Arizona Football Today: BYU | News

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Arizona’s Jedd Fisch era will begin at the Death Star.

A longtime NFL and college assistant, Fisch will take the sidelines as head coach for the first time Saturday, when the Wildcats face BYU at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

“There’s obviously the anxiety and the butterflies, and if you don’t have that, I don’t know if you’re a real contender,” Fisch said this week. “But there is always that juice there and you want to put your best foot forward. I’m not sure I’m getting much sleep this week, but I’m sure excited to know where this thing can go.

Fisch was hired to give the program a new direction.

The Wildcats will arrive at the home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders on a school-record 12-game losing streak that cost former coach Kevin Sumlin his job.

Arizona hired Fisch to lead a turnaround, a move that drew mixed reviews. The 41-year-old undoubtedly has the coaching chops after a career that includes stops at multiple college programs and NFL teams, the last being under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots in 2020.






The all-time series between Arizona and BYU is now tied at 12-12-1


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Some Arizona fans didn’t like the idea of ​​hiring a first-time head coach, but Fisch quickly won hearts in the desert by hiring top-notch assistants and embracing former players. arizona.

Now is the time to bring it to the field. The first step will not be easy.

BYU was arguably the top five-team team in college football last season, finishing 11-1 and No. 11 in the AP Top 25, its highest final ranking since 1996.

The Cougars took a big hit when quarterback Zach Wilson opted to leave school early for the NFL and has some holes to fill, but still plays physical, disciplined football no matter who lines up.

“We know we have a lot on our plate with this team and we’re excited about this opportunity,” Fisch said. “We know they’re a good defensive team, they’re a good offensive team and they certainly know how not to fight on special teams. These are the three phases working together. That’s how you make it 11-1.

THE HALL TOUR

BYU had a three-way contest to replace Wilson between Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney and Jacob Conover.

Hall had limited action in seven games last season, throwing for 420 yards and rushing for 147 more. The second has a big arm and an ability to extend plays, which fits perfectly into BYU’s offensive scheme.

“Jaren is not stupid, he knows he has to play well, there are good players behind him,” Cougars offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said last week after Hall was named the starter. “I expect him to, though. I am convinced that he will play very well. »

QB ARIZONA

BYU wasn’t the only team to have a long competition to replace a starting quarterback.

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Grant Gunnell, who took the majority of the snaps during the pandemic-altered 2020 season, opted to enter the transfer portal and is now in Memphis.

The competition boiled down to two players: Washington State transfer Gunner Cruz and rookie Will Plummer.

There was no clear winner, so the Wildcats plan to use both — for now.

“At the moment we plan to play both, we’re not sure how many yet, we’ll see how it looks, we’ll see how the game plays out,” Fisch said. “There is definitely an opportunity for a small platoon system. Right now they’ve embraced it, they’re working hard at it, they’re working hard to improve.

Plummer threw for 388 yards in three games for Arizona last season and can extend play with his legs. Cruz made an appearance last season against USC and is a good decision maker.


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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