|The Duck defense looks to stop the Arizona spread|
This is the third out of four teams the Ducks will face with a new head coach. Arizona brought in Rich Rodriguez this past off-season after parting ways with former coach Mike Stoops. Though Rodriguez was unable to successfully implement his spread option offense at Michigan, it appears Rodriguez is on his way to better success at Arizona.
After looking at the offense yesterday, in this continuing series from Duck Sports Authority we bring you the head-to-head match-ups of the Oregon Ducks and Arizona Wildcats. Today the focus is on defense.
Rodriguez brought his former defensive coordinator from West Virginia, Jeff Casteel, to Arizona with him. Casteel runs a 3-3-5 defense, but runs it with a twist. Rather than having linebackers in gaps between the defensive linemen, Casteel runs a 3-3 stack meaning that the linebackers line up directly behind the defensive linemen. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Arizona defense.
Arizona: The Wildcats will start Sione Tuihalamaka (6-2, 271) at nose guard. Tuihalamaka has plenty of experience entering the season with 14 career starts in his 24 appearances. While Tuihalamaka was effective last season with 19 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, he appears to be on his way to a better season with 8 tackles and 0.5 sacks early this season.
Behind Tuihalamaka will be the well travelled Tevin Hood (6-0, 302). Hood is a junior who is now with his third football team. An intelligent athlete, Hood had offers from Princeton and Coplumbia but spent his first season with the Duke Blue Devils. After appearing in four games as a true freshman, Hood transferred to the University of San Diego. A Chandler, Arizona native, Hood transferred to Arizona in January of this year.
Oregon: Oregon brings a wealth of experience at defensive tackle. Starters Wade Keliikipi (6-3, 295) and Isaac Remington (6-4, 301) both saw action as starters last season with Keliikipi starting the final 11 games. Keliikipi recorded a career high 5 tackles in the win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl while Remington recorded 31 total tackles on the season. So far this season Remington leads the defensive tackles with 5 total tackles and 2 tackles for loss. Keliikipi has recorded 3 tackles through the first three games.
The real difference for Oregon will come in the reserves as Oregon not only returns all the defensive tackles from last season, that depth took a hit with the injury to Jared Ebert (6-5, 260) who was playing well early after redshirting last year. Ricky Heimuli (6-4, 305) showing promise with 22 total tackles in his 14 reserve appearances last season for the Ducks has also recorded 4 tackles in 2012.
Deforrest Buckner (6-7, 265) a true freshman from Hawaii has played well this season notching 5 total tackles and 1 tackle for loss in the first three games of 2012. The Ducks are also versatile here as Taylor Hart can move inside if needed.
During the first three games the two-deep defensive line has been dominant.
The Ducks have more experience, depth and talent at this position than Arizona and a decided size advantage. The Wildcats will have to play a lot more defensive linemen than they are used to in order to keep up with the Ducks pace. If they do, their inexperience will get taken advantage of; if they do not, then the starters are in for a long day. Their lack of size will become a problem as the game wears on as well.
Arizona: The strong side defensive end position will be manned by Dominque Austin (6-5, 285) a senior returning from a redshirt year last season. Austin had no starts during his career entering the 2012 season. Through the first three games, Austin has played exceptionally recording 11 tackles and 2 pass break-ups. Behind Austin is Chris Merrill (6-2, 273) another senior. Merrill has 19 appearances with 1 career start. In those appearances, Merrill has notched 10 career tackles entering the 2012 season. In his three games played this season, Merrill has recorded just one tackle.
At the other defensive end position will be Reggie Gilbert (6-4, 252) a sophomore who played in six games last season. Gilbert has 5 total tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss in early action this season. Behind Gilbert is Dan Pettinato (6-4, 265) another sophomore. Pettinato did make three starts last season but has appeared in just one of the Wildcats three games and notched just one tackle.
Oregon: Oregon has....
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