Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff: 77 days

We are at 77 days — or 11 Saturdays from today — until the Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2018 season under new coach Kevin Sumlin.

When Arizona hosts BYU on Sept. 1, it will mark the 40th anniversary since the Wildcats joined the Pac-12 (went from the Pac-8 to the Pac-10 then) and also the 20th anniversary of the 1998 team with the best record in school history, 12-1, and the 25th anniversary of the 1993 team that went 10-2 with a win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

To get ready for the upcoming season, All Sports Tucson offers another countdown, which will include memories from former Wildcats, history notes and a look ahead to the season. Think of it as a way to keep Arizona football on the mind in the summer months leading up to fall camp in early August and then kickoff against the Cougars marking the start of the Sumlin Era.

To catch up on the countdown click on this: Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff.

A look back

— With it being the 77th day until kickoff, the best player to wear No. 77 for Arizona? That would be defensive tackle Mike Dawson, a Tucson High grad who had 15 tackles for loss as a senior, earning second-team All-America honors. He went 16th overall, picked by the St. Louis Cardinals, in the 1976 NFL draft. He played with the Cardinals through 1982 and then with the Detroit Lions in 1983 and Kansas City Chiefs in 1984.

A look ahead

Michigan State transfer Thiyo Lukusa, who played played in eight games at right tackle with the Spartans as a true freshman in 2016, projects to be a starter heading into the season for the Wildcats with regular starter Layth Friekh out for the first two games in order to gain his fifth year of eligibility.

The question is, will Lukusa’s heart be 100 percent into football, lured to Arizona by former coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff last August after he quit the team at Michigan State citing he had not been in love with football since his sophomore or junior year in high school.

Thiyo Lukusa has a history of playing in the Big Ten, participating in eight games with Michigan State in 2016 as a true freshman (Lukusa photo)

When leaving Michigan State, Lukusa, 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, originally planned to play basketball at Arizona Western College.

“Lukusa will probably take a back seat to Friekh in week three, but will likely serve as a swing tackle from there,” Gabe Encinas of Arizona Desert Swarm writes.

They tweeted it

The Khalil Tate #EraZona poster figures to be a hot draw. The posters will be released on Tuesday.

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