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UCLA Football Arizona Wildcats Preview: Will Scooby Wright Play?

Arizona needs Scooby Wright to play because they need someone in their front six who is capable of stopping the run.

DaVonte' Neal is currently the top tackler for the Arizona defense.
DaVonte' Neal is currently the top tackler for the Arizona defense.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

It's a mystery even Scooby Doo wouldn't have been able to solve. It's the most-asked question Bruin fans are trying to answer prior to Saturday's game outside of any Myles Jack-related question. Will Scooby Wright play on Saturday against UCLA?

In light of our own injuries on defense, the natural follow-up would be, "Does it matter?"

In Arizona's case, it certainly seems to.

SBN sister site Arizona Desert Swarm wrote earlier this week that "an 80% Scooby Wright would be a significant improvement [to Tre Tyler and Antonio Smothers]." Wow. If Arizona really has that much drop off from the starting middle linebacker to their second string middle linebacker, I'd be tempted to start an 80% Scooby Wright, too, if I were Rich Rodriguez.

But, if he's not really healthy enough to play and he does, the Wildcats could really lose him for a lot longer.

Overall, the Wildcat defense plays a 3-3-5 defense. That's 3 defensive linemen, 3 linebackers and 5 defensive backs. That's the same defensive alignment we saw last week against BYU.

It would seem, based on last week's experience, that there is one way to beat a 3-3-5 defense and his name is Paul Perkins.

Let's take a look at the various position groups on the Arizona defense.

Defensive Line

The defensive line looks to be a vulnerable spot for Arizona. Their starting defensive lineup have only 1 tackle-for-loss between the three of them after three non-conference games. That would seem to set up Paul Perkins for another big game if UCLA's offensive line gets a good push off the ball.

Based on the stats so far, that seems to be a fair assumption as the front three of Sani Fuimaono, Reggie Gilbert and Luca Bruno have only combined for about 10% of Arizona's total tackles.


The linebackers haven't fared much better. The starting linebackers only have a few more tackles than the linemen.

If only 10% of tackles are coming from the starting front three and a few more are coming from the starting linebackers, than the bulk of the tackles are being made by the secondary. And, in fact, that's the case as seven of the top nine tacklers on the team are defensive backs. At least that's been the case so far this season with Wright missing making one tackle in the game he did play in before missing the next two games.

The starters look to be Derrick Turituri at SLB, Tre Tyler at Middle LB and DeAndre Miller on the weakside.

Defensive Backs

These are the guys making the bulk of the stops for Arizona and it appears to be from opponents throwing the ball against Arizona.

It isn't clear whether opposing offenses have been picking on the Wildcat secondary or if opponents are stretching plays into big gains, but when the bulk of the stops are being made by the secondary, it is evidence of a bigger problem with your defense.

DaVonte' Neal, Will Parks and Jamar Allen are the top tacklers for Arizona so far this year. Look for them to make a bunch of stop on Saturday night.

With only 6 guys in the box, it would seem like Perkins and Starks should have another big game, but the Bruins will need Rosen to establish the pass as a viable option to loosen up the Arizona defense. If he can do that, it should open the run game for Perkins and Starks.

We'll see what happens tomorrow night in Tucson.

Go Bruins!!!