New football coaches breathe life into program

Yates and Williams bring defense and recruiting power

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Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona football defensive coordinator Marcel Yates focuses in on a play in spring practice at Arizona Stadium on Feb. 12. Yates joined the 'Cats after leaving the same position at Boise State.

The Arizona defense was bad last season, to put it lightly. The Wildcats ranked near or at the bottom of not only the Pac-12 Conference, but the country, in almost every major statistical category. A change needed to be made and it needed to happen in a hurry. In comes defensive coordinator Marcel Yates from Boise State.

Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates

Photo: Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics

Arizona assistant coach Donte Williams watches a play in spring practice at Arizona Stadium on Feb. 12. Williams is considered one of the best recruiters on the West Coast.

Yates was at the head of a productive attacking defense that saw the Broncos rank in the top 10 in turnovers forced the past two seasons. The benefit to hiring Yates is that he is familiar with having under-sized personnel, so dealing with that nuance should be easy. He will have his work cut out for him, but it seems that he is pleased with the teams’ progress.

“The guys have picked it up slowly but are very energetic and excited about the style we are going to play,” Yates said.

He doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed into having to select a particular formation of defense. Instead, Yates says they will play multiple fronts and present different looks to confuse offenses. A key piece to that will be the defensive backs, especially with the spread offenses in the Pac-12. Enter cornerbacks coach Donte Williams.

Cornerbacks coach Donte Williams

Williams took a position with the Wildcats after a three-year stint at the same position with San Jose State. You may ask yourself: Why a coach from San Jose State? Well, that would be because he helped the Spartans to the No. 1 overall total defense ranking in the FBS in 2014 and second overall in 2015, according to Arizona Athletics.

Together, Yates and Williams are also helping the Wildcats do damage on the recruiting trail, a huge factor in their addition to the program. As of now, the Wildcats hold the second spot in Pac-12 and rank 19th in the country on the recruiting trail.

These two coaches are vital to the success of the Wildcats this season. If Arizona can find ways to improve, its record could improve from a year ago.


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