By the numbers: Arizona football wraps up first season under Jedd Fisch
Arizona football’s first season under head coach Jedd Fisch ended Saturday with a 38-15 defeat in the Territorial Cup game against Arizona State.
The Wildcats enter the offseason at 1-11, the worst winning percentage in program history excluding their five-game, COVID-19-shortened 2020 season.
Fisch saw some positives in a difficult year in which the Wildcats used three different quarterbacks due to injuries. Now, he’s looking at the future.
“I feel like there’s a lot of positives and a lot of negatives,” Fisch told reporters Sunday. “We have to be the best recruiting staff in the country that we possibly can be. We have to be absolutely relentless when it comes to recruiting talent to Tucson.”
Fisch pointed out some areas the program needs to improve on: recruiting, developmental coaching, discipline and creating turnovers.
A look at the numbers that tell the story of Arizona’s season:
The Wildcats’ high moment of the season was ending their 20-game losing streak that spanned back to 2019.
Arizona’s defense stepped up against an undermanned California offense to help propel the Wildcats to a 10-3 victory.
Cal gained just 122 total yards, and the Wildcats scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Fans rushed the field as Arizona tasted victory for the first time in 25 months.
The Arizona offense scored the fewest points in the Pac-12 and seventh-fewest in the country this season at 17.2 per game.
It failed to reach 20 points in each of the first seven games of the year and only did so twice.
Will Plummer, Gunner Cruz and Jordan McCloud all spent time at quarterback due to injuries, none of whom had a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Arizona had the lowest passer rating as a team in the conference and the most interceptions with 18.
8.4 fewer points
The Wildcats’ defense under coordinator Don Brown improved across the board.
It allowed 31.4 points per game, a dramatic step up from the 39.8 it surrendered each week in 2020.
Against the run, Arizona gave up nearly 90 fewer yards per contest, going from 270.6 to 182.4.
“We certainly in total defense improved tremendously,” Fisch said. “Our pass defense was second in the Pac-12 and fourth in the country, that’s a positive.”
Through the air, opponents gained 2,281 yards on Arizona. Only Washington allowed fewer in the conference.
Arizona will need to find a replacement for Brown, though, as he will take over as head coach of Massachusetts.
4 tight losses
Despite the offensive deficiencies, the Wildcats were not an easy out for some of the better teams on their schedule.
Four of its 11 losses were by one score, five by single digits.
Arizona fell to now-No.12 BYU 24-16 in Week 1 after failing on an onside kick attempt late.
The Wildcats showed fight against USC on Oct. 30, losing by seven after trailing 35-14 at halftime.
“Our team never stopped competing all season long,” Fisch said in his postgame press conference Saturday.
Arizona committed 105 penalties this season, the fifth-most in the country. That is nearly nine per game.
Mississippi and Arizona State were the only Power 5 programs with more.
Penalties haunted Arizona in the Territorial Cup game as the Wildcats committed 12 for 96 yards.
The one that stood out was a false start call in the first quarter while Arizona had the ball on the ASU 1-yard line. The Wildcats ended that drive with a field goal.