Arizona searching for answers at running back

Arizona is searching for answers at running back. Read on to see what the Wildcats had to say about losing J.J. Taylor, his replacement, and more.

The news of J.J. Taylor's broken ankle lingered around the Arizona program on Monday afternoon.

Not only is Arizona looking for answers, but there is a feeling of guilt among a few players as well.

“Obviously it’s not very fun," offensive lineman Gerhard de Beer said. "That’s the guy we work to protect. That’s our job to do, so when somebody comes through, that’s on us.

"A big part of me feels responsible. He’s not the biggest dude out there, so even more so for him than the rest of the guys. He’s been doing great in terms of getting into holes and making really big runs, so the least we can do for him is make the plays.” 

What makes it even harder is the fact that Taylor seemed to add a completely new dynamic to Arizona's offense.

"The biggest part is I think J.J. [Taylor] was beginning to show everyone how special he is," Rich Rodriguez said. "This young man is special. So are the rest of our guys, but J.J. is a special talent and very tough individual.

"More than anything, you just feel bad for him. He will be back at 100%, and be even better, but right now it stings.”

Arizona lists Nick Wilson as the starter with Zach Green and Tyrell Johnson as the backups. The sudden lack of depth at the position means that the Wildcats can't run some of the offense they originally wanted to.

"We had some plans for some two back sets, in fact we had a lot of plans for our two tailback sets, and when that position gets hit, those plans have changed somewhat," Rodriguez said.

"That is probably the biggest difference in the progress of our offense. You don't want it hitting the same position, that is where you take the bigger it, but it happens."

Nick Wilson is expected back this week, but there has to be some concern about his ability to get major carries moving forward. In fact, Arizona is at the point where playing a walk-on at running back is not out of the question.

"Branden Leon is one that has done a great job, and I think is ready to play some," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, that position has gotten hit a little bit. The problem with that is our progress gets stemmed offensively.

"J.J. [Taylor] is a sharp guy, and every week we were going to do more and more with him, but now we have to go back to step one a little. We will adjust. Those things happen in the game, and we will have eleven when we go out there.”

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