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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football vs. Mississippi State preview: Will the Wildcats extend their winning streak?

Tyler+Powell+%2887%29%2C+Keyan+Burnett+%2888%29+and+Roberto+Miranda+%2885%29+get+geared+up+for+the+first+home+football+game+of+the+season.+The+Wildcats+secured+a+38-3+win+against+NAU.
Caroline Bailey
Tyler Powell (87), Keyan Burnett (88) and Roberto Miranda (85) get geared up for the first home football game of the season. The Wildcats secured a 38-3 win against NAU.

The Arizona football team will face off against Mississippi State University on Saturday, Sept. 9, at 4:30 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. The Wildcats look to build on their week one victory over NAU as they face another familiar opponent and seek their second win of their season. 

History

Arizona and Mississippi State faced off for the first time last season. In their first meeting, the Bulldogs emerged victorious with a 39-17 win over the Wildcats, making the all-time series 1-0 in favor of Mississippi State. However, in this new era of Arizona football, they look to even the series with the Bulldogs.

The Wildcats will be traveling to Southeastern Conference country for the first time in 17 years to face the Bulldogs. Arizona is currently 1-6-1 all-time against opponents from the SEC with their sole victory at home over Auburn University in 1976

That said, this Arizona team, led by head coach Jedd Fisch, has been bolstered by adding players like true freshmen Leviticus Su’a, Brayden Dorman, Genesis Smith and Raymond Pulido. Other freshmen that had an instant impact last weekend against NAU included linebackers Taye Brown and Kamuela Ka’aihue, who each recorded a pair of tackles, and safeties Smith and Gavin Hunter, who posted one solo tackle apiece. These first-year players have earned their spots in the rotation on defense and special teams.

Miss. State’s offseason and week one performance

Heading into this season, the Bulldogs bolstered their roster with 27 freshman commits and 12 transfers. They added 16 new defensive players, 21 new offensive players and two special teams players. This roster has lost three talented players to the NFL in defensive back Emmanuel Forbes Jr., defensive linemen Cameron Young and Tyrus Wheat. The transfer portal also took 18 players, but they were able to completely reload their entire team with players of all positions. 

In Mississippi State’s season opener against Southeastern Louisiana University, they delivered a convincing 48-7 victory. Senior quarterback Will Rogers showcased his skills, going 20-for-29 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. The team’s leading rusher and receiver was senior running back Jo’Quavious Marks rushing for 127 yards and two touchdowns and catching four balls for 59 yards. Freshman wide receiver Creed Whittemore, a recent commit for Mississippi State, had an impressive debut, with 57 yards rushing, a rushing touchdown, 59 yards receiving and a receiving touchdown. Senior wide receiver Jaden Walley also posted a touchdown. Then to seal the win, redshirt freshman linebacker Avery Sledge had a blocked punt for a touchdown

Wildcats to watch 

Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura will be looking for some redemption against a familiar opponent. De Laura faced this team last year and had one of his worst performances as an Arizona Wildcat, putting up his worst passer rating of the season and throwing three interceptions. However, with another year under his belt in Fisch’s offense and with the additions to the offense, expect to see de Laura taking charge and not taking any unnecessary risks. 

Other Wildcats to watch out for in this matchup will be the Arizona defensive line. This year this unit is much deeper with a rotation of nine to 10 players, and standouts from this group include interior lineman Bill Norton who had three tackles and one tackle for a loss against NAU along with redshirt freshman Isaiah Ward who had three tackles with a pass break up. Additionally, sophomore Ta’ita’i Uiagalelei had three tackles with one TFL, and he blocked a field goal that was returned for an 85-yard touchdown by cornerback Tacario Davis. This side of the ball had relentless pressure on NAU’s quarterback and this unit is filled with smart, savvy players who step up to the plate when their number is called. 

With Arizona facing off against Mississippi State’s SEC offensive line in hostile territory, the extra bodies on the defensive line might just end up being the difference in the game.

After a leisurely opening weekend, Arizona faces a tough week two opponent on the road. If the Wildcats hope to come out victorious and keep their winning streak alive, they will need their playmakers to step up when the game gets close and slow down this high-powered offense with their new-look defense. It’s a tall task but, in this new era of Arizona football, it might just be possible.


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