The Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2021 season Saturday, Aug. 4 in the Las Vegas Classic versus Brigham Young University. Here are our staff predictions for Jedd Fisch's anticipated debut.
Asher Bookspan: BYU 24, Arizona 17
Given the hype head coach Jedd Fisch has brought to the team it feels good to buy into it. Fisch has had a strong offseason since being hired but also is unproven as a head coach.
The biggest question about the team for me is what to expect from the offense, given that Gunner Cruz and Will Plummer both see playing time.
After Zach Wilson’s departure to the NFL, BYU’s offense could struggle with Jaren Hall starting at quarterback for them but otherwise has a solid group of skill players. Arizona’s defense has the potential to wreak havoc if defensive coordinator Don Brown can dial up effective blitzes and get into the backfield.
I think that Arizona will be competitive in the first game of the season, but they could take some time for the offense to figure themselves out. If the defense can play well Arizona could escape with a win even with shaky offensive play.
Jordan Pollock: BYU 21, Arizona 24
The opener for both BYU and the University of Arizona will be a competition of teams and style of play. BYU will look for big plays in the passing game and lean on their defense to control the time of possession.
Arizona, however, will look different than they have in the last to spread heavy-driven coaches. Arizona is gonna run the ball to open up the passing game.
I believe running backs Wiley and Anderson will get close to 15 carries a piece and will both be used in the passing game. If UA wins this game, it’ll be in the trenches on both sides of the ball, creating a run game and putting pressure on BYU’s quarterback.
Ryan Wohl: BYU 31, Arizona 24
This will be a tough test for a new coaching staff to go ‘on the road’ and win the team’s first game in 12 attempts. BYU has an experienced coach and isn’t returning their former star quarterback with Zach Wilson but still has the pedigree of winning history.
Both teams are starting young quarterbacks that each have little to no experience. I believe that the line being 12.5 points favoring the Cougars is a little too high considering the circumstances. My prediction is that an Arizona tight end will score a touchdown and will be featured more on offense.
Patrick Carr: BYU 34, Arizona 27
BYU has become a 12.5 point favorite now and I believe Arizona will cover that, but I don’t see them having enough just yet to squeak out a win against a pretty highly touted mid-major program in BYU. BYU should be the template for what Jedd Fisch and the team want to get to before they can start competing for the Pac-12.
This BYU team is experienced and has a combination of size and physicality in the trenches. The QB situation will be the storyline for both teams I believe with the Wildcats trying out a double quarterback experiment and the Cougars have major inexperience under center.
It will be extremely important for Fisch and Don Brown to make this a competitive exciting football game on a massive stage Saturday night, showing the rest of the country what is trying to be built in Tucson.
Sean Fagan: BYU 21, Arizona 24
For this game, I am going to hop on the hype train and say that Arizona will upset BYU. I believe the Wildcats will start the scoring early, but BYU will answer. The action will all come in the first half and the second half is where things will slow down. With their two-quarterback system taking effect in this game, Arizona will be experimenting with their offense for most of the game.
Normally I would say this would leave the door open for BYU to run away with an easy victory. However, I just don’t think their new quarterback, Jaren Hall, will be able to deliver a victory after sitting on the bench for years behind former BYU quarterback and New York Jets starter Zach Wilson.
Jake Faigus: BYU 28, Arizona 21
Arizona comes into its opening game this season with a renewed sense of optimism. It’s the start of the Jedd Fisch era. BYU is the first team this new Wildcat team faces, and it will be a tough out for them. BYU loses the most production of any team coming into this season, all while coming off an 11 win season as well.
BYU is a big test for Arizona right off the bat. They are probably going to be the most physical team that the Wildcats play all season. The Wildcats have talked all week about matching that physicality on both offense and defense. I think Arizona covers the 12.5 point spread but loses overall.
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