We know the Arizona football team has a boatload of question marks. We know that losing an entire offensive line won't help a good quarterback with a battalion of a wide-receiving core. What we do know that aided in hurting Arizona, however, comes in the form of simple mental disadvantages that begin and end with the five-game losing skid to end last season.
How does a team overcome the mental hangover of that? The losing came at the same time as a defense that was previously stellar slipped into cruise-control, failing to exhibit a big-play mentality, or really, or any mentality that hinted at having a sense of urgency at all.
Of course, making things even harder on the defensive line's front is the loss of head coach Mike Tuiasosopo. His replacement is Joe Salave'a, an ex-Wildcat who played for and most recently coached for former Arizona head coach Dick Tomey.
"It's a very similar team that we've had. We've lost three great defensive ends and the two reads in Ricky Elmore," Stoops told the media at Pac-12 Media Day.
"That's where we took the greatest hit is our great edge pressure from a year ago. But I think the strength of our team will be the back seven with our two linebackers are back, and certainly a very talented group of corners and secondary players will be the strength of on our team."
And in looking to get the defense back to the state of what this very website is named after, Stoops went out of his way to name Salave'a as the key to returning to the glory days of Arizona's defensive stronghold.
Per ASAP Sports:
Q. Coach, you're a guy that played in the Desert Swarm days. How important is it for you guys -- how close do you want to get back to that Desert Swarm mentality of play.
COACH STOOPS: Joe's a great player at Arizona. Just a great person. He's been a great addition to our staff. Our players love him. You know, he brings credibility back in a big way. I think our players have really related well to that. And Joe's a very intense, passionate. He coaches the same way he played, and that is the thing I love about him. He's been a great fit for what we're doing.
Much of what Salave'a can do depends on his talent. Who's to replace Elmore and the two Reeds? Can Adam Hall return healthy enough to make an impact? Will the cornerbacks get picked on on deep routes game after game?
Again, the questions mount. But what we do know is that, picked No. 4 in the South Division, Arizona can once again use the slight as motivation to rid themselves of last season's crash and burn.