Bolstering the Defense: Key Positions Arizona Football must address

Nov 18, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Utah Utes running back Ja'Quinden Jackson (3) is tackled by
Nov 18, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Utah Utes running back Ja'Quinden Jackson (3) is tackled by / Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

With Spring Football underway, we take a look at a few key positions that Arizona Football needs to address, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

As Spring Football continues across the country, there are critical areas that every team needs to address, and for Arizona Football, that is no different as the Wildcats have a few positions they need to address this Spring and ahead of the 2024 season.

Despite the Wildcats' successes last season, Arizona has a few specific positions they need to give attention to if they are to contend effectively in the Big 12 Conference. Among the top priorities are defensive end depth, cornerback depth, and linebacker depth. Let's delve into why addressing these areas is paramount to fortifying the defense.

Defensive End Depth:

A cornerstone position in any successful defense, Arizona's defensive success this year hinges on generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks and disrupting the backfield. However, depth at this position is currently a concern for the Wildcats.

Last year, Arizona was blessed with a talented group that included Taylor Upshaw, Russell Davis II, and Isaiah Ward among others. Well, Upshaw is graduating, and Davis and Ward are now at Washington. As it stands, all who return are Ta'ita'i Uiagalelei and Dominic Lolesio.

Beyond them, Arizona added San Jose State transfer Tre Smith and JUCO transfer Cyrus Durham. Overall, the depth is not quite there, and with a reported 14 open scholarships, adding another player or two here makes sense.

Cornerback Depth:

In today's pass-heavy game, cornerback depth is invaluable. Arizona was blessed with a strong cornerback rotation that was effective against both the run and the pass. But with Ephesians Prysock now at Washington, the depth is not quite there for the Wildcats.

Luckily, Tacario Davis appears to be returning, but opposite of him, Arizona needs another playmaker. Granted, they did add JUCO transfer Johno Price and Louisville transfer Marquis Groves-Killebrew; however, to build a robust rotation, adding at least one corner opposite to Tacario is needed.

We have seen over the years what can happen to Arizona's defense should the secondary struggle, and hopefully, this is an area that head coach Brent Brennan and Co. addresses quickly before the start of the 2024 season.

Linebacker Depth:

A position that doesn't need as much attention as say the defensive line or cornerback spots; however, this is a position that could still use a little bit of addressing in my opinion.

Coming in, the Wildcats return Jacob Manu, Justin Flowe, and Taye Brown, but outside of that, it is largely a group of unproven youngsters. Granted, things could change quickly if a player or two happens to step up in the Spring; however, I think for the Wildcats' sake in building out depth and having a group that is solid in both run and pass defense, adding a player or two is needed.

Developing depth at linebacker will enhance the team's overall defensive capabilities and provide stability in the heart of the defense.

Ultimately, Arizona has a long way to go until the start of the 2024 season; however, addressing depth needs at the defensive end, cornerback, and linebacker is imperative for the Wildcats overall success next season. Arizona has the potential to make significant strides on the defensive side of the ball and if they do that, we could be in store for another special season.

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