UA football: Who's in and who's out
Arizona safety Chacho Ulloa catches a pass at a practice on Aug. 5. Ulloa will look to contribute as a true freshman this year.
Arizona football kicks off the 2016-17 season with questions on how the program will adjust to some key losses from 2016 and how the returning starters will help shape the future. The Wildcats will have a new-look defense under first year Defensive Coordinator Marcel Yates, who replaced Jeff Casteel, and could look different on the offensive side of the ball as well.
The major offensive additions will be the switch from defense to offense for junior Cam Denson and the quick shifty moves of true freshman J.J. Taylor. The ‘Cats could also see some contribution from Shawn Poindexter, a junior transfer from Glendale Community College who stands at 6’5” and is by far the ‘Cats tallest receiver.
The receiving core was hurt by the departures of Cayleb Jones and David Richards, who were the top two targets for the Wildcats last year and who brought size on the outside. Despite the loss, the offense will once again be the backbone for the Wildcats under Head Coach Rich Rodriguez.
Defensively, the most notable loss is All-American linebacker Scooby Wright. Will Parks is another loss to the secondary, and both players were two of the faces of the program these past few seasons.
Injuries ripped up the Wildcats’ linebacking core last year, and they return some pieces this year that will help solidify the front six. Cody Ippolito sat out all of 2015 after suffering a torn ACL. Ippolito played in most of the snaps in 2014, and will bring stability to the group.
The addition of Donte Williams as a defensive backs coach could provide huge dividends for the ‘Cats—it has already helped immensely on the recruiting trail.
The defensive line, perhaps the Wildcat’s weakest position group, took a hit with the loss of Reggie Gilbert who is currently fighting for a roster spot with the Green Bay Packers. One way to help the defense could be within the new schemes being implemented Yates.
Schemes, however, can only do so much, and ultimately, the talent has to be there.
With their new high-tempo look on defense and the return of an offense that can always put points on the board, there’s plenty of reasons for optimism for Arizona football this season.
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