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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    D-line has more production on its mind

    The defensive line gets set for the snap during Arizonas Homecoming win over California last season. The Wildcats will mix young talent and 10 returning starters on the defensive side of the ball with hopes to finish better than fourth in the Pac-10, where they placed last season.
    The defensive line gets set for the snap during Arizona’s Homecoming win over California last season. The Wildcats will mix young talent and 10 returning starters on the defensive side of the ball with hopes to finish better than fourth in the Pac-10, where they placed last season.

    Quickness. It might seem like a simple thing to accomplish, yet harnessing it has been the chief goal for the defensive line this summer and throughout fall camp.

    Despite having a decent balance of experience and young energy in the trenches last season, the line struggled at times with separating from blockers and pressuring the opposing quarterback.

    “”(The defensive line) is a very good group that we look for more production out of this year,”” said head coach Mike Stoops. “”When you look statistically we need more big plays. … It gets hard because all (defensive) linemen are never going to be stat leaders, but we still need more pressure and more plays from them.””

    The Wildcats welcome back all four starters from last year’s front – seniors Louis Holmes, Yaniv Barnett and Lionel Dotson, and junior Johnathan

    The bottom line is we just need sacks and the ability to take the team and put them in long-yardage situations.

    -Mark Stoops
    defensive coordinator

    Turner. Despite having a productive year out of the junior-college transfer Holmes – who led the team with four sacks and was named to the All-Pacific 10 Conference second team last year – Arizona brought down the opposing quarterback only 15 times last season, the lowest total in Stoops’ three seasons.

    “”We have been working really hard on getting up the field and getting to the quarterback,”” said Barnett, who registered 18 tackles last year. “”The one thing that wins games is pass rush and getting the quarterback, so we are working hard to improve as much as we can.””

    One thing that would remedy the Wildcats’ struggles, Barnett said, is a significant increase in speed and quickness from the interior line.

    During fall camp, the defensive line saw nothing but Arizona’s new spread offense, which features mostly three-step drops as the quarterback delivers the ball quickly to timed routes.

    “”You have three steps, how long is that? Two seconds, if that,”” Barnett said. “”So every day in practice we have that quick mentality of getting straight to the quarterback because the ball is gone within a couple seconds.””

    And even with every starter returning to virtually the same defensive scheme, Dotson said there was one major difference between this year’s front and last year’s.

    “”We are just more hungry this year,”” he said. “”It is nice to have everyone back again. We have the same chemistry going on, and we know what we are going to do. We are already very physical and talented, we just need to get that pass rush down.””

    The Wildcats will rely on a cluster of younger linemen to rotate in consistently, resting starters and giving the front a new look.

    Players like sophomore tackle Donald Horton and redshirt freshman Lolamana Mikaele should see a decent amount of time in the interior, while redshirt freshmen D’Aundre Reed and Ricky Elmore are expected to make appearances at defensive end.

    “”I have been impressed with our defensive line, and I feel like we have some pretty good depth,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”The bottom line is we just need sacks and the ability to take the team and put them in long-yardage situations.

    “”The guys have been working pretty hard, and they will be tested Saturday.””

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