Arizona Football: Week 1 Game Notes and Analyzing the Offensive Line

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 04: Quarterback Gunner Cruz #9 of the Arizona Wildcats calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the Brigham Young Cougars during the Good Sam Vegas Kickoff Classic at Allegiant Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cougars defeated the Wildcats 24-16. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 04: Quarterback Gunner Cruz #9 of the Arizona Wildcats calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the Brigham Young Cougars during the Good Sam Vegas Kickoff Classic at Allegiant Stadium on September 4, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cougars defeated the Wildcats 24-16. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

With the match-up against BYU officially in the books, here are some of my top takeaways from Arizona Football in Week One.

It was a relatively good first week for Arizona Football all things considered, especially with where the Wildcats and the state of their program were just nine months ago.

However, at the end of the day, the Wildcats still suffered another loss, and Arizona currently owns the longest active losing streak in college football at 13 straight losses.

So with week one officially over, and the focus turning toward San Diego State, we look at some of the major takeaways in Arizona’s loss to BYU.



  1. The Running Backs Michael Wiley & Drake Anderson – The Wildcats’ backfield combined for 193 yards of offense. I like the running back by committee and would like to see a third RB added to the mix if possible as well.
  2. The Wide Receivers – Berryhill -12 Rec/102 yards, Casteel 5 Rec/53 yards and 1 touchdown, Long 29 yards, Cunningham 4 Rec/59 Yds, Long 26 yards and had a long kick off return of 36 yards, showing his athleticism leaping over a defender that set up a Cats Touchdown. I expect Boobie Curry to get going against San Diego State and it is possible Jamarye Joiner comes out of injury status and plays.
  3. Quarterback – Overall, Cruz looked confident despite throwing an interception and waiting too long to release the ball at times. However, those are all easy fixes and I am sure the coaching staff is already addressing those issues. Cruz’s size at 6-foot-5, 227 is impressive. He showed he is capable of willing his way to a 1st down on 4th and 1, by converting two QB sneaks. I liked his confidence and the way he took charge of the offense, barking out instructions. He also showed for a guy his size, he has mobility and is not scared to put the ball down and run if he needs to and yet being smart to get out of bounds or slide to avoid injury. He also showed that he knows how to check down to his Running Backs when he doesn’t see a look downfield. He does need to do better finding more open zones downfield, he did miss some opportunities but at least he did check down a couple of times that still led to yards. I am sure the coaches are already tuning in and assisting him on his downfield reads in practice. His big arm, size, and physical presence are huge pluses. I think Cruz has to be considered the No. 1 QB heading into Week 2.
  4. Defense – Much improved. Trevon Mason willed his way to lead the Safety efforts. He penetrated the line of scrimmage quick, fast, and in a hurry, and got to the ball carrier first, with the rest of the defense roaring behind him. It was a huge play and momentum builder. The Cats ran to the ball all night, and I would have liked to see more than the one sack that was made by Kyon Barrs. I’m sure there’s more where that came from moving forward.
  5. Special Teams – Kyle Ostendorp did an excellent job. He was money flipping the field all night and all his punts were boomers all with impressive hang time.
  6. Cornerbacks / Secondary – The starting Corners looked pretty good, Christian Roland-Wallace in particular gave his man little breathing room all night and Gunner Maldonado stood out as a hustler and hard-hitter.

My Players of the Game

  • Offense – Stanley Berryhill III, had his game face and focus on all night. He went hard from the start all the way through and went the extra mile by picking up tough first down yardage.
  • Defense – Trevon Mason, led the charge on the safety, he was not to be denied on Saturday evening.
  • Special Teams – Kyle Ostendorp. He was a key factor in the game, did his job as a specialist very well.

Kicking Game

Lucas Havrisik was 2 for 4 on field goals. I’m not concerned here. It happens, kickers have a lonely job. I have 100 percent confidence Lucas will bounce back. He did produce touchbacks on his kick-offs, which is a major plus.

Needs a Review, Training, and a Plan 

  1. BYU Running Back Tyler Allgeier hurt the Cats and so did QB Jaren Hall with their legs. Most of their best runs were on the edge. Arizona needs to do a better job in establishing and owning the edge.
  2. The Offensive Line gave up four sacks which is concerning.

The offensive line continues to be my number one concern as the Wildcats head into week two against San Diego State out of the Mountain West Conference. The Cats gave up four sacks against BYU last Saturday night, three out of the four sacks came in the second half when Arizona was mounting a comeback.

Without question, the sacks stopped the momentum and put Arizona out of field goal range a couple of times, ultimately forcing punts. It appeared one sack was purely on the offensive line while the other three were on BYU blitz packages all on third down.

However, blitz or not, there needs to be a better game plan against blitzes. The eyes and intel up in the box need to be able to identify when the opposing Defensive Coordinator is calling for a blitz and send that intel to the field.

In this case, BYU presented a pattern, sent three of the four blitzes on 3rd down, which there were simply too many numbers coming at the O-Line during the blitzes. Arizona should bolster up the line more with Tight Ends to assist with blocking at times and the presence of a two Tight End set could cause the DC to call off a blitz after he sees the bolstered up offensive line of scrimmage.

The starting offensive lineman at this point in their careers have experience. In recent years, the O-Line has suffered injuries and some were put in the games particularly during the Sumlin era in a “next man up” role. Now, the starters are seasoned especially with the extra year of Covid eligibility.

Now, under Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line Coach Brennan Carroll, it is a matter of playing under his techniques, schemes, and probably most important, working together as a unit that can control the line of scrimmage as a unit. Let’s take a look at the starters based on Arizona’s Depth Chart.

  • Left Tackle – Jordan Morgan 6-foot-6 312 Sophomore Note: Morgan did not play against BYU due to injury.
  • Left Guard – Donovan Laie 6-foot-5, 323 Junior. Note: Got banged up against BYU, but should be fine for SDSU.
  • Center (a Team Captain) – Josh McCauley, 6-foot-4, 310, Redshirt Senior
  • Right Guard – Josh Donovan, 6-foot-5, 320, Redshirt Junior
  • Right Tackle – Paiton Fears, 6-foot-6, 307, Redshirt Junior

The number two’s listed are as follows:

  • Left Tackle – Donovan Laie
  • Left Guard – Sam Langi, 6-foot-5, 311 Junior
  • Center – JT Hand 6-foot-4, 310, Freshman
  • Right Guard – Josh Baker, 6-foot-3, 305, freshman
  • Right Tackle – Edgar Burrola, 6-foot-7, 312, Redshirt Junior

Donovan Laie as a veteran O-Lineman has the flexibility to play both tackle and guard. Based on the injury to Jordan Morgan, the line-up underwent changes and Josh Baker saw lots of playing time Saturday night.

Against BYU, I saw improvement from this group compared to recent years. However, there is still room for improvement and I hope that this will come as they grow as one unit under Carroll’s new system and style.

Regardless of the reasons, the Cats can’t continue to allow four sacks per game, which is a big reason why Cruz finished with -19 yards rushing.

The Quarterback(s) simply cannot take a beating and Arizona cannot afford a costly injury, similar to other incidences in recent years.

Some of the other Offensive Lineman on the roster that are available are Davis DiVall, Jaxon McBride, Leif Magnuson, David Watson, Woody Jean, Anthony Patt, Lucas Eckardt, and Matthew Stefanski Jr.

Injury Report prior to week 2

  • Jordan Morgan, OL, unknown injury and status, missed week 1.
  • Jamarye Joiner, WR, foot, day by day and possibly ahead of schedule for returning. In a Fall Press conference, Fisch said he expected him to be back by the start of Pac-12 play but could be sooner.
  • Jabar Triplett, LB, knee, recovering from off-season knee surgery.

How to watch the next game against San Diego State University 

  • In-Person – Saturday, September 11th @ 7:00 pm, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
  • On TV – Pac-12 Network, Saturday, September 11th @ 7:00 pm, Yogi Roth and Roxi Bernstein on the call.

As always, Bear Down, Arizona, and Go Cats!

Must Read. Arizona Football: Matchup info and game insight vs SDSU. light