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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hard-hitting Patrick following in Brooks’ footsteps

    Brigham Young wide receiver Michael Reed cant outrun the grasp of junior safety Dominic Patrick after his 20-yard catch and run in the first quarter of Saturdays16-13 win over BYU at Arizona Stadium. The hard-hitting Patrick made his presence felt with six tackles in his first game at the position formerly manned by the departed Darrell Brooks.
    Brigham Young wide receiver Michael Reed can’t outrun the grasp of junior safety Dominic Patrick after his 20-yard catch and run in the first quarter of Saturday’s16-13 win over BYU at Arizona Stadium. The hard-hitting Patrick made his presence felt with six tackles in his first game at the position formerly manned by the departed Darrell Brooks.

    For all the accolades heaped on the Arizona football team’s secondary this offseason, one question lingered: Who would step up in the absence of Darrell Brooks?

    The free safety had served as the image of the program off the field and one of its most ferocious competitors on it, leaving the issue of whether any of the candidates slated to replace him could come in and do everything the job entailed.

    Dominic Patrick helped silence those doubts Saturday during the Wildcats’ win over Brigham Young.

    The junior had a career-high six tackles, but more importantly, he provided many of the types of big hits the Arizona defense is pledging to showcase this season.

    “”Before the end of the season, I want to be known as the best hitter all-around,”” Patrick said. “”It’s not my intention to go out and just get big hits – I mean, I want to make plays – but when the hits come, they come.””

    Patrick’s good patience is no accident.

    With Brooks busy leading the secondary, Patrick waited in the background, watching his teammates and nursing injuries.

    Finally, his ability to put himself near the ball – and jar it loose whenever possible – gave him the edge over sophomore Brandon Tatum and junior college transfer Nate Ness in the heated battle to replace Brooks during fall camp.

    Yet throughout the offseason, Patrick said his priorities didn’t include trying to beat out anyone.

    Instead, he took the advice Brooks gave him and concentrated on learning the playbook, a decision that paid off with a newfound savvy against the Cougars.

    “”He’s extremely comfortable in what he has to do,”” Brooks said in a phone interview yesterday. “”He’s very confident in his abilities. Right now, he’s just going out and playing ball.””

    Of course, when he gets the opportunity, Patrick likes to go after ball carriers full-bore.

    Already a self-proclaimed fan of hard tackles, he credited the physical attitude that permeated defensive workouts over the summer for his exuberance.

    “”We’ve got a hit-squad mentality,”” Patrick said. “”We like to fly around and hit each other. Our offense is pretty dink and dunk, so we try to pick up the pace in practice. We’re real aggressive. Toughness is what we practiced all summer, all those hot summer workouts at 11, 12 in the afternoon running stadium steps. That pays off during the game.””

    UA head coach Mike Stoops lauded Patrick’s positioning against BYU, adding that he was impressed not only with the instincts he showed, but also his propensity to lift his play when needed.

    “”We knew he was going to be able to come in and be one of the physical threats on our team,”” said junior linebacker Spencer Larsen, who had 12 total tackles, a forced fumble and a sack Saturday. “”He was real sound. He made some physical tackles and did well in the open field. He did great.””

    Said senior strong safety Michael Johnson: “”He proved that our secondary can move on without Darrell Brooks, that someone can step up and make big plays.””

    Patrick is quick to deflect the pressure of taking over for an esteemed alumnus.

    He said that as long as he follows the schemes coaches give him every week and doesn’t repeat mistakes, he’ll be in position to make whatever plays his teammates need from him.

    “”It’s been two years on the sideline,”” he said. “”It feels good to finally get a chance to show what I can do.””

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