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A Scout's POV: Brennan Carroll is the key to Arizona's '22 success and here's why.

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

This is the best opportunity Arizona's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Brennan Carroll has ever had in his coaching career. He has the dubious task to turn it all around for Arizona, and the offensive line where it will happen in '22.

The Pac-12 preseason outlook and predictions for Arizona are actually positive things to hear if you are a Wildcat fan. But when you look at the reality of it, it is still not where any team would want to be within the preseason hype.

The Wildcats are favored just above the buffaloes of Colorado from the last place spot. If you do your history, the lack of scoring points over the last few years has been due to a weakness up front in the offensive line. The great optimism about this coming year is not with new talented players transferring in or experience that is coming back. What is going to be the offensive success will come from its coach.

Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Brennan Carroll will be the key to what has been believed to be a hopeful strength of the offense. Yes, he has a skilled and experienced new quarterback in Jayden De Laura. But on the O-line, Carroll has some experience coming back. Arizona Desert Swarm writer Josh Pederson makes a great point with plain stats and history.

History from the last few years is not on the side of the O-line.

Five UA linemen that are coming back all combined for 38 starts. With those stats, there were 53 sacks allowed and 123 tackles for loss in two years. In the Pac-12, those statistics are ranked as the most in a 17-game span.

Some size and strength increases are one component of being better, but Carroll does have his hands full. After watching film from the last two years, several things that glared of trouble were not only lack of size and strength, but what caught my eye was what looked like apprehension and uncertainty. Was that the real problem? Can’t say with certainty, but being around the block a few times, I would say it is a strong possibility.

Of the 500 snaps I watched from the last two years, the one assessment I would make over missed assignments, or physically getting beat was that a lot of them looked apprehensive.

That assessment comes from some of the players that were a little slow off the ball, backing off slightly at contact, or just a look of uncertainty on assignment.

There were times when players had opportunities in front of them that were not taken which shows a lack of aggressiveness at times.

It was a real problem up front, but it did get better as the season went on last year. And that positive look I put on Brennan Carroll.

Yes, it was a new offense, brand new coaches, new philosophy. They had to learn a whole new system. If you watched the film under Kevin Sumlin versus the last five games of last year, this was a different and much better offensive line than in 2020. That proves to me that Carroll is doing something right.

Is it the real reason? I guess you can say it is up to interpretation. But I am seeing coaching as the positive outlook of the offensive line progressed in 2021.

The offensive line coach as the offensive coordinator has been one of the most vital pieces to a lot of college and professional teams’ success. In the ’80s and some of the ’90s, it was frowned upon because that job ‘should’ belong to the quarterback coach.

That is not the case anymore with the evolution of the zone blocking concept, changing legalities of what a lineman can do with his hands, and how sophisticated the blocking schemes have gotten with the spread and no-huddle offense.

The bottom line is Arizona will rely on experience this year. But two of those players will not have that experience. Jonah Savaiinaea, a mis-graded 3-star lineman, is a 4-star from St. Louis High school in Hawaii.

3-star JT Hand out of Mission Viejo H.S. in southern California could give Arizona starting freshman guards this year.

Savaiinaea, whom I believe will have a great chance to be an All-Pac12 selection this year as a true freshman.

Savaiinaea’s size, strength, decent athletic ability, and above-average technique will help tremendously. The added size of Hand comes in at 315, whose decent feet but very skilled run blocking technique and progression might land him as a starter.

I can spend hours doing talent evals on this year's o-line, but the facts are the facts, Arizona needs some nastiness to them. No apprehension, need to get big-on-big and move some people. It's not rocket science.

Overall, how the offense goes is not how De Laura goes. It is how the offensive line goes. And how Carroll goes with the new size and experience can change the offensive woes that have plagued the Wildcats since Sumlin arrived in Tucson.

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