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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football notes: Oregon will test defensive end, Autzen will test team’s bravery

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Colin Prenger / Arizona Daily Wildcat

It’s no secret that Arizona doesn’t have much of a pass rush.

So far the defensive line has produced just 18 percent of the team’s tackles – 38 total tackles over three games.

The two outside lineman in particular have struggled at producing pressure on the quarterback.

Only nose tackle Sione Tuihalamaka has even a half sack on the season while end Dominique Austin and tackle Reggie Gilbert combine for just 1.5 tackles for a loss.

Still, Rodriguez said he feels his defensive end has done OK this season.

“I don’t want to say [he’s] a surprise, but Austin has had a good year for us.” Rodriguez said. “It’s been solid, [Oregon] will be their biggest test.”

Another player Rodriguez cited for his performance was part-time fullback, part-time defensive end Taimi Tutogi.

Tutogi has given the team a lift when he’s been in, Rodriguez said, and even with sophomore end Dan Pettinato back from injury, Tutogi will continue getting snaps.

“We have got to get more guys to play on defense,” Rodriguez said.

“So probably [Tutogi] will play more defense.”

Another lineman who seeing his playing time increase is senior Willie Mobley.

“He’s really climbed the depth chart,” Rodriguez said about Mobley. “He’s a guy we weren’t sure was in the mix [in fall camp], now he’s in the rotation. Like a lot of the other seniors, I think he realizes this is his last shot. I’ve been really proud with the way he’s come on in the last couple of weeks.”

Mobley has five total tackles this season and recorded one tackle for a loss in his three appearances this season.

“He was producing in practice so he got a chance to move up [the depth chart], and he’s making the most of it,” Rodriguez said. “He’s played well in the games.

Adjusting for Autzen

Autzen Stadium is regarded as one of the most intimidating and feared venues in all of college football and will be a real test for the Wildcats first road game.

“It’s a crazy environment,” senior Chris Merrill said. “It’s probably one of the coolest places that we’ve played in. The crowd really gets into it.”

Rodriguez has some concerns about communication between the offense because it’s still a new system. It’s still just 11-on-11 though, he added.

One way Arizona tried to prepare is by blasting the sound systems that surround the practice fields.

“We do the speakers, try to put them in stressful situations in practice,” Rodriguez said, “and then remind them to keep their poise when they go up there.”

Covering De’Anthony Thomas

The Ducks might have the Vegas spread firmly on its side, but another staple of Sin City is betting on Arizona — Lady Luck.

Oregon’s star running back De’Anthony Thomas graced the cover of Sports Illustrated for this week, bringing with him the fabled cover curse.

Rodriguez said he hasn’t yet seen the cover, but that the sophomore speedster is well deserving of the honor.

“[Thomas is] fast, very fast,” Rodriguez said. “But he’s also a tough guy, he has great ball skills. He’s a guy everyone would want in their program.”

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