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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


5 questions for the ua defense

Arizona’s defense has its fair share of proven veterans. But for every established Wildcat, there’s a young and inexperienced player still yet to earn his stripes.

Between Robert Golden, Trevin Wade, Paul Vassallo, Derek Earls, Justin Washington and Sione Tuihalamaka, the Wildcats do have a handful of established defensive players to run out there on Saturdays.

Then add in proven commodities like Jake Fischer and Adam Hall when they return from ACL injuries, and Arizona will feature even more trusted players. But questions still remain for the UA defense:

1. Will Wade return to form?

Trevin Wade was a shell of his former self in 2010. After finishing 32nd in the NCAA in interceptions in 2009, Wade picked off only one ball last season. He also finished with 24 fewer tackles and nine fewer pass break-ups. Wade says he’s re-energized and focused after a nightmare of a season and it’s showed training camp. Wade picked off two balls at the Meet the Team scrimmage and appears to be back on track, but now must prove it in a regular season game.

2. Can things click for Flowers?

Marquis Flowers was expected to do big things in 2010 but fell short of massive expectations by making his only mark on special teams. But players and coaches have said one year of maturity has gone a long way for Flowers and he’s poised for a big sophomore season. However, he’s yet to start a game as a Wildcat. He’s impressed at training camp, but can Flowers maximize his potential and become a mainstay as UA’s starting strong safety?

3. Will Shaq mature and produce?

With Jonathan McKnight out for the season, the Wildcats will lean heavily on sophomore Shaquille Richardson. He made a huge splash last season, picking off two balls in his first Arizona start before finishing the year with 29 tackles and seven pass break ups. But Richardson had a sub-par training camp. Secondary coach Ryan Walters said Richardson has the talent to produce, but he needs to mature and pay closer attention to detail.

*4. Can Hankins/Lopez/Grandon overcome youth? *

With Fischer out, UA will lean on first-year Wildcat linebackers Rob Hankins and David Lopez, as well as redshirt freshman nickelback Jourdon Grandon. Hankins is fresh out of high school, Lopez was a late summer addition who was originally committed to Portland State, and Grandon has yet to play a collegiate football game. This trio has plenty of veterans around them, but it’s up to them to fill in the cracks.

5. Will Usman and Parish mimic Reed and Elmore?

Replacing Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore is a tough task, but CJ Parish and Mohammed Usman are expected to do exactly that. Coaches rave about the energetic duo, but despite their senior status, they’re still unproven. It’s going to be tough to match Reed and Elmore’s production, but all they need to do is bring pressure and produce. Will they?

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