September 08, 2015

Considering last season and its opening game of this one, Arizona is accustomed to playing in tight contests by now.

The No. 22 Wildcats, though, won't have all-everything linebacker Scooby Wright III for their next potential one, Saturday night's road matchup with a Nevada team that was competitive against them in 2014.

Arizona played in a game decided by 10 or fewer points for the 10th time in 14 contests Sept. 3, a 42-32 win over UTSA. The Wildcats also lost Wright, a unanimous All-American and winner of three national awards in 2014, to an injured left knee in the first half.

He is slated to miss three to four weeks following arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage.

"Scooby's thing, fortunately, is something that he got fixed and actually I think he's going to come back even stronger than he was before," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "And knowing Scooby, he will be chomping at the bit, but we will make sure, and trainers will make sure, that when he is coming back, he's coming back 100 percent ready to go."

Haden Gregory, a senior who has appeared in seven games, will try to fill Wright's sizable shoes when the Wildcats face a Nevada team they beat 35-28 in Tucson on Sept. 13.

Gregory had four tackles and two pass breakups last week.

"(Gregory is) a big kid and he's pretty athletic,'' Rodriguez said. "It's hard to compare a guy to Scooby because Scooby is one of the best defensive players in the country, but I thought Haden came in and made some plays, was pretty active. It was his first extended action there, so I think he will get better from that, and he's going to have to."

Wright had 14 of his 163 tackles last season against Nevada but didn't record any of his 14 sacks. The Wolf Pack gained 429 yards - 321 through the air - and tied the game at 21-all in the third quarter.

Arizona gained 507 yards, with Solomon completing 22 of 26 and throwing three touchdowns while Nick Wilson ran for 171 yards and two scores.

The third of Solomon's four TDs against UTSA helped the Wildcats begin pulling away after leading by one at halftime, and Jamar Allah followed with his team's second defensive touchdown.

Arizona went 4-1 on the road last season, beating two Top 25 teams, including then-No. 2 Oregon on Oct. 2.

The Wildcats make their first visit to Reno since 1924 and are 3-1-1 in the series. They beat Nevada 49-48 in the 2012 New Mexico Bowl by scoring two TDs in the final 46 seconds.

"We know their staff really well, in fact we partnered with them in some satellite summer camps this summer. We have a lot of similar philosophies and their kids play extremely hard," Rodriguez said. "We've had a few tough games with them, last year and a few years ago in the bowl game so we have a lot of respect for them."

The Wolf Pack ran for 232 yards in last week's opener, a 31-17 win over UC Davis. Don Jackson had 124 yards on 13 carries and the game's first two TDs.

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