Arizona Football: Jayden de Laura is the answer to resurrect program

It’s been a rough few years for the Arizona football program, but now, they have a proven quarterback in transfer Jayden de Laura to lead the Wildcats back.

Arizona football is a combined 5-24 over the past three seasons and the program’s biggest problem, like many struggling teams, is quarterback inconsistency.

In each of those years, multiple QBs either split time or struggled to maintain success. However, the trend of poor play at the position looks to be in the rearview mirror, as former Washington State starting signal-caller Jayden de Laura announced he’d be transferring to the Wildcats for the 2022 season.

The redshirt sophomore QB checks plenty of the boxes that the program and second-year head coach Jedd Fisch need, to get the Wildcats turned around.

First, de Laura was productive, throwing for 3,684 yards on 7.5 career yards per attempt and 28 touchdowns against just 13 interceptions in his two-year career as a starter. Furthermore, he completed 62.5-percent of his throws and added five touchdowns on the ground.

Those numbers are in an entirely different stratosphere compared to each of the last two passing seasons from the Wildcats. In 2021, Arizona’s platoon of QBs combined for 2,716 yards, 12 touchdowns against a brutal 18 interceptions on just 6.13 yards per attempt.

The five-game, 2020 campaign was about the same, as the Arizona football passing game produced 1,065 yards and six TDs compared to seven INTs on only 5.83 yards per attempt.

Also, the team completed about 60.5-percent of its passes in each of those years. All stats that are lower than de Laura’s output.

Now, not to lack context, the situation at WSU was certainly better than at Arizona, but the former Cougars’ QB is used to success and elevated the team’s play in a bowl-bound season last year.

De Laura gives Arizona football a proven winner

This brings us to de Laura’s second key attribute, he’s a proven winner at the college level. He logged a win-loss mark of 7-4 in 11 starts in 2021. He did most of that in an adverse situation too, as the team started 1-3, and he had to regain his starting job after some off-the-field issues. His solid record included helping the Cougars to a 6-3 run down the final stretch of the year.

Finally, de Laura carries a well-versed skill set that can help him succeed in his move to Tucson. He isn’t a prototypical passer, measuring in at 6-feet and weighing 195 pounds, but he fits the ever-growing trend of sawed-off, dual-threat passers. He is compact with quick-twitch athleticism and the ability to quickly set his feet and fire on target with plenty of velocity on the ball.

He’s also accurate and boasts great ball placement, which was no doubt aided by him playing in a pass-first offense like Wazzu’s run-and-shoot. It’s a system that relies heavily on the QB completing a high percentage of throws and staying ahead of the sticks. The weight of the offense always rests on a QB’s shoulders but in the run-and-shoot, there’s an extra burden to carry, and de Laura wasn’t fazed by that pressure.

He didn’t just take what the defense gave him either, as noted by his 7.5 yards per attempt. He ripped plenty of intermediate throws into tight windows, tossed long-range passes with touch, and hit receivers in stride on short routes, which led to extra yards after the catch.

De Laura understands when to use touch and when to rifle a ball in as well. An important trait when it comes to throwing a nice catchable ball for the wideout.

Those are passing traits he showed a few times in the Cougars’ win over his new team this past fall (Video Courtesy of the Pac-12 Network). It’s difficult stepping into any situation where losing has become common, but de Laura is well-equipped to handle the situation.