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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Burfict the perfect linebacker

Linebackers need a mean streak. They should be angry and aggressive.

“You look at Ray Lewis, he’s kind of got a mean streak,” said Arizona quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo. “If you look at the great linebackers over time, I think that’s a trait that those guys possess.”

ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict is one of those guys. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound linebacker is one of the most feared defensive players in college football.

“He’s a real physical player,” said quarterback Nick Foles. “He’s a tough guy. He goes out there and flies around. He’s really aggressive, he’s probably one of the most aggressive players there is in the country.”

Burfict is the first big-time defensive player the Wildcats have had to key on this season.

“You see him run through a gap that’s probably not his gap, but he’s in the backfield making a play,” Scelfo said. “I think he’s an instinctive player. I know there’s some times when you say, ‘What made him do that? Where did that come from?’”

Although he’s dangerous every snap, Burfict’s production has tailed off since the beginning of the season. He racked up four sacks through the first two games, and has had only one since then.

But regardless of his lack of playmaking as of late, the Corona, Calif., native is still the leader of an impressive ASU defense that gives up 23.8 points per game.

“He brings a lot of emotion and intensity to that defense,” said linebacker Paul Vassallo. “I definitely think they look to him to be that emotional leader on that side of the ball.”

If Arizona doesn’t keep tabs on Burfict, it could be a long night.

“He’s at the perfect position for what he does, and you’ve got to account for him when you’re game-planning stuff,” Scelfo said. “He’s not a guy you say, ‘OK, you block the MIKE (linebacker) and then we go on.’

“We’ve got to say, ‘Do we have a good angle on him? Do we have the right guy blocking him?’ Things like that.”

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