Big 12 Snapshot: Arizona Wildcats

Good morning. I’m introducing a new series intended to take a look at each team in the new Big 12. I’m not sure how many I’ll get done each week, but the only way for me to really know about these teams is to actually do the research so I can be relatively informed when the season hits. So I spent time doing the research this weekend. There are links to everything below so if there isn’t a link, then I didn’t write it, but I always link back to the originator of the content. I wanted to take a quick look at the team: get a feel for the best players; look into their portal class consisted and how they ranked overall; a look at the 2024 recruiting class; and ending on the graphic from Sharp College Football.

Snapshot: QB Noah Fifita and WR Tetairoa McMillan are fantastic starts to the Arizona offense. Of course, Arizona is having to replace head coach Jedd Fisch, who jetted for the Washington job. Holes on defense and offensive line are an issue. New HC Brent Brennan has good talent returning. Fifita passed for 2,869 yards, 25 touchdowns and just 6 picks last year and McMillan had 90 catches for 1,402 yards and 10 touchdowns. Both are highly talented and will be a problem to stop. Linebacker Jacob Manu is the best returning defensive player with 105 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 1 interception in 2023. Cornerback Tacario Davis is also incredibly talented, 14 pass break-ups last year alone. Regarding Brennan, he was the head coach at San Jose State where they had the 40th best offense in the nation according to T-Rank and the 74th best defense, with a very good rushing offense, 21st in the nation. He’s a good coach and did quite well at SJSU.

Do the Wildcats play Texas Tech? Yes, October 5th, the 6th game of the season for Texas Tech.

Returning Starters: Offensive returning starters – 6 (70% of offensive production); Defensive returning starters – 6 (70% of defensive production).

Transfer Portal Arrivals: 16 total. note the offensive line and defensive line, that’s the biggest area of need and that’s pretty obvious from the portal results. Four offensive linemen and four defensive lineman. Also note the number of players from San Jose State, which was Brennan’s last stop.
QB Anthony Garcia (from San Jose State)
RB Quali Conley (from San Jose State)
WR Reymello Murphy (from Old Dominion)
TE Sam Olson (from San Jose State)
OL Alexander Doost (from Northwestern)
OL Michael Wooten (from Oregon)
OL Jonah Rodriguez (from San Diego State)
OL Ryan Stewart (from San Jose State)
DL Chubba Maae (from UC Davis)
DL Jarra Anderson (from Memphis)
DL Chase Kennedy (from Utah)
DL Kevon Darton (from Syracuse)
DL Tre Smith (from San Jose State)
DB Jack Luttrell (from Tennessee)
DB Marquis Groves-Killebrew (from Louisville)
LS Justin Holloway (from Ohio)

On3 Transfer Index Score: -8 (Big 12 high is 68 with Colorado and low is -30 with Houston)

2024 Recruiting: With the coaching change of coach Jedd Fisch to Brent Brennan there were a lot of late changes and transfer portal movement so the highest-rated player in the class – four-star quarterback Demond Williams – is no longer going to be playing for the Wildcats. But Arizona kept standout wide receivers Dylan Tapley, Brandon Phelps and others, and high three-star running back Jordan Washington has a ton of talent.

Grade: C-

Sharp College Football Beta Rank Deep Dive: This was an offense that was highly explosive and efficient and particularly adept at the passing game, which isn’t a surprise considering what’s returning. This is a top 5 offense in the nation and if they can figure out the offensive line situation, it could be the same as last year. I think that Brennen’s forte is defense and they were also very good last year. Not elite at anything, but very good, particularly good against the run.

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