At the beginning of the 2012 season, there were not many expectations for the Arizona Wildcats. They finished last year with an overall record of 4-8 and a Pac-12 record of 2-7. They were assumed to be just as bad as they were in 2011.
However, that’s what happens when you assume…you get proven wrong. Arizona currently has an overall record of 3-0 and a very nice win against Oklahoma State on their resume. Rich Rodriguez really has his players buying into what he’s selling during his first year as head coach of the Wildcats.
Here are a few of Rodriguez’s defensive players that the Ducks will need to watch out for on Saturday.
Sept. 8, 2012; Tucson, AZ, USA; A pass intended for Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Tracy Moore (87) is broken up by Arizona Wildcats cornerback Shaquille Richardson (5) and cornerback Jonathan McKnight (6) during the second half at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats beat the Cowboys 59-38. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Tra’Mayne Bondurant (#21, safety)
- Sophomore from Vallejo, California
- 5-foot-10, 207 pounds
At the beginning of the season, the Autzen Zoo came out with Pac-12 Conference Previews for every Pac-12 football team. For Arizona, one player that was key to watch this season was Tra’Mayne Bondurant. Last season as a freshman, he played in twelve games and had a total of 3.5 tackles for loss.
Already this season, Bondurant has just as many tackles for loss as he had last season in 12 games. In the first three games of this season, he has 15 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one broken up pass, and one pass deflection. Only being a sophomore, the Oregon Ducks will need to watch out for Bondurant and how Rich Rodriguez will try to use him on Saturday.
Jake Fisher (#33, linebacker)
- Junior from Oro Valley, Arizona
- 205 pounds
Jake Fisher is back with the Wildcats at full strength after missing the whole 2011 season due to rehab of a knee injury, which happened during the Arizona spring game of 2011 and put a huge dent in the Wildcats season. In 2010, Fisher had 58 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two broken up passes and a fumble recovery in 13 games. He also finished the season as a part of the Academic All-Pac-10 First-Team.
So far in 2012, Fisher has been at full strength as he leads the Wildcats in total tackles. He has recorded 33 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. De’Anthony Thomas will really need to protect the ball better than he did in the game against Tennessee Tech because if he does not, Fisher will make sure Thomas fumbles the football.
Jared Tevis (#38, safety)
- Sophomore from Tucson, Arizona
- 5-foot-10, 197 pounds
At the beginning of the season, it was said that Tevis was a returning special teams starter and had a shot at a safety role. So far in 2012, Tevis might be proving more that he can help the Wildcats’ secondary. He recorded 12 tackles last seaason and was among the best on special teams.
In 2012, He has recorded 26 total tackles, three broken up passes, five pass deflections, and two interceptions. Marcus Mariota will need to know where Tevis is on the field at all times. Tevis will have one thing on his mind and that will be intercepting Mariota’s passes. Otherwise, it could be a long day for the quarterback..
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Check out my other writings on the Kansas Jayhawks blog, Through the Phog.