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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Rich Rod updates on Scooby, depth chart, and suspended players


Arizona linebacker Haden Gregory (49) attempts a tackle against UTSA on Thursday, Sept. 3.

With the first week of the college football season in the books, Arizona now looks ahead to a matchup with Nevada this Saturday.

The Wildcats received their fair share of challenges in a 42-32 victory over UTSA Thursday. Injuries to key players like Scooby Wright III, Freddie Tagaloa and Cam Denson thinned the Wildcats roster.

Arizona felt this effect especially on defense, when UTSA’s offense went for 525 total yards against the injury-depleted Wildcats. However, the Wildcats’ defense did score two touchdowns and blocked a field goal attempt as well.

“We don’t win that game without the two defensive turnovers,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “It was absolutely key for us, and not just getting a turnover but doing something with it.”

Rodriguez sees room for improvement from the Wildcats opening victory.

“We still have to get better on first down. Still have to get better in letting other teams control the tempo, which is what UTSA did in the last game,” Rodriguez said.

Wright, a preseason All-American, was the biggest loss for the Wildcats. At Monday’s press conference, Rodriguez said Wright will be out for 3-4 weeks.

Wright’s knee was scoped after being diagnosed with a lateral meniscus tear on Saturday. Rodriguez said the scope went well and Wright will push to be back as soon as he can.

“Whatever limits they’ll give him, he’ll stretch it all the way to the limit,” Rodriguez said. “That’s just Scooby’s personality.”

For the new players who experienced more playing time, Rodriguez thought the rookies did well and were not too awestruck by the moment.

“I don’t think we had a lot of missed assignments, particularly for our first game,” Rodriguez said. “But fundamentally, we can get a little bit better, particularly at tackling getting off blocks.”

The Wildcats also played without suspended players Samajie Grant, Tellas Jones and Anthony Fotu. These three will play against Nevada. Grant’s return will add even more depth to a loaded wide receiver squad.

“[Grant] brings a certain energy too,” Rodriguez said. “He’s so competitive. It was hurting him to sit out but that was the idea.”

The current depth chart looks almost identical to the one leading up to UTSA, only redshirt senior Haden Gregory will replace Wright as the starting middle linebacker. Senior Anthony Lopez, who scored the Wildcats first points on Thursday with an interception return, is listed to split time with Jones at the bandit position.

The Wildcats now look to the Wolf Pack who won their first game against UC Davis 31-17. The Wildcats defeated Nevada last year 35-28 in Tucson.

“They’ve got a pretty good game coming back. Their running game is good,” safety Will Parks said. “As long as we can stop the running game, I think we should be in pretty good shape.”

With the first game out of the way, the Wildcats will now face their first road test of the season as they have the rest of the week to prepare for Nevada.

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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