As Rich Rodriguez continues to build his offense with the Arizona Wildcats, it could be his defense that will be the key to the Cats’ becoming contenders in the Pac-12. After finishing near the bottom of the conference in defense each of the last two years, Arizona must improve on the defensive side of the ball if they hope to make a run at the conference championship. The key to their defensive turnaround in 2014 will be the continued development of linebacker Scooby Wright who will be asked to step up as a leader this fall.
After coming to Arizona as a lightly recruited prospect, Wright made his presence felt quickly, earning a starting job with his athleticism and nose for the football. He finished fourth on the team with 83 tackles as a freshman in 2013 with nine tackles for loss and an interception. He was named Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 as well as a freshman All-American as he helped the Cats’ defense take steps to improve in 2013.
This year, Wright will be asked to shoulder a lot more responsibility on defense. The team loses their top two tacklers with linebackers Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers graduating. The pair combined for 203 tackles last season as seniors as the cornerstones of the Arizona defense. Without their production in the middle or their leadership, Wright has some major shoes to fill as a sophomore in 2014.
For the Wildcats to go from a dangerous underdog to conference title contender, they need more from their defense this season. The key to their success will more than likely rest on the young shoulders of Scooby Wright. Can the sophomore handle the burden of leadership this fall?