Editor’s note: Seventh in a series of articles examining each of the Pac-12 football teams heading into the 2022 season.

Over the past three years, Arizona football has posted a 5-24 record. 

Perhaps the lowest point of that stretch came at the end of its winless COVID-19-impaired season in 2020 with a humiliating 70-7 thrashing at the hands of arch-rival Arizona State. 

Jedd Fisch became the head coach going into the 2021 campaign and in his first season at the helm, the Wildcats snapped a 20-game losing streak. But they finished 1-11, including a loss to Northern Arizona.

Despite that dreadful record, Arizona was encouraged by a good performance late in the season against Utah. And the Wildcats signed one of their top recruiting classes in program history over the winter — highlighted by five-star receiver Tetairoa McMillan. 

Storylines and subplots heading into 2022 Pac-12 football season

Arizona has shown signs of improvement and there’s hope in Tucson that the Wildcats will be able to build on that momentum and take a big jump forward in 2022.

On offense, Arizona has added Washington State transfer quarterback Jayden de Laura and UTEP wide receiver Jacob Cowing. At WSU last season, de Laura completed 227 of 359 passes for 2,798 yards with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. 

Defensively, the Wildcats surrendered 32.7 points per game a year ago. Defensive coordinator Don Brown took a job at UMass and Johnny Nansen, previously at UCLA, has taken over that spot. 

While Nansen has a lot of experience, including with Chip Kelly at UCLA, this is his first time as a college coordinator. 

The Wildcats did add defensive tackle Tiaoalii Savea, a UCLA transfer. 

Pac-12 previews: After losing several close games last year, can Cal Golden Bears get bowl-eligible this year?
Pac-12 previews: What does first-year coach Dan Lanning bring to the Oregon Ducks?
Pac-12 previews: Oregon State finally had a winning season in 2021, so what’s next for the Beavers?
Pac-12 previews: Stanford coach David Shaw wants Tanner McKee to ‘jump on to the national stage’
Pac-12 previews: Washington hoping for a turnaround under new coach Kalen DeBoer
Pac-12 previews: There’s optimism at Washington State with Jake Dickert at the helm

This spring, The Athletic asked Fisch what are reasonable expectations for Arizona football.

“I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Fisch said. “I feel like there is no ceiling. I really believe that. I really believe the sky is the limit here. We have all the resources we need to be able to be successful as long as we can start becoming successful. As we build it, I would never want to put a cap on what we can accomplish. That’s not the way we talk. … I hope we’re just getting started.” 

2021 record: 1-11 (1-8 Pac-12).

Utah ties

LB Jeremy Mercier (Utah transfer)

2022 schedule

Sept. 3 @ San Diego State

Sept. 10 Mississippi State

Sept. 17 North Dakota State

Sept. 24 @ California

Oct. 1 @ Colorado

Oct. 8 Oregon

Oct. 15 @ Washington

Oct. 29 USC

Nov. 5 @ Utah

Nov. 12 @ UCLA

Nov. 19 Washington State

Nov. 25 Arizona State

Next up: Arizona State

Arizona added Washington State QB Jayden de Laura to the roster in the offseason. At WSU last season, de Laura completed 227 of 359 passes for 2,798 yards with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions.  | Ted S. Warren, Associated Press