TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez inherited quarterback Matt Scott, running back Ka’Deem Carey and receiver Austin Hill when he arrived, a trio of nice parting gifts from Mike Stoops.No such luck on defense.Rodriguez and defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel began their rebuild with a few nice pieces, including now-departed linebacker Jake Fischer, but the words Rodriguez most often used to describe his defense in the first two seasons were “hanging on.”Depth? The Wildcats mostly were out of theirs.A typical team will split its scholarships between offense and defense fairly equally, with a couple leftover for special teams. So, 40 to 42 scholarship defenders is the norm.In Rodriguez’s first year at Arizona, 2012, he was playing with 28 defensive players who had been offered initial scholarships (excluding walk-ons who were later given full rides) — and 10 of those were true freshmen.That number is now pushing 40.There is still a ways to go in Casteel’s 3-3-5 scheme, but size, speed and depth all have improved, and the trends are going in the right direction. Consider: Arizona allowed 6.59 yards per play in the final year of the Mike Stoops era. The Cats, even with all their initial defensive problems under… Read full this story
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