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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    LBs geared up to prove they have the ‘juice’

    Sophomore linebacker Ronnie Palmer celebrates during Arizonas loss to Oregon in October. Finally united with junior outside linebackers Spencer Larsen and Dane Krogstad after the starting trio failed to play a single snap together last season, these Wildcats hope to stay healthy and bring the juice this season.
    Sophomore linebacker Ronnie Palmer celebrates during Arizona’s loss to Oregon in October. Finally united with junior outside linebackers Spencer Larsen and Dane Krogstad after the starting trio failed to play a single snap together last season, these Wildcats hope to stay healthy and bring the ‘juice’ this season.

    Last season was supposed to be their big year together.

    But last season, they lost a combined 14 games to injury.

    Last season, they never saw the field as a collective unit.

    So it comes as no surprise that all anyone wants to talk about is the time they’ve never spent together on the field. But ask them, and they’ll tell you straight to your face: It really doesn’t make that much of a difference.

    Yes, the core of the 2006 version of the Arizona Wildcats’ linebacker corps – starters Spencer Larsen, Ronnie Palmer and Dane Krogstad – didn’t see the field together at all last season due to various injuries; Krogstad missed nearly half of 2005 with knee and shoulder injuries, Palmer was sidelined for the first five games with a broken foot, and Larsen lost time due to a knee injury and a sore hamstring.

    So perhaps it was fitting that Palmer sat out the first scrimmage of the fall, with – yes – an injury, but all three will tell you one thing.

    “”We’ve heard that a bunch of times,”” said the redshirt junior Krogstad, who patrols the strong side. “”But it’s not really a huge difference.””

    “”You have to have game experience, and that will come,”” added Larsen, a junior who plays opposite Krogstad on the weak side, “”but it won’t make too much of a difference.””

    And Palmer?

    “”We talked all the time anyways,”” said the redshirt sophomore, who plays up the middle. “”When one of us wasn’t playing, we were always coaching each other, so it’s not going to be anything too different.””

    How can it be that this group that never saw the field together in 2005 – a group that still accounted for 127 tackles – sees no difference in playing together?

    Well, it’s simple – at least according to the trio’s position coach, Tim Kish.

    “”We’ve got guys that the game’s important to them,”” he said.

    But that’s not all it takes to be a linebacker at Arizona.

    “”Coach Kish would say you have to have ‘juice,'”” said a laughing Krogstad. “”Whatever ‘juice’ is is still up for debate, but you just have to have a passion for (the game), work hard, and have as much fun as you can.””

    Come again – “”juice?””

    “”Yeah, coach Kish, man,”” said Larsen with a laugh accompanying his ever-present smile. “”Coach Kish has this thing about the ‘juice.'””

    Not the kind of juice that you drink with your toast or the kind that’s deteriorating baseball and cycling these days. The other juice.

    “”It basically translates to ‘excitement’ and ‘enthusiasm’ and passion for what you’re doing,”” Larsen said. “”You gotta have ‘juice’ as a linebacker.””

    Said Kish: “”If you don’t have that, you might as well not even be out there on the field.””

    But wait, there’s more.

    “”You have to be nasty, you have to be big and strong, you have to be able to play the pass and the run, you have to be a D lineman, you have to be a defensive back,”” Larsen said. “”But more than anything, you just have to be flexible and learn week to week.””

    Added Palmer: “”If someone’s wrong on the line, you’ve got to make them right. Basically, you’re the quarterback of the defense.””

    But even with their ability – and their “”juice”” – questions persist as to how the three will gel in a game situation.

    “”To be back with Dane and Spence, like we used to be at the beginning of last year, we’re just waiting right now,”” Palmer said.

    “”We definitely learned from it,”” he said later about the injuries that took a toll on the trio. “”We always had to make adjustments because of it, but now we’re used to all that.””

    And with that experience now behind them, Krogstad will be the first to tell you that the group’s expectations are set high.

    “”I think our linebackers – I know we’ve said it for the past few years – but, hopefully, we want to be the strength of the defense,”” he said.

    Still, they’ll tell you that their main goal is a little more focused.

    “”Hopefully,”” Larsen said, “”we can bring that ‘juice.'””

    Specialists:

    No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
    13 Bondzio, Jason PK 5-9 168 RSo. Humble, Texas
    47 Crier, Keenyn P 6-1 180 Fr. Spring, Texas
    12 Folk, Nick PK 6-1 215 RSr. Sherman Oaks, California
    65 McHone, Garon LS 6-4 270 RSr. Suisun, California
    27 McQuown, Kyle P 5-9 170 RJr. Tucson, Arizona
    60 Wolder, Ricky LS 5-10 220 RFr. Irvine, California

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