Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/26/13
TUCSON, Ariz. There are a few ways to look at Arizonas defense coming out of spring practice, but theres one undisputed one: Its got to get better. It seemingly cant get any worse than it was last year, at least when it comes to numbers, because it was miserable. UA finished 105th nationally in scoring defense (35.3 points per game allowed) and 118th in total defense (499 yards per game allowed). Of course, the Wildcats finished last in the Pac-12 in defense -- and still managed to finish 8-5 overall and win the New Mexico Bowl. Imagine what they could have done with a decent defense. In preparation for next season, it didnt help that, because of myriad injuries, UA was limited in spring ball. Accordingly, tackling wasnt a priority. Some guys were playing before their time, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said after the annual spring game earlier this month. We dont do a lot of tackling in the spring because we are worried about injuries, but we (got injuries) anyway. We did OK. We were limited defensively. They ran two coverages and two different fronts. More will be learned in August and beyond. But this is what Rodriguez knows now. DEFENSIVE STANDOUT The good news is that its the old, reliable guys -- veteran inside linebacker Jake Fischer, for one -- who impressed most in spring. But Fischer was limited, in part because the coaches didnt need to see what he could do. They needed other guys to step up, and a couple did. Rodriguez said the Cats did get better on the defensive line, notably with senior nose guard Tevin Hood and senior lineman Sione Tuihalamaka, but with so many guys out, it wasnt a good evaluation. ON THE RISE Look for senior Richard Morrison to have some sort of impact in the defensive backfield even though hes just a rookie at the cornerback spot after switching from wide receiver. But he wants to play, and corner looks to be the best spot for him. Apparently, hes a quick study. That was a good move for us, Rodriguez said. Hell be able to help us over there. He showed some good signs. POSITION OF STRENGTH As Rodriguez put it, If we dont play at a higher level, it doesnt matter. And hes right. There really isnt one position of strength. The strength will be that the unit will simply be more experienced and tested. But will that translate to a better defense? Well have more competition when the freshmen get here, too, Rodriguez said. I wouldnt say anything is a strength defensively. POSITION OF CONCERN See above. Rodriguez said, all of them," mostly because of depth. That said, Morrison will help at the cornerback spot, and UA has some quality linebackers in seniors Fischer and Marquis Flowers and sophomores Keoni Bush Loo and Shadow Williams. AUDIBLES Former graduate assistant Matt Caponi was promoted to safeties coach and did a nice job and knows our system, Rodriguez said. He replaces Tony Gibson, who had worked under Rodriguez for most of his coaching career but left for a job at West Virginia. Caponi worked with current Rodriguez assistants Calvin McGee and Tony Dews at Pittsburgh. HELP ON THE WAY Itll come in the form of linebackers and defensive backs. But it is clear that some of the freshmen will have to step up before they are totally ready. If they can learn, theyll be able to help us quickly, Rodriguez said. We are so razor thin, and (in the coming year) we will still be thin, but we will have experience to have some competitive practices in the fall."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Richard Sherman shades Bills for benching Tyrod Taylor

Report: D’Onta Foreman believed to have torn Achilles’ tendon

Hue Jackson sticking with DeShone Kizer for Week 12

Report: Josh Rosen especially upset over Jim Mora firing

Michael Irvin goes on bizarre rant about offensive linemen

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

White House social media director takes shot at LaVar Ball

Clay Matthews leaves Week 11 game with groin injury

Jim Mora fired by UCLA

WATCH: Texans celebrate Lamar Miller TD with relay in end zone

Hue Jackson reportedly wants more control in front office

Report: Markelle Fultz out at least another 2-3 weeks

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

NFL Week 11 predictions

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Vikings' unnecessary quarterback conundrum is Mike Zimmer's doing

Time to admit the Blues are good, but can they be great?

Wildcats News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

NFL Week 11 predictions

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker