Last season, the loss of Jake Fischer arguably had more effect on the team than any other injury. While there were two other senior linebackers on the roster in place to make up for the loss of Fischer, not having him on the field proved to be a very tough loss for the defense to overcome. Fischer was the most athletic of the three and UA struggled all year getting consistent production out of the entire defense, partly due to his absence.
2012 is a new year for Fischer and he looks to be acclimating well to new defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's system. Nothing is for certain until Fischer shows he can play at a high level when the games matter, but if the offseason has been any indication on what to expect from the linebacker, Fischer could be in for a big year.
Noticeably more built in the upper body, Fischer used his rehab time effectively and looks to be more fit to play the middle of the field. Casteel, head coach Rich Rodriguez and the rest of the coaching staff have done an admirable job with Fischer, as he has been able to add muscle while regaining the speed and quickness he possessed two seasons ago.
Fischer has also taken on the role of a defensive leader in the offseason. Now one of the elder statesmen on the squad, Fischer has the respect of his teammates and it appears the coaching staff as well.
Casteel's defense is tailored for Fischer's skill-set. He may be compact, but the linebacker's ability to move sideline-to-sideline gives the Wildcats the ideal player to roam the middle of the field. Fischer also showed he was a solid tackler in the past and if he continues to thrive in that area, he will likely turn out to be a perfect fit at inside linebacker.
Fischer's starting position is etched in stone and will not be challenged by anyone. He is the most experienced player at the position on the roster and even though he is coming off a serious injury, Fischer is going to be counted on to lead a very inexperienced group of linebackers.
If he can continue to assume the leadership role during the regular season, it will be big for the Arizona defense. The loss of Adam Hall was a big blow to the veteran presence on the roster, but Fischer appears to embrace the increased responsibilities.
As far as on the field production, Fischer should be one of the biggest contributors. In a new scheme that can elevate his game, Fischer could have a break out season. If that happens, UA's defense could prove to be better than expected as a unit.
Player profile: Jake Fischer
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