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3-2-1, football: The Daily’s primer on Arizona

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Arizona's Gary Brightwell (23) runs towards the end zone against UCLA at Spieker Field at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Oct. 20, 2018. 

After their second loss of the season to Stanford, the Washington football team is on the road for the second consecutive week as they travel to Tucson to take on Arizona. Let’s take a closer look at the keys and figures of the Huskies’ fourth conference opponent of the 2019 season, the Wildcats.

3 numbers to know

9: The Wildcat defense is tied for third in the FBS with nine interceptions, trailing only Florida and San Jose State this season. Prior to not recording an interception in their game last weekend, Arizona has tallied at least one interception in their previous four games. The opportunistic defense forced four interceptions against Cole MacDonald and Hawai’i in their season opener.

221: Quarterback Khalil Tate leads the Arizona aerial attack yet the Wildcats are 29th in the FBS in team rushing offense. Six ball carriers have at least 15 carries on the season for Arizona. Long gains of 94 and 84 yards demonstrate the Wildcats’ ability to strike for an explosive play on any given down. With the running game averaging 5.7 yards per carry, the Arizona run game provide a great tandem with their passing game.

7: Washington and Arizona have not faced off since their last matchup in 2016 that ended in a seven-point victory for the Huskies in overtime. 2015’s matchup between the Huskies and Wildcats ended with a blowout win for Washington, but in 2014 Arizona emerged victorious with a narrow 27-26 win. The UW has had trouble playing in the desert so expect a close matchup in this year’s game.

2 players to watch

Gary Brightwell - RB

Because of injuries to fellow tailback J.J. Taylor, junior running back Gary Brightwell has emerged for the Wildcats. He’s averaging a healthy 6.5 per yards on 44 carries and has added four touchdowns on the ground with a season long run of 94 yards. Even though Arizona spreads its touches around in the running game, Brightwell is someone to keep an eye on.

Jace Whittaker - CB

Redshirt senior cornerback Jace Whittaker has established himself as a ballhawking playmaker for the Arizona secondary. After playing in only one game during the 2018 season due to an elbow injury, it only took Whittaker two games this year to match his 2017 interception total of three. In addition to the interceptions, he’s added 13 tackles and four passes defended.

1 recap of last week

After their season opening loss to Hawai’i, Arizona has rattled off four consecutive wins and lead the Pac-12 South. The Wildcats scored the first touchdown of the game in the first quarter off a seven-yard reception from Stanley Berryhill. 

Colorado outscored Arizona by 10 points in the second quarter and led at halftime by a score of 20-14. Arizona added two more touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 28-27 advantage. Colorado briefly took the lead in the fourth quarter before Arizona responded with a touchdown on a five-yard touchdown run by running back Nathan Tillford.

Reach reporter Evan Wong at Twitter: @evan_wong29

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