Arizona set out with a goal last offseason: get markedly better on offense. The Wildcats were coming off a 1-11 campaign and needed to make significant strides on both sides of the football. Quarterback Jayden de Laura joined the program, a slew of newcomers joined him with a penchant for playmaking, and the Wildcats took a major step forward.

A four-win improvement was significant. The offense was much better. But the Wildcats entered into this most recent offseason with plenty of work left to do. And the attention shifted to raising the level of defensive play.

Saturday’s spring game had a running clock, bonus points for extra points scored by non-kickers, a splash zone, and unofficial statkeeping. “Games are hard, practices are really hard, the spring game doesn’t need to be really hard,” coach Jedd Fisch said after. So, takeaways from the 15th practice of the spring period might be a little hasty.

But Fisch, after taking in the totality of the period, is pleased with where his defense is coming out of spring.

“Offense picked up where they left off, and I feel like the defense made one of the bigger jumps that I’ve ever seen,” he said after the scrimmage.

The group forced (and recovered) a pair of fumbles on the day. They got in for multiple “sacks.” Arizona didn’t do enough of the latter last season, registering only 16 sacks in 12 games to rank next-to-last in the conference.

“We’re gonna try to bring it all and we’re gonna try to get the ball out every time,” said former Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe. “So, that’s the new Zona. We love it.”

More than anything, Fisch thinks the defense is flocking to the football more than it has before.

“I’ve never seen a defense go out there and make such a jump in terms of 11 guys chasing after the ball on any play,” Fisch said. “That’s a huge, huge difference.”

Fisch says the Wildcats are at halftime on their offseason — 141 days removed from the Territorial Cup win and 140 days away from the 2023 opener. What happens next will be just as important as what occurred over the last 15 practices.