The No. 22 Arizona Wildcats opened the 2015 season with a 42-32 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners on Thursday night but didn’t exactly leave the game feeling great about things. Not only was the game closer than Rich Rodriguez would have liked it to be, but the team’s defensive leader, linebacker Scooby Wright, was forced out of the game in the first quarter with a knee injury. Pending an MRI on the injured knee, Arizona’s defense should be collectively holding their breath that the injury is minor.
Wright is one of the top linebackers in the nation after leading the country in tackles, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles in 2014 on his way to earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He is the cornerstone of the Wildcats defense and integral to anything they hope to accomplish in 2015.
That might it all the more concerning when he hobbled off the field midway through the first quarter and never returning to the field. On the sideline, trainers were spotted treating the knee with ice before Wright walked off the field with a noticeable limp and with the help of a cane.
Without their defensive leader, Arizona’s defense got worn down by the Roadrunner offense, surrendering 525 total yards on the night to UTSA. Thankfully, the Wildcat offense was able to put up enough points to secure the season-opening win and get the season off to a positive start.
If Scooby Wright is forced to miss any significant amount of time, however, that positive start might not mean too much when Arizona hits the meat of the their schedule. Getting the best defensive player in the conference back on the field and 100 percent healthy is going to be a deciding factor in how far the Wildcats go in the race for the Pac-12 South title in 2015.