Linebacker Marquis Flowers (2) was one of the few bright spots on Arizona’s defense in 2012. (Chris Coduto/Icon SMI)
By Zac Ellis
Throughout the offseason, SI.com will spotlight several teams, players and coaches with something to prove heading into the 2013 season. To check out every edition of this series, click here.
Arizona fans got exactly what they had hoped for out of the Wildcats’ offense in coach Rich Rodriguez’s debut season. RichRod’s up-tempo attack averaged a school-record 526.2 yards and 38.2 points per game in 2012, seventh and 15th in the FBS, respectively. Arizona finished in the top three in the Pac-12 in nearly every significant offensive statistical category, and All-America running back Ka’Deem Carey paced the nation with 1,929 rushing yards.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats’ offense wasn’t the only record-setting unit in town. The Arizona defense — led by former West Virginia coordinator Jeff Casteel — surrendered the most total yards in the country en route to finishing as the most porous group in program history. The ‘Cats allowed 499 yards and 38.2 points per game, and a few of their efforts were nothing short of disastrous: a 66-10 loss at UCLA, a 54-48 overtime loss at Stanford and a 49-0 loss at Oregon. In all, six different opponents put up more than 600 yards of offense against Arizona, yet Rodriguez somehow managed to guide his Wildcats to an 8-4 record in spite of his defense.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Arizona failed to land a player on the All-Pac-12 first- or second-team defensive squads. This fall, it’s clear there’s nowhere to go for Arizona’s D but up.