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Arizona allowed more than 35 points per game in 2012, and in Pac-12 games, the Wildcats yielded 40 on average. So far this season the defense has allowed just three touchdowns and two field goals.
It's pretty much the same players as last year, so why the improvement? Some credit goes to added experience for guys like linebackers Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers, safety Jared Tevis and cornerback Tra'Mayne Bondurant, each of whom started at least 10 of those high-scoring shootouts from '12.
But even more so, another year of working against Arizona's offense in practice has made the defensive unit more adept at spotting patterns in the wide-open offenses that have been commonplace in the Pac-12 and are becoming more prevalent across FBS.
As a result, Arizona's defenders are not just trying to slow down opponents, they're actually making stops. The Wildcats have registered eight takeaways and five sacks so far, with Bondurant tied for the FBS lead in interceptions with three.
Whether this trend will continue come Pac-12 play, though, remains to be seen. Five of Arizona's nine conference games are against teams currently ranked in the top 30 in total offense, including its next foe, fourth-rated Washington.