Sumlin has already added a few large men on both the offensive and defensive lines. Hopefully that’ll be the spark that Arizona needs to finally play big boy defense.
The ‘Cats gave up 471.2 yards per game last season, 185.1 on the ground and 286.1 in the air. Adding size on the interior defensive line should force teams to throw the ball more. Arizona’s opponents ran the ball on average 40.1 times per game and threw the ball only 37.9. Furthermore, Arizona’s size up front should limit the time opposing quarterbacks have to throw the ball, forcing more mistakes. As Armchair’s Logan Jakubajtys wrote, redshirt sophomore corner back Lorenzo Burns is a ball hawk of a corner. If UA’s front seven can force opposing QB’s to make some mistakes, Burns and Co. will be able to capitalize.
Sumlin’s ability to recruit beefy D-linemen should help Arizona’s defense have their best season since Marcel Yates took over the defensive coordinator position.
I WANT TO SEE BOTH THE ZONAZOO AND ARIZONA STADIUM FREAKING PACKED
Kevin Sumlin’s first move after being hired was to give the program back to the community. He embraced the program’s history, and he embraced Tucson. Most importantly, he embraced Rincon Market (shout out RM for having bomb-ass tofu burgers). (Editor’s note: Can you tell we’re out west?)
We need to reward him for that. The first few home games of the season are night games, so heat can’t and shouldn’t be an excuse not to go. And you can bet that Larry Scott is going to schedule all of Zona’s conference home games at night too, because screw us. Whatever. Show up!
And to the students, enough people voted in the National Collegiate Student Section Association popularity contest, so now we have the (COMPLETELY UNDESERVED – trust me, I was there) title of student section of the year. Now we have to prove that we deserve that title. Show up early. Be loud. Demand excellence. The athletic department just poured millions of dollars into our section of Arizona Stadium. Utilize it.
I want your questions
Send in any questions you want answered or comments you would like replied to, and I’ll answer as many as I can at the end of my content this summer!
Disclaimer: The author is a member of the ZonaZoo, and will be at every home game that doesn’t conflict with his women’s soccer coverage, and he’ll be live tweeting the game on Twitter @ArmchairZona if the damn Wifi in the stadium will work.