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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football must overcome offseason injuries

An+Arizona+Athletics+trainer+stretches+offensive+lineman+T.D.+Grosss+leg+at+practice+on+Sunday.+Trainers+work+with+athletes+to+treat+and+prevent+injuries.
Alex McIntyre

An Arizona Athletics trainer stretches offensive lineman T.D. Gross’s leg at practice on Sunday. Trainers work with athletes to treat and prevent injuries.

Football is an extremely violent and physical sport, so it’s hard to stay healthy throughout the year. Even though the college football season hasn’t started yet, the Arizona football squad is already dinged up.

A few key pieces are expected to miss the entire season. As the season opener against UTSA nears, the injuries continue to stack up, and Arizona may be tested Thursday night with crucial components that keep the drive for the Pac-12 Conference title going.

Oddly, there’s a trend of injured players from Scottsdale, Ariz., specifically those who played at Chaparral High School under current assistant coach Charlie Ragle.

Arizona’s first, and arguably biggest, injury of the fall occurred at the center position. When it was announced that UA’s center Carter Wood will no longer lace up the cleats for Arizona due to a chronic foot injury, it sent waves of worry through the program.

Wood was planning on replacing Steven Gurrola after serving as his backup for two seasons. Right now, it appears that senior Cayman Bundage will take over the starting spot at center.

Linebacker Cody Ippolito, another Chaparral product, will also miss the entire season. Head coach Rich Rodriguez announced Friday that Ippolito tore his ACL during Monday’s practice.

Ippolito is no stranger to ACL injuries after missing the 2013 season with a torn ACL. Perhaps he has the Derrick Rose or Robert Griffin III effect and will have to deal with this type of injury his entire career.

Ippolito started six games for the Wildcats in 2014 and recorded 52 tackles.

According to the depth chart released by Arizona on Friday, Ippolito’s replacements could include DeAndre’ Miller, Jake Matthews and Sir Thomas Jackson.

Just when it seemed the list of injured Chaparral players was going to stop, Rodriguez announced that tight end Trevor Wood would undergo season ending shoulder surgery and will be a redshirt sophomore next year.

This season would have been the perfect year for Wood to see action on the field, especially after Rodriguez said he would often flirt with the tight end packages at practice.

Now the load will be on Josh Kern’s shoulders. Kern will have to be in great shape if he plans on adding another dimension to Rodriguez’s famous spread offense.

Speaking of spread offense, a pair of Arizona receivers in Trey Griffey and Tyrell Johnson will miss the season opener with foot injuries.

Griffey, who has been battling a foot injury all summer, was recently seen rehabbing at practice by running a three-quarter sprint up and down the field. He was also seen wearing a brace on his injured foot.

As for Johnson, the special team’s blossom last season, he will look to have the same role this year. Look for Griffey and Johnson to be out as late as the Pac-12 home opener against UCLA.

In the secondary, Arizona defensive back Jarvis McCall Jr. also missed most of camp with a shoulder injury and is questionable for Thursday’s game.

McCall is expected to bring the experience that Arizona needs in the secondary, so the Wildcats will have to deal with an even younger core with the exception of senior Will Parks.

For now, freshman Sammy Morrison is expected to start at cornerback along with DaVonte’ Neal.

The Wildcats will look to overcome their early injuries in the season opener against UTSA on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Arizona Stadium.


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