Rich Rodriguez answered the question, posed by an Arizona State University fan, rather succinctly. Receiver Richard Morrison and linebacker Jake Fischer, who were flanking the second-year Arizona coach, answered the same.
The question was about how much last year’s Territorial Cup loss to ASU weighs on their minds throughout the day, and it provided a jovial moment during the Wildcats’ portion of Pac-12 Media Day in Culver City, California.
Whether or not that is actually true we will never know, but suffice to say of all the questions facing the Wildcats heading into 2013, that one is probably low on the list.
At the top would be the team’s quarterback situation, as Rodriguez is looking for someone to replace Matt Scott.
“I know there’s a lot of concern, certainly from the fans, and I understand that because Matt Scott was so good last year,” Rodriguez said. “But we have some talented guys.”
The coach mentioned senior B.J. Denker, who played some last season, as well as transfer Jesse Scroggins, and added that there are some intriguing freshmen coming in, too.
Finding someone from that group is of the utmost importance.
“What’s going to be really critical for us as coaches is in the first two to three weeks of August, putting those guys in a lot of different situations and see who emerges.
“We might not know the answer by the first couple games, but we’ve got enough talent there so we’ll be okay.”
That’s the hope, as if the Wildcats are going to win games it will most likely be due to their offense.
Last season, Rodriguez’s first in Tucson, the Wildcats finished 15th in FBS by scoring 38.2 points per game, but they were also 105th in points allowed, giving up an average of 35.3 points per contest. Their defense was easily one of the worst in the country, and that’s not likely to change in just one season.
But, it does have to change.
“We were young at times and certainly we had a few injuries that hurt us,” Rodriguez said of last year’s struggles to stop teams. “We knew coming in that we were going to be hanging on a little bit defensively just because of our lack of depth and experience, but a lot of guys are back. They’re a year older, a year stronger, a little more experienced, certainly.”
The coach also said there will be more competition and depth, which should help, as would a bit more luck in the health department.
“I like what we do defensively, I like the players that we have coming back, and I think they’re going to play with a chip on their shoulder and you’ll see a lot better defensive performance this fall.”
The Wildcats, who were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South by the conference’s media, will kickoff their season on August 30 against Northern Arizona University in Tucson.