Arizona football boosts staff with defensive hires


Tyler Baker

Arizona safety Carter Hehr (37) tackles Washington State wide reciever Robert Lewis (15) at Arizona Stadium on Oct. 24, 2015.

Kyle Hansen

Head coach Rich Rodriguez and company made a splash Monday with the announcement of hiring Marcel Yates as the Wildcats’ new defensive coordinator.
Rodriguez also hired Donte Williams as a defensive assistant. Williams served as the secondaries coach for the San Jose State Spartans over the past three seasons.
Yates comes to Tucson via Boise State, where he guided the Broncos to one of the better defenses in college football. In 2015, Boise State ranked No. 24 in yards allowed per game, as well as No. 26 in points allowed per game.
The Wildcats defense has consistently been at the bottom of the college football world, ranking No. 106 in points per game allowed and No. 114 in yards per game.
In short, Yates will be tasked with fixing the weakest link on this Arizona football team.
While the defense did struggle, Arizona had several impact players who made a difference, but will be gone next year. This includes All-American linebacker Scooby Wright III, who left for the NFL Draft one year early.
Safeties Will Parks and Jamar Allah will also be gone, as well as defensive lineman Reggie Gilbert.
One common enemy Arizona and Yates had last season was the University of Washington. Boise State faced Washington the first game of the season. The Broncos defense held the Huskies to only 13 points and 179 of total yards on offense.
However, Arizona’s outcome was a little different.
The Wildcats were blown out by the Huskies, 49-3. Washington’s offense ran wild, as they racked up 468 total yards on offense and averaged about 7.7 yards per play.
Yates and Williams have been praised as smart hires and it’s hard to argue against that. Both are considered bright, young coaches with recruiting connections in California. Yates grew up in the Los Angeles area and has experience coaching at big schools, as he coached at Texas A&M before he went to Boise State.
Williams also has experience working in the Pac-12. According to the San Jose Mercury News, he spent time under Steve Sarkisian as a graduate assistant at Washington.
Another major question surrounding these hires is what defensive scheme Arizona will run next season. Under former defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, Arizona ran a 3-3-5.
Yates ran a 4-2-5 defense with Boise State. This defensive strategy relies on good pressure from the lineman who are spread out wide while also keeping safeties roaming to protect the deep ball, but close enough to help in run stopping.
Only time will tell what option he chooses to use.
As for recruiting, both have some interesting talent to work with as they come in. Despite losing a bunch of players, Arizona will retain this year’s defensive standout in Paul Magloire.
The Wildcats will get a chance to work with a few three star defensive recruits, including linebacker Kahi Neves, London Iakopo and local Tucson player Justin Holt; and there is still plenty of recruiting to be done.