Arizona’s defense has struggled even by Pac-12 standards and coach Kevin Sumlin has decided to make significant changes. Sumlin has fired defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing, according to Tuscon.com, among other reports. Defensive analyst Chuck Cecil has been promoted and will take over as the defensive coordinator for the remainder of the season.
Yates had been the defensive coordinator of the Wildcats since 2016, and he was retained by Sumlin when he took over prior to the 2018 season. He was also on Sumlin’s initial staff at Texas A&M where he served as defensive coordinator from 2012-13.
The Wildcats defense has been a disappointment this season. It currently ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in total defense after giving up 469.9 yards per game, and it is eighth in defensive yards per play (6.2) and 125th in red zone defense with opponents having scored on 34-of-36 opportunities (94.44 percent).
Arizona’s defensive ineptitude came to a head on Saturday when it lost on the road to Stanford, 41-31. Those 41 points were 10 more than the Cardinal had scored in any other game this season. The loss to Stanford dropped Arizona to 4-4 (2-3 Pac-12) and puts it two games back in the Pac-12 South.
Cecil played safety for the Wildcats from 1984-87; he was a consensus All-American in 1987 and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Cecil got his start in coaching as an analyst with the Tennessee Titans in 2001 and worked his way up to become the team’s defensive coordinator from 2009-10. He served as an analyst on Rodriguez’ staff in 2017 and was retained by Sumlin when he got the head coaching job prior to the 2018 season.
The Wildcats will host Oregon State on Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET.