TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 05: Runningback Taimi Tutogi #31 of the Arizona Wildcats dives over the pile for a first down against the Utah Utes during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The Utes defeated the Wildcats 34-21. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Now, we're learning that it's not even about this football team's lack of experience or talent. In a way, those problems are deep enough where there's a lack of actual bodies that head coach Rich Rodriguez finds comfortable in using.
How bad is it? Taimi Tutogi, Greg Nwoko and Keoni Bush-Loo have extended their duties to include both offense and defense, the latter of which got torn to shreds in the team's scrimmage this weekend, according to Anthony Gimino.
His Wildcats have to earn their place on the field.
Tutogi is expected to play H-back, but now could spend some time at defensive end. Nwoko could be a valuable third-down back, but he has been working at linebacker. Bush-Loo, a freshman tight end, has played both linebacker and end for Rodriguez, reports Ryan Finley.
Of course, Rodriguez is playing it safe with some Wildcats. The return of corner Jonathan McKnight, who is slowly recovering from last year's ACL injury, and linebacker Rob Hankins from a concussion will help a tad.
Injuries are bound to occur during the season, however. The conditioning of Arizona's players becomes huge for the sake of avoiding as many of those injuries as possible, but now in making these two-way players capable of going 100 percent on snaps on both sides of the ball.
If you're looking for any sort of positive out of this, do realize that some true freshmen will get some experience this season. Inevitably, Rodriguez won't be able to keep his youngsters on the sidelines, no matter how wary he is of throwing players into the fold who aren't yet ready.
But having Tutogi and Nwoko see extended time on defense might be to prove a point. This Arizona team might be resigned to struggling this season; it's not going to come by way of throwing bad football players onto the field ("football players" meaning the general cliche used by coaches, guys who exemplify a toughness and a work ethic).
RichRod is thereby sending a message.
If you play hard, run 120 miles per hour on every snap and make plays, you're going to be stealing snaps. Attitude is in a way more important than the results, hence the trust he's putting in the veterans like Tutogi and Nwoko.
It's all about earning it.