Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Arizona Wildcats (Part 2: Defense)


The Arizona Wildcats will need much improvement of the defensive side of the ball if they want to be successful in 2012. Last season, the Arizona defense gave up at least 34 points in all their eight losses which includes a 58-31 loss at home against the Oregon Ducks. The Wildcats also gave up 37 points in their eight point win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Two of the biggest losses going into this season for the Wildcats will be Derek Earls and Trevin Wade.

Derek Earls departed from the Arizona Wildcats due to graduation after the 2011 season. Last season, Earls was the main leader on the stats sheet for Arizona. He dominated the stat sheet with 74 total tackles (team leader) and seven tackles for loss (team leader). The biggest aspect of Earls’ game that will be missed by Arizona this season will be his ability to make the tackle in the backfield. He was one of the senior leader of the linebacker core and it is always a huge loss to a team when they lose any type of stats leader like Earls.

Another key loss on defense will be pass defender, Trevin Wade, who departed from the team this spring after his graduation from the university. During his senior year, Wade led the team in broken up passes with thirteen total. Wade was a leader of the Wildcat secondary and his lost will be a major dent. He also had two interception, but did not gain any yards on them.

However, Arizona does have some pieces in place to improve the defense in 2012. One of these pieces comes at the safety position in the form of Tra’Mayne Bondurant. Bondurant enters the 2012 season as a sophomore. In his freshman year, Bondurant played in all twelve games, but only started in six of them. Despite only having one interception on the season, he helped out the Arizona Wildcats in a different way on defense by having 3.5 tackles for loss netting 19 yards. Bondurant will need to use his abilities to defend passes as well as making tackles in the backfield if Arizona wants to have more success on defense this upcoming season.

Another sophomore that will need to help the Wildcats on defense is Kirifi Tuala. During his freshman season at Arizona, Tuala played in eight games and started in four games. The one part on the stats sheet that Tuala did well was tackles for loss. Last season, he had four tackles for loss netting a total of thirteen yards. Tuala will need to be a key part of the defensive line if Arizona’s defense wants to have a better season in 2012.

Here are some of the top scoring offenses Arizona will face this year:

  • Week 2 – Oklahoma State Cowboys – 48.7 points per game in 2011.
  • Week 4 – Oregon Ducks – 46.1 points per game in 2011.
  • Week 6 – Stanford Cardinals – 43.2 points per game in 2011.
  • Week 12 – Arizona State Sun Devils – 33.2 points per game in 2011.

For more stories on Arizona, check out Zona Zealots.

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