Arizona Football

2024 Arizona football season countdown: 71 days to kickoff

To get ready for the upcoming Arizona football season, All Sports Tucson offers a countdown, which will include history notes and a look ahead to the season — a good way to keep Arizona football on the mind in the summer months leading up to fall camp in early August and then kickoff against New Mexico on Aug. 31 in the start of the Brent Brennan era.



Embed from Getty Images

With it being the 71st day until kickoff between the Lobos and Wildcats, the best player to wear No. 71 for Arizona is defensive tackle Chuck Osborne, who played at Arizona from 1992 to 1995. Osborne had 18 sacks in his final two seasons, phenomenal for an interior lineman. He sadly passed away in 2012 at age 38 from what doctors would later determine from complications related to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a brain injury mostly likely suffered from his football career. Osborne led the Wildcats with 11 sacks in 1994, an admirable accomplishment on a team that included Arizona career sacks leader Tedy Bruschi. Osborne, who played in the interior with Rob WaldropTy PartenJim Hoffman and Joe Salave’a through his career, finished with 21 career sacks, the 10th-best total in school history. A seventh-round draft pick by the Rams in 1996, he sacked Stanford quarterback Steve Stenstrom four times in a 1994 game, but his most memorable play came in his final game — 1995 at Arizona State. Arizona rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit that day, tying the game when Osborne sacked Jake Plummer, knocking the ball loose. Salave’a scooped it up and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown. The Cats went on to win 31-28. “You talk about the guys who personified hard-nosed tough guys, he was one of those guys,” teammate Heath Bray, who passed away earlier this year, told in 2018 of Osborne. “If there was one human being on the planet I had to go into hand-to-hand combat with on my side, I can’t think of anyone I would pick ahead of him.”


Jonah Savaiinaea

Savaiinaea, 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds, was an All-Pac-12 honorable-mention selection after he made the Outland Trophy Preason Watch List. The junior from Honolulu has started all 25 games in his career.  Started all 13 games during his second season with the Wildcats. He finished second on the team with an overall blocking grade (69.7 per Pro Football Focus).. Third on team with 81.7 run-blocking grade (per PFF). Allowed two sacks in 889 snaps (per PFF).


Arizona has two cornerbacks rated as among the best 10 in the Big 12 heading into the season by Pro Football Focus. Tacario Davis is rated No. 3 behind Colorado’s Preston Hodge and West Virginia’s Ayden Garnes. Treydan Stukes, a former walk-on, is rated No. 10.


“Arizona brings back four of five starters from its secondary last season, including a top-five cornerback in Tacario Davis. The first thing you notice about him is his freakish size at 6-foot-4. That length allows him to significantly bother receivers at the catch point. The sophomore posted a 27.8% forced incompletion rate in 2023, ranking fifth among Power Five cornerbacks. Davis forced more incompletions (14) in single coverage than he allowed catches (11). Slot cornerback Treydan Stukes and safety Gunner Maldonado also return and each earned 75.0-plus PFF grades last season.” — Pro Football Focus analysis of Arizona’s secondary, which it rates No. 10 in the nation.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top