Arizona Wildcats look to define success with wins in 2023

Sep 2, 2023, 6:57 AM

Cornerback Adama Fall #19 of the Arizona Wildcats holds up the Territorial Cup after defeating the ...

Cornerback Adama Fall #19 of the Arizona Wildcats holds up the Territorial Cup after defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-35 in a game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Success in college football is typically defined by wins and losses. But sometimes, it isn’t.

For third-year University of Arizona head football coach Jedd Fisch, that may have to be enough for him and the Wildcat faithful.

So how will Arizona define success in 2023? Will it be found on the schedule? Will it be found in personal awards and/or growth? Or will it finally be about the win and loss columns?

Will the Arizona Wildcats keep trend up and earn bowl berth in 2023?

Following Kevin Sumlin’s disastrous tenure with the Wildcats, which ended with an 0-5 mark in 2020, the Wildcats have seen steady progress under Fisch. After posting one win in Fisch’s first year on the job, the Wildcats saw a four-game jump in 2022.

That said, it could be tough sledding for Arizona this season just based on the competition that awaits on the other side.

Tough road matchups include preseason No. 6 USC and SEC upstart Mississippi State, while home contests against preseason No. 10 Washington, No. 14 Utah, No. 18 Oregon State will be no walk in the park for Arizona.

That’s not to say there aren’t wins to be had on the schedule, and Arizona did go 5-7 in 2022 despite a similarly tough slate. Those matchups include home games against NAU and UTEP and a road tilt against an Arizona State team amid a rebuild under new head coach Kenny Dillingham.

Senior wide receiver Jacob Cowing will look to have a big game against the Miners, as he is a transfer from UTEP. The Maricopa native was named to the Fred Biletnikoff Award preseason watchlist this season after reeling in 85 catches for 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also on the list for the Paul Hornung and Maxwell awards.

The real wild card of the Pac-12 schedule is Deion Sanders — Coach Prime — and the Colorado Buffaloes at Boulder on Nov. 11.

Individual talent is there

A number of Wildcats are on watch lists for awards for the upcoming season, including the previously mentioned Cowing.

Junior linebacker Justin Flowe has been mentioned for the Lott and Butkus awards, while junior quarterback Jayden de Laura is being watched for the Manning, Maxwell and Polynesian Player of the Year awards.

Fisch spoke highly of Flowe.

“He’s probably one of the most explosive players that we’ve had here. He’s in an elite category in regards to his ability to run and hit,” Fisch said Tuesday. “What Justin’s learning is the system … he’s had three different systems in three years.”

Senior offensive lineman Jordan Morgan represents the only Wildcat on the Rotary Lombardi Award and Wuerffel Trophy watchlists, while he and sophomore offensive lineman Jonah Savaiinaea got Outland watchlist nods.

The sophomore is also nominated for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award along with senior defensive lineman Sio Nofoagatoto’a, junior defensive lineman Tiaoalii Savea, sophomore linebacker Jacob Manu and sophomore wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan.

Junior kicker Tyler Loop is on the shortlist for the Lou Groza Award while senior punter Kyle Ostendorp is up for the Ray Guy Award. Senior running back Michael Wiley is on the list for the Doak Walker and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose awards.

The Arizona football team opens the season at 7 p.m. against Northern Arizona on Pac-12 Networks.

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Arizona Wildcats look to define success with wins in 2023