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2021 Arizona college football preview: The Jedd Fisch era begins in Tucson

The first-year head coach looks to rebuild the program after Kevin Sumlin’s disastrous tenure.

Arizona Spring Game
Head coach Jedd Fisch of the Arizona Wildcats reacts on the sidelines during the Arizona Spring game at Arizona Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats did not a win a single game during the 2020 football season, going 0-5 in a compressed schedule resulting in Kevin Sumlin’s firing. Former UCLA offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jedd Fisch steps in to lead the program, hoping to re-capture some of its recent success.

This is a complete teardown and rebuild situation, and expectations are rightly limited for this season. It’s not Year 1, it’s Year -1 in Tucson.

2020 Season Review

  • 0-5, 0-5, 6th in Pac-12 South
  • There’s yet another coaching change in Tucson, but this time the Wildcats are going with someone who has never been a head coach previously. Fisch didn’t play college football, but he was a successful offensive coordinator at UCLA and will hope to translate that experience to Arizona.

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 11th in Pac-12
ESPN Returning Production: 76% overall (46): 75% offense (54), 77% defense (40)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 13th in Pac-12
Returning starters: 6/11 offense, 6/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Will Plummer (Fr.)

Plummer struggled in his limited 2020 play, throwing zero touchdowns and three interceptions while completing just 53.8 percent of his throws. He’ll need to improve substantially for Arizona to have a competitive team this season.

Offense (non-QB): WR Stanley Berryhill III (Jr.)

Berryhill was the team’s top receiver last season and will once again be expected to elevate the offense. He’ll need to form a connection with Plummer to keep things clicking offensively. The junior had a strong start to last season, but faded down the stretch.

Defense: LB Anthony Pandy (Sr.)

Pandy led the team in tackles and interceptions last season, so he figures to be a big part of Arizona’s defense again. The senior will be expected to build up the next generation of Wildcats along with providing a stellar presence in the middle of the field.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 98th overall: 76th offense, 111th defense, 43rd special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 92nd overall: 76th offense, 106th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +50000
To win Pac-12: +8000
Win total: 2.5 (Over -125, Under +105)

2020 Against The Spread: 1-4
2020 Point Total: Over 2-3

2021 Arizona Schedule

2021 Arizona Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 BYU (Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas) 10:30 pm/ESPN AZ +11
Saturday, Sep. 11 San Diego State 10:00 pm/Pac12N N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 Northern Arizona 10:00 pm/Pac12AZ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 at Oregon TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 UCLA TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 at Colorado TBA N/A
Friday, Oct. 22 Washington 10:30 pm/ESPN2 N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 at USC TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 California TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 Utah TBA N/A
Friday, Nov. 19 at Washington State 9:00 pm/Pac12N N/A
Saturday, Nov. 27 at Arizona State TBA N/A