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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats banged up in season opening victory against UTSA


Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III (33) heads toward the pileup while playing against UTSA in Arizona Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 3. Wright was injured in the first quarter.

Coming into their first game of the 2015 regular season, the Arizona Wildcats could not afford to lose more players to injury. 

Unfortunately, luck was not on their side.

The evening began as redshirt junior Freddie Tagaloa was held out due to an injury he sustained earlier in the week. Tagaloa was the projected starter at right tackle. Sophomore Layth Friekh started in his place. 

Then, the nightmares of every Arizona fan became a reality.

Late in the first quarter, All-American linebacker Scooby Wright III left the game with a left knee injury. As the game wore on and the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year continued to ice his knee, it became more apparent that his return was unlikely. 

Wright appeared on Pac-12 Networks when he came out of the tunnel after halftime wearing street clothes and walking with a cane. 

As of now, Wright was scheduled to get an MRI late Thursday night on his left knee and has not been given a diagnosis of the injury’s severity. 

“I don’t think it’s bad—MCL, ACL or whatever—but I hate to speculate,” said head coach Rich Rodriguez after the game. “We’ll see what happens.”

Sophomore Cam Denson also left the game in the first quarter.

On top of these injuries, suspensions loomed. Receiver Samajie Grant, safety Tellas Jones and defensive tackle Anthony Fotu were suspended for violating team rules, according to reports. 

After listing each player who was out, Rodriguez added jokingly, “That’s too many guys. I’m getting depressed.”

The pre-game suspensions and in-game injuries pile onto the ones the Wildcats sustained in training camp. Carter Wood, Trevor Wood and Cody Ippolito were all lost to season-ending injuries before the Wildcats had even one snap. Receivers Tyrell Johnson and Trey Griffey also missed the UTSA game.

Injuries are a part of the game that nobody likes to see. In a collision sport like football, they are tough to avoid. The Wildcats could have prepared, conditioned and practiced better than anyone in the country. Yet, as fate has it, players still get hurt.

Arizona undoubtedly struggled, but fans should not panic just yet. While Wright’s injury remains unknown, the other injuries sustained by the starters do not seem to be anything major. The impact of today is lessened if the Wildcats can return Tagaloa, Denson and the rest within the next week or two. And, at the moment, Wright’s injury is all speculation. The full extent remains a mystery. 

The UA benefitted by playing its first game on a Thursday because they will now have the rest of the weekend and all of next week to heal and prepare for Nevada. 

The Wildcats should also be thankful that they played this particular game against UTSA and not a Pac-12 opponent. A game with this many injuries against, say, UCLA or USC would have been much more difficult. They came out with the win and can now adjust accordingly.

Should there be concern? Yes. Any time a team’s most dominant player goes down, panic ensues. While we wait for the results of Wright’s MRI, players like Haden Gregory will be asked to step up. 

However, if these injuries do haunt the team, the Wildcats are now forced to adapt even more. The Pac-12 South is a meat grinder this season, and Arizona will need plenty of help if they want to remain relevant in this brutal division. 

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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