TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona Wildcats sputtered and splattered through a wet Thursday night, eventually beating UTSA 42-32 but perhaps losing more than they gained.
Tucson's rainy day, dull and gray, ended in a flood of bad news. It ended with visions of linebacker Scooby Wright hopping on one leg, taking himself off the field, having trainers wrap his left knee in ice, returning to the sideline in the second half in street clothes, a crutch under one arm, being taken for an MRI exam …
And, then … well, then we wait for more news.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said he doesn't think the injury is "a bad ACL, MCL or whatever" and that he hated to speculate further. But it's seems pretty dang clear that Scooby -- picked this week by Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com as the best college football player in America -- isn't exactly going to be leaping back into game action when the Cats play at Nevada next week.
Wright's father, Phillip Wright, texted TucsonNewsNow.com before the MRI exam and said the injury is "not major," but that description still leaves a lot of room for interpretation as to Scooby's status, so we'll just have to leave it at that for now.
This was not the start to the season that 22nd-ranked Arizona wanted, needed, expected.
"I'd rather learn from a win than suffer from a loss," Rodriguez said in what he managed to make a fairly chipper postgame press conference, despite his team's mounting injury concerns and the glaring 525 yards allowed to UTSA.
If not for Arizona's two defensive touchdowns -- an interception return by Anthony Lopez and a fumble return by Jamar Allah -- and UTSA's special teams miscues -- a missed 33-yard field goal attempt, a blocked 44-yard try and an errant extra-point attempt -- RichRod might very well by suffering with a loss right now.
The Roadrunners, it should be noted, returned only two starters on offense from last season's 4-8 team and sent out a freshman quarterback to take on Scooby's crew.
But against just the crew and no Scooby, the Roadrunners made 29 first downs and ran 95 plays.
"They made some nice plays and did some things to us," Rodriguez said. "We have a lot work to do, but we won."
A shaky opener, an uneven performance ... these things happen.
If that's all Thursday night's performance was, then it would be easier to simply shrug, exhale and turn the page to the second chapter of the season.
But with Scooby ailing, everyone is holding their breath. The question is, "Did Arizona escape disaster against UTSA or merely delay it?"
That Two-Star Scoob is irreplaceable goes without saying. He had the most decorated season in school history as a sophomore last season. Won about every award he could win. And wouldn't you know? His would-be replacement, Cody Ippolito, suffered a torn ACL in practice last week.
Oh, so, that's how it's going to be this season?
Ippolito, center Carter Wood and tight end Trevor Wood are out for the season with injuries.
Receivers Trey Griffey and Tyrell Johnson missed the game because of foot injuries, and we hear that their absences could extend past the Pac-12 opener against UCLA on Sept. 26.
Mammoth left tackle Freddie Tagaloa didn't make his highly anticipated Arizona debut on Thursday night because of an undisclosed injury that emerged in the past couple of days.
Wright, cornerback Cam Denson and cornerback Sammy Morrison were injured at various points in Thursday night's game.
Wide receiver Samajie Grant, safety Tellas Jones and defensive tackle Anthony Fotu didn't even suit up; they were suspended for the opener for what was described as a violation of team rules.
"I'm getting depressed," Rodriguez said after running through the list of guys who weren't playing.
So much for this depth-challenged team avoiding injuries during a season that doesn't have a bye week. There probably will be a media rush to feature linebacker Haden Gregory this week. The senior walked on from Long Beach City College in 2013. He's the new Scooby as long as Scooby is the Scooby with the bum left knee.
The Cats had plenty of leftover dreams after their 2014 season that included a Pac-12 South title and a Fiesta Bowl appearance. The program is in better shape than it has ever been. Facilities, coaching, consistent schemes, clever recruiting ... it's all in place for sustained success.
But sometimes bad things happen to good programs.
That might be what we saw Thursday night.
For Arizona's sake, here's hoping Wright's 2015 season doesn't end with just one tackle -- 162 less than last year.