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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats defense plays well early, sloppy late in win over Hawaii

Alex McIntyre
Arizona linebacker DeAndre’ Miller (32) dives to tackle Hawai’i quarterback Dru Brown (19) against Hawai’i at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. The Wildcats won the game 47-28.

The Arizona Wildcats football team looked stout on defense. Saturday night’s Wildcats showed what many fans had hoped to see with new defensive coordinator Marcel Yates at the helm. 

The defense forced Hawaii into a series of bad throws, sacks and a batted ball by freshman saftey Tristan Cooper that was intercepted by free-saftey Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. 

“I couldn’t get to my coverage so I had to go for it and jumped to bat the ball and we were able to come away with it,” Cooper said.

Arizona is weak on the defensive line thus putting pressure on the defensive backs to hold up in coverage for long amounts of time, a trend that has been apparent so far in the young season. Yates had to mix up blitzes, sending linebackers and defensive backs at Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey in an attempt to keep him off balance.

To increase the pressure on the wide receivers, the Wildcats gave less cushion playing more bump-and-run style coverage. Arizona got physical with them as soon as the ball was snapped, forcing the Hawaii receivers to slow and adjust their routes. In the first half, Arizona was the more physical team and it benefited from the aggressive play.

The Wildcats were also able to shift their coverage allowing the defensive secondary to roam free as well as play one-on-one coverage limiting the Hawaii wideouts to small gains all game long. Senior linebacker Michael Barton was aggressive all night and solid up the middle in his attempts to stuff the run. 

Paul Magloire Jr. was solid along with Barton making up for the loss of redshirt senior Cody Ippolito, who was suspended for the first half of the ball game due to a targeting penalty in the second half of last week’s Grambling State win. 

“We got the win but we need to fix mistakes this week and get ready for Pac-12 [Conference] play,” Magloire said.

Magloire along with Cooper and Barton tied for the team lead in tackles with eight.

The first half play of the defense led to the Wildcats surrendering a season-best seven points. Unfortunately, sloppy play and penalties led to the team sacrificing another 21 for a season high 28 points total. Despite the first half success head coach Rich Rodriguez was not pleased with the second half performance.

“There is no excuse for the penalties, none, zero and I thought we played undisciplined,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t tackle well and we are undersized. We also don’t have much size so we need to use better leverage or every team we play is just going to pound us.”

The Wildcats will have their hands full for the duration of the season, the Pac-12 offenses are not going to be easy to defend. Conference play begins with Washington, a top-10 team who Arizona lost to last year in Seattle by a score of 49-3.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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