Boston College’s defense will have to worry about stopping the Arizona run game led by Ka’Deem Carey. Meanwhile, Arizona’s defense will have to try to stop the Eagles’ rushing attack, led by Heisman finalist and America’s leading rusher, Andre Williams. How do they propose to do that, you ask? Good question.
The Wildcats run a base 3-3-5 defense, but teams typically stack the box in full knowledge of what Boston College is going to do. It typically has little effect, but it is logical to assume that Arizona will likewise depart from their base defense at times in order to stuff the line.
Without leaving it to wonder any further, how has Arizona done this season in run defense? Average at best. They are 71st overall with 169.75 yards allowed per game, but that number jumps to 186.83 away from Tucson. In those games in road or neutral sites, the Wildcats faced UNLV (157), Washington (244), USC (249), Colorado (137), California (130), and Arizona State (204). Generally speaking, that’s not great, and it’s worth noting that another top running back, Washington’s Bishop Sankey, hit the Wildcats for 161 yards, though on 40 carries. For all we know, Andre Williams might get 30-35 himself; his season high is 42.
Normally, this is a funky defensive arrangement that, like some other teams we’ve seen in the recent past, has depth chart positions like “spur” and “bandit.” The “spur” for the Wildcats is a young man by the name of Tra’Mayne Bondurant, a junior who leads the team with four interceptions on the season. He also has 66 tackles; Will linebacker Marquis Flowers is tops in that department for Arizona with 86.
Arizona is perhaps not as blitz-happy as the Eagles defense, or just not as productive when it comes to sacking the quarterback. The Wildcats have 21 on the season, with the team being led there by senior defensive end Sione Tuihalamaka (5). Said individual also leads Arizona with 11 tackles for a loss.
The Wildcats have generated 80 percent of their turnovers via the interception (16 picks, four fumbles recovered). They are facing a quarterback in Chase Rettig who has limited the interceptions this year in part because he is throwing the ball a lot less. Also, for the most part, Andre Williams and Myles Willis have been steady with regards to holding onto the football this year, giving up nine as a team, which isn’t that bad considering how often they run. (Though, several fumbles were on players other than the running backs.)
In order for Arizona to get the better of this team, they have to find a way of being effective in run defense. This will lead the Eagles to have to put the game on Chase Rettig’s shoulders; he can do it if necessary (see: Syracuse, November 30), but if the ball is in the air, then the Wildcats can get opportunistic in one of their strengths, interceptions. If, however, they do not shut down Andre Williams, then it will be a long day for Arizona and Boston College will be able to do virtually whatever it wants.