Arizona at Washington State
TIME: 7 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Arizona
RADIO: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
Preview and predictions by Michael Lev
All about Arizona
All about Washington State
Head to head
HEAD TO HEAD
77 Jordan Morgan vs. 10 Ron Stone Jr.
Morgan possesses the athletic gifts to become an elite left tackle, but it hasn’t quite come together yet. Morgan has the lowest pass-blocking grade among regular UA linemen, per Pro Football Focus. He also has allowed the most QB pressures. Better health could lead to better things in 2022.
The son of former NFL O-lineman Ron Stone is the Cougars’ most disruptive defender. He leads the team in defensive stops (33, per PFF), QB pressures (32), TFLs (10.5) and sacks (five). QB Will Plummer should be healthier this week. Arizona needs to keep him that way.
20 Treydan Stukes vs. 8 Calvin Jackson Jr.
The former walk-on is slated to make his third straight start. He’ll be tested by Washington State’s veteran WR corps but has stood up to every challenge so far (team-low 47.1% completion rate against). “He continues to compete, down in and down out,” Arizona DC Don Brown said.
Jackson and teammate Travell Harris form the Pac-12’s most potent 1-2 punch, ranking second and third in the conference in receiving yards. Jackson is the more dangerous of the two after the catch. He leads WSU’s starting wideouts with an average of 5.5 YAC per reception, according to PFF.
When Arizona has the ball …
The UA offense has shown signs of progress lately, topping 20 points in two of the past three games after failing to do so for 10 consecutive contests. In both of those games, Plummer passed for more than 200 yards without throwing an interception — something he’d never done previously. He needs more support from the rushing attack, which has been up and down. Arizona barely cracked 100 yards vs. Utah last week. WSU allowed 306 vs. Oregon.
When Washington State has the ball …
After coming off the bench to start the season, Cougars QB Jayden de Laura has established himself as the Pac-12’s most prolific passer. The second-year freshman leads the league in passing yards (2,247) and touchdowns (19). Although WSU’s sack-adjusted pass rate is a robust 57.8%, the Wildcats must be wary of RB Max Borghi. In a matchup against a similarly pass-heavy offense earlier this season, Arizona allowed USC’s Keaontay Ingram to run wild (career-high 204 yards).
Prediction: Washington State 31, Arizona 27
If the Wildcats’ minds are in the right place — focused on this week’s game vs. next week’s Territorial Cup — there’s no reason they can’t hang with the Cougars. WSU ranks seventh or lower in the Pac-12 in total offense, scoring, rushing, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense. WSU’s overall team speed is a concern, though. The Trojans killed the Cats in space with their four-wide attack, and the Cougars will try to do the same.
Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @michaeljlev