The price for last season’s lack of depth on defense was that the Arizona coaches couldn’t do anything with the scheme. The Cats had their hands full, and then some, with their base defense, merely trying to hang on before getting run over.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez’s second year is different.
The Wildcats are still young, but they have more ready-to-go players and a little more speed.
Now, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel can start using the back half of the playbook. His 3-3-5 system thrives on speed and flexibility, and he started to show that off in the season-opening 35-0 victory over NAU.
That was the debut of the defense’s SWAT team — a specialized unit brought in to defend in passing situations.
Arizona allowed the Lumberjacks to convert just 4 of 19 third-down chances, but the SWAT team wasn’t on the field for all those, so you have to break it down with more of a keen eye.