Arizona defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen takes blame for tackling, technique after Cal loss
When Johnny Nansen looked at film of Saturday’s 49-31 loss to Cal, he came away with one overarching conclusion: “I didn’t do a good job preparing our guys. There were a lot of things that are fixable on tape.” He didn’t think guys were in the right spots. Eyes weren’t where they needed to be. He said it’s time to go back to the drawing board. “But I don’t think it’s a personnel type of deal,” he said.
Arizona gave up 354 rushing yards to Cal. Freshman Cal running back Jaydn Ott went for 274 yards on 19 carries. According to Pro Football Focus, there were 17 missed tackles in the game by the Arizona defense. Twelve different players were charged with at least one whiff.
On Monday, Arizona coach Jedd Fisch keyed in on the tackling issue. He, like Nansen, thought gap integrity was poor (it was) but even when the Wildcats were in position to make a play, the first guy missed too often. It’s a growing problem; Arizona has 49 missed tackles in four games.
The Wildcats don’t tackle to the ground during in-season practices, and four games into the year Fisch doesn’t think they can start now if they want to stay healthy going forward. But they are going to double up on tackling drills.
“The key of tackling is body position, and if we can continue to emphasize being in the right body position, then I think we’ll do a better job of getting them down,” Fisch said. “I’ve never been anywhere where you take them to the ground in the season, so it would be probably the same for everybody.”
Technique needs to be better.
“Today, we’re going back to fundamentals, going back to spring ball,” Nansen said. “All the little things: take on blocks, shedding blocks, using your hands, making sure your eyes are in the right place. It all starts there. When things are not going right, it’s not (time) to blame, it’s (time) to go back to the fundamentals of the game and doing things right.”
Arizona (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) hosts winless Colorado on Saturday for a 6:30 p.m. PT kick.