What we learned: Linebackers

Arizona's linebackers have their strengths and weaknesses. Read on to see what we learned about the unit, who will make an impact, and more.

What kind of depth is there?

Again, it really depends on which players step up and make an impact. There are plenty of numbers and one paper, that means that there is depth. However, if those players are unable to perform, those numbers are meaningless. Jeff Casteel has said that he would ideally like to have six linebacker that can play because the amount of snaps the starters got last season was not ideal. As of now, we count three or four that we would be confident could contribute. If a guy like Jake Matthews or Ryan Dunn can contribute, that makes the depth much better.

How has Antonio Smothers adjusted?

We did not hear a lot about him during the spring, which probably is not a great sign. We did hear that he started to pick things up towards the end of the spring, but there is no denying that he struggled at the start. It is usually difficult for a junior college player to adjust to the speed of Arizona's practices, so we are going to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, he does need to make major strides if he is going to consistently play at the next level.

Who has made the biggest jump?

If DeAndre Miller does not make an impact this season, I would be really surprised. He was not a bad player last year, but Arizona just trusted the other guys a bit more. Miller is naturally talented and the word is that he has really picked things up since last season. Casteel has spoken highly of him and at times he looks like he has improved a lot. Of course, Miller needs to show it on the field, but the early returns are positive and we would not be surprised if he shows major improvement.

Will a freshman contribute?

Not only will a freshman contribute, but we still think Jamardre Cobb gets the third linebacker spot. Cobb is a complete stud and we are not exaggerating when we say we believe he is one of the best prospects in the west. Physically, Cobb is ready to come in and play right away and even though he has to learn the playbook, Cobb is such a natural talent that it pays to put him in the game and tell him to go hit people.

Can Arizona replace Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers?

We feel comfortable in saying that Scooby Wright can replace Fischer with not only his skills, but his leadership as well. Wright consistently said that he was working on being more vocal and he is a good enough player to be just fine at that. Flowers may be a little more difficult because of his athleticism and we aren't sure there is a backer right now that can match what he did last season. Yes, he got criticized plenty, but it is difficult to deny that Flowers has talent. If Cobb comes in and is as talented as we think he is, it will not be a problem. If not, then it is an issue to keep an eye on.

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