Photo by San Diego Tribune
Arizona's motto all offseason was, 'It's Personal.' Well, they definitely did take it personal, but what beat San Diego State was their personnel. Superior recruiting has changed this football program as they dominated San Diego State for four quarters.
Tim Daniel, NFL Game Scout, Football Writer
San Diego, CA The Cactus Junky Report
As I stood and watched Jacob Cowing run by me down the sidelines for Arizona's first touchdown to take a 10-0 lead against San Diego State, I looked down the same sideline to see one Wildcat take a big gasp for air. Better yet, it looked more like a colossal sigh of relief.
For head coach Jedd Fisch, he would be that Wildcat that breathed a lot easier for the next three quarters as Arizona routed San Diego State, 38-20, opening week in the Aztecs’ brand-new Snapdragon Stadium.
After an awful 2021 rookie season for the head coach, it was apparent that the transfer portal and Fisch’s masterful recruiting paid off Saturday.
From the start, there was never any doubt that Arizona did not have control of this game. It's surprised many as well as me.
The one thing I took from this game is that they were very well prepared. They were versed on their packages and what they wanted to do on the field. absolutely a great win for Arizona, the staff, the players and the school.
Just like I had been barking all offseason, jet fish and this recruiting class that includes the transfer portal is only going to get bigger and better.
THE FOOTBALL TAKE
Defensively, coordinator Johnny Nansen was dialed in for this game. The defensive game plan was outstanding. First thing that I noticed from the field was the level of communication on the defensive side. From a scheme standpoint, San Diego State was pretty much what they were last year with exception of personnel. I can hear barking all game from the defense And it sounded like they knew what was coming at them based off of the formation.
These kids were very well prepared for this football game.
Arizona’s ability to call blitzes or stunts were based on certain formation packages that San Diego State showed them last year. These blitz packages were outstanding for Arizona. Upfront the Aztecs had problems switching off and picking up with these stunts.
The one thing that also glared out to me aside from the defensive package that was put on the field, was the personnel. This is a completely different team than last year.
The transfer portal and marvelous recruiting by Jedd Fisch and this defensive staff caught my attention. Overall, what they were able to do was to create and elevate a package that could run with anybody and of course obviously, soundly beat a San Diego State team. In essence, the defense gave up ten points and that was because of turnovers and there was never any doubt on that field who was better.
The whole defense caught my eye, but there were two that were elevated to a higher level in front of me. Christian Young was very deliberate on Saturday. His movement on run support was NFL/SEC type of stuff. He was very aggressive on run support; covered great ground to the boundary as well as deep.
San Diego State had trouble with Hunter Echols the transfer from USC. This is a guy from another level of talent then what Arizona had last year. The Aztecs struggled with what looked like to me every once in a while disguising Echols. And other times he just basically walked up to the edge and came, and they couldn't block him at times.
The one thing I noticed that was different from last year, is the speed and the urgency of the blitz. The transfer portal has been great, and they were prepared.
Offensively, Fisch and Brennan Carroll did a great job of creating a great game plan against San Diego State. But where I'm going to give them credit for the success was their ability to recruit portal and freshmen for these positions.
Their personnel packages were great and that showed with their NFL-type, Jacob Cowing.
Two reasons for success Saturday. First, Cowing’s ability to run great routes with his speed. His plant steps and great hips helped him run good routes, especially crossing the field. Secondly, the offensive staff did a great job putting him in mismatches and moving guys around to slot positions and giving different looks to that personnel.
Carroll took advantage of the defense not giving much respect to Tetairoa McMillan.
McMillan did look very unsure, apprehensive and slow at first, but he's a true freshman and that's understandable for me to start.
In the red zone, the Aztecs were not going to give up corners to McMillan. They played him off, but the play before his touchdown, it looked as if they walked up in what looked like to me maybe a soft press coverage into a man coverage..
I immediately think that's when you throw to the back corner because they could not cover him on that route. But the next play, playing him off deep is going to put McMillan in a window to run that slant to the seam or to the post. The post it was which Jayden De Laura threw him that touchdown.
It is glaringly obvious that the talent that Arizona has this year has doubled. And over the next two to three years, I see that talent quadrupling to possibly contending to be Pac-12 or Big 12 champions.
Overall, Cowan is an NFL talent And Hunter Echols echoes that sentiment from the defensive edge.
Beforehand, I did feel that Arizona could win this game. But I did admit I did not think they would. I thought it might be a 3 point or seven-point game. I was proven wrong.
San Diego State is not a very good team like they were last year. They're missing some key spots and I think will struggle this year and maybe be a .500 or more team.
After the game, I drove up to Orange County, California to watch the Mississippi State game on a very large monitor. Mississippi State would beat San Diego State by 3 touchdowns. Then I thought about it, if it wasn't for Arizona's mistakes and turnovers, they beat San Diego State by 4 touchdowns.
I think this Mississippi State matchup is a good matchup for Arizona. This is going to be one of the best teams they will face all year besides USC. It will be a very good gauge of what Arizona will be from a talent standpoint. I think we all know the coaching is there for Arizona and there's no mistaking that. It's continuing to recruit continuing to get your existing players to perform at a higher level each week. Fisch has those players and that's why I like Arizona.
The Wildcats and the Bulldogs will be interesting game to watch. State has better players at certain spots against Arizona than San Diego State had. That might be a problem.
Arizona must play error-free football against this SEC team.
If they make mistakes as they did against San Diego State, it will not be a good night for them.
Nanson and Carroll need to come up with the best game plans of their career to win this game, and they can. They need to find holes, find mismatches, and the offensive line, which is going to have to get better than what we saw against San Diego State, is going to be tested.
Can Arizona beat MSU? Yes. The Mississippi State game is on the offensive line, to me. If they play as they did against SDSU, they will struggle against a much better defensive front than what they saw in San Diego. This game will be won or lost by the offensive line in my opinion.
If they have gotten better this week at practice, yes, I believe Arizona wins by 3. If they don't take a step up this week Mississippi State will beat them by a lot.
But what do I know, I called Saturday wrong.