By the numbers: Arizona’s lopsided first half of the season
The Arizona Wildcats were on the precipice of becoming ranked a week ago.
They were 4-1 and had won four straight games. All they had to do was beat Washington in Tucson.
That proved to be too difficult of a task as, after a strong defensive first half from Arizona, the Huskies ran wild after halftime and won 51-27.
At 2-1 in the conference, UA is still tied for first place in the Pac-12 South halfway through the season. But, the Wildcats will be harshly tested down the stretch with their final three games against currently ranked opponents (two on the road) and an away game at USC.
Here is a by the numbers look at Arizona’s first half:
There are 10 teams in the FBS who rack up over 500 yards per game. Arizona is one of them. It sits in ninth place at 509.3.
Arizona has been a machine at moving the ball most of this season. It averages 5.4 yards per rush as a team and quarterback Khalil Tate is completing 64.8% of his throws. Plus, the Wildcats convert on 49.5% of third downs, most in the conference, and are 6-for-6 on fourth down.
Arizona has a lopsided team with one of the better offenses in the FBS and one of the worst defenses. Through six games, UA has allowed 1,924 yards through the air, 320.7 per game. It allowed over 300 yards passing in four of six games, and UCLA was its only opponent that failed to reach 200.
The Wildcats defense allows 33 points per game. In its third and fourth games this year, it looked like there was some improvement as UA only allowed 14 and 17 points to Texas Tech and UCLA. But it struggled once again to stop drives against Colorado and then UW bulldozed over it last week with 38 second-half points.
Eight different receivers have double-digit catches and two have over 20. Tate and freshman quarterback Grant Gunnell (started against UCLA) have done a great job spreading the ball around so that defenses cannot hone in on one target.
Speaking of sharing the ball, six Wildcats have received 20 or more rushing attempts this year. UA is second in the Pac-12 in rushing yards with 1,256.
J.J. Taylor is the primary back but he missed some time with an ankle injury. In his place, Gary Brightwell, Darius Smith and Nathan Tilford each had solid performances. The Wildcats’ impressive depth at halfback is also boosted by their mobile quarterback, Tate, who averages 5.3 yards per carry.
Tate threw for a career-high 404 yards at Colorado to lead the Wildcats to that 4-1 start. It was the first time he had thrown for over 400 yards and he did so in the same stadium where he broke the record for most rushing yards by an FBS quarterback with 327 in 2017.
Arizona has two home games left on the slate. All four road games are against teams that are .500 or better. Its final two away contests will be at Oregon in Week 11 and at Arizona State to end the season, both ranked teams that will be pulling for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.