Despite falling behind late, Arizona Football (2-1) rallied against FCS Powerhouse, North Dakota State (2-1) to earn the big, 31-28 win.
We are now into week four of the Arizona Football season, and despite a tough loss to Mississippi State last weekend, the Wildcats rebounded in a big way!
Returning to action to take on a talented FSC opponent in North Dakota State, the Bison were riding high entering this one, especially as they had won six-straight games against FBS opponents.
Outgaining the Wildcats 407 yards to just 394 yards, including 283 rushing yards to just 165, luckily Arizona still came out ahead, pacing themselves to a 31-28 win, despite North Dakota State dominating a few aspects of this game.
So with Arizona Football now improving to 2-1 on the season, we look at the major takeaways following their win over North Dakota State.
Arizona’s Defensive Front/Rush Defense Needs A LOT of work!
The Wildcats were torched on defense. Giving up 407 total yards, including 283 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground, North Dakota State did whatever it wanted on offense. And if it wasn’t for the fumble earlier in the game, the Cats might have lost this one.
Granted a lot of Arizona’s issues are depth and personnel, but they have to scheme better moving forward or work on tackling drills a lot. Arizona was bullied in a big way last night, and they need to improve with their rushing defense or they are going to have to win a few shootouts.
Scratch the Wildcat Formation
Once again, Arizona tried running the Wildcat formation. With Jamarye Joiner taking the snap from center, the Wildcats’ wide receiver tried running the ball up the middle. And for the second straight week, it did not work.
Whether the formation is too predictable, or the Cats are just not getting a good enough push up front, either way, it is not working and it needs to be scrapped. I would rather see the ball in Joiner’s hands in other ways rather than see him run one-yard dive plays.
Jayden de Laura’s Legs Work After All!
All last week, we saw a timid and scared Jayden de Laura become one-dimensional as Mississippi State collapsed the pocket and pressured Jayden de Laura.
As a result, head coach Jedd Fisch advised and coached his quarterback to take what the defense gives and run the ball if the situation calls for it!
On Saturday, de Laura was great! The Wildcats sophomore threw for 229 yards and a touchdown while also running the ball 10 times for 50 yards to go along with a touchdown.
With his mobility, he gives the Cats’ offense a different dimension and makes them tougher to defend. Let’s just hope he keeps this up!
The Wildcats are Taking Great Strides!
This time last year, Arizona was 0-3 and was coming off of a loss to FCS in-state rival, Northern Arizona. Through three games in 2022, the Wildcats are 2-1 and can possibly win its next two games.
Now, granted this team is still a work in progress and bigger things are on the horizon for the Cats; however, Arizona has made tremendous strides and this team has become more competitive in just one year.