Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff: 98 days

We have reached 98 days — or 14 weeks 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).

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.

A look back

— With it being the 98th day ’til kickoff, the best player to wear No. 98 for Arizona? That would be linebacker LaMonte Hunley, who starred for the Wildcats from 1981 to 1984, playing with his brother Ricky — the best Arizona player in history — during most of that time. LaMonte made a name for himself as a third-team All-American as a senior. He finished with 400 career tackles.

LaMonte Hunley had over 400 tackles in his illustrious Arizona career.

Chuck Cecil’s school-record 100-yard interception return against ASU in 1986 is the longest in Arizona history. The second-longest is the 98-yard interception return against the Sun Devils made by Mikal Smith in 1996. The pick off Jake Plummer in Arizona’s 56-14 loss sparked controversy because while during the return, ASU lineman Glen Gable intentionally clipped Wildcat linebacker Daniel Greer from behind, causing severe damage to Greer’s knee. The incident led to a sideline-clearing brawl, including Arizona running back Kelvin Eafon attacking Gable on the field in retaliation after coach Dick Tomey was doing some tongue-lashing on the Sun Devil.

Former Arizona defensive lineman Joe Salave’a consoles Daniel Greer after Greer was injured on a personal foul (for a vicious clip) by ASU lineman Glen Gable (YouTube video capture)

A look ahead

How could it be that former Tucson High School standout Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles will already be a senior in 2018? Arizona’s bandit safety has played in all 38 games of his career, totaling six interceptions and 187 tackles. He has a chance to become one of only 24 Arizona players in history to reach at least 275 tackles in his career.

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They said it

SB Nation college football analyst Bill Connelly had this to write about Arizona’s 2018 outlook in a recent season preview:

“You can talk yourself into Arizona doing some impressive things this year. And with this schedule, the opportunity will be there. … The Wildcats (are projected) as no worse than a 4.5-point underdog in any one game, and if the defense exceeds its No. 94 projection, a 10-win season is on the table. Of course, it doesn’t take much spin to see how things go wrong, either. An offensive coordinator change is always an opportunity for regression, and considering the Wildcats allowed 31.6 points per game in wins last year, any slip could bring about a ton of close losses. All of this makes UA a massive wildcard out west, and you should watch wildcards.”

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