It remains to be seen just how Arizona’s defense will play this season, but Rich Rodriguez at least likes the attitude going into fall camp.
“The most encouraging thing I saw from our defense was just the renewed enthusiasm, and there's a lot of young guys out there,” Rodriguez said.
“It sounds like coach speak, but hell, I don't really know how good we're going to be. I just know we weren't really good last year, and we need to get better.”
When last season ended, Rodriguez took a hard look at the defense and felt the overall attitude needed to be rebuilt.
“When I look back and evaluate everything like I always do after the season, it was more like, okay, are the issues we have fixable with what we've got or do I need to look internally, look at myself, and do we need to just start all over again,” he said.
“In my determination it was better just to start all over again, scheme-wise, personnel-wise, recruiting-wise, and that's hard to do because I think it's easy particularly when you have guys that you respect and know they're really, really good coaches. It just wasn't working out.
“So I thought, okay, I'm kind of -- a lot of times of the personality, instead of just putting a Band-Aid on it, let's just go and start all over again. That's what we did.”
The search for the right man to lead that job led Rodriguez to Marcel Yates.
“When I interviewed him, and I interviewed a bunch of guys and talked to them, again, I was looking for more of a personality as opposed to scheme, and also all coaches have a little bit of an ego, and you want them to be comfortable in what they're doing and have confidence in what they're doing, and Marcel did,” Rodriguez said.
“I also said to Marcel, you're going to run some of your stuff, but I'm going to give you some of my stuff or some of our stuff that I want you to implement, and are you willing to do that.
“Some guys wouldn't be willing to do that. Marcel said, yeah, we'll adapt and we'll put our own package together, and we've been doing that.”
What will that package look like?
“I know what we're going to do on defense,” Rodriguez said. “In fact, when I hired a coordinator, which was a little bit unique, I wasn't looking so much for a scheme, because I think schemes are overrated, as much as I was looking for a personality and attitude.
“I kind of set the parameters, this is what I want him to do, but I'm not going to coach it or teach it, I'm going to let my defensive staff to do that.
“I hired Marcel Yates, who scheme-wise was really good, but more than anything I liked his personality, I liked the personality of the defense, and I know what we're going to do. I'm just not going to tell anybody until we have to. I mean, it's not like it's a big secret, but for the first couple teams, they'll have to figure that out.”