Arizona California Football

It's unfair - and inaccurate - to describe Arizona's 'D' as a 'one-man defense.'

Do the Arizona Wildcats have a “one-man defense”? An opposing coach in the Pac-12 apparently thinks so.

In its annual feature anonymously quoting coaches about their conference foes, an opposing coach trashed the UA defense:

"Offense will not be a problem there. They’re going to make a lot of us in this league look bad. But measure that against their one-man defense, and you see why (Khalil) Tate can only do so much."

The one man presumably is sophomore “Stud” Kylan Wilborn, who is praised earlier in the piece:

"I thought Kylan Wilborn was one of the best defensive players in our league last year. He kind of came out of nowhere. Those are the best kind of recruits. You see the potential, and then it develops into something completely out of the ordinary.

“He’s not the biggest guy. But he’s got such a quick first step, he’s hard to block. They better get some help for him, because they couldn’t tackle anyone last year. It was YAC (yards after catch/contact) for days last year against them."

It’s unclear whether one coach or multiple coaches is making these comments. Regardless, they show little — if any — respect for the rest of Arizona’s defense.

While Wilborn had an excellent season — including a team-best 7.5 sacks and a league-best four forced fumbles — it was his classmate, linebacker Colin Schooler, who earned Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.

Another freshman linebacker, Tony Fields II, led the team with 104 tackles and ranked second behind Wilborn with five sacks. Schooler and Fields made several Freshman All-America teams.

Cornerbacks Lorenzo Burns and Jace Whittaker combined for eight interceptions and 20 pass breakups. Whittaker, in particular, is a favorite in the analytics community.

We could go on and on here. The point is, even though Arizona’s defense struggled at times last year, it’s unfair — and inaccurate — to label the unit a one-man band.


Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering sports professionally since the early '90s. He started at the Star in 2015 after spending 15 years at The Orange County Register. Michael is a graduate of Northwestern University.