Arizona Wildcats Football: Grading the Defense in 2011

Alex ShoemakerAnalyst IISeptember 1, 2011

Arizona Wildcats Football: Grading the Defense in 2011

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    As I mentioned in the piece breaking downing the offense, a Mike Stoops coached team is and will be known for its defense.

    The 2011 season might be a little different as both units are about equal in talent level and questions.

    Injuries this offseason have been killer, and this team doesn’t have the depth to rotate a ton of guys in.

    With that said, here’s a look at how the 2011 defense breaks down for the Arizona Wildcats.

    For the offense: click here

Defensive Linemen: C

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    To keep it simple, this unit is pretty bad.

    The Wildcats lose three of four starting linemen, and only have one decent player on the line in defensive tackle Justin Washington.

    The Wildcats' one saving grace is that they have two seniors starting at the two defensive end positions who have seen playing time.

Linebackers: B+

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    This is easily the Wildcats strongest position defensively. The one area of concern for the Wildcats is depth. If players start to go down to injuries, this unit could easily drop a letter grade.

    At OLB the Wildcats have the second best linebacker in the conference in Paul Vassallo (102 tackles, 6 TFL). Vassallo will be the anchor of the 2011 defense.

Defensive Backs: B

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    The secondary is pretty good with two pretty solid returning corners.

    What will keep this unit from being tested will be how poor the defensive line is and teams trying to manhandle them upfront.

    As mentioned earlier, the Wildcats return senior corners Trevin Wade and Robert Golden.

    Where the Wildcats hurt is at the safety position.

    Replacing Anthony Wilcox is no easy task, and SS Marquis Flowers will be a target teams will look to exploit.

Overall Defense: B

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    I felt that giving the offense a “B” was being pretty generous, and I feel the same way about the defense. My philosophy though, is trust Mike Stoops to put a good defense on the field. Look for the linebackers to help out the DBs, as well as the D-line. I know that’s a lot to ask, but they both need it. This unit, especially the defensive line, is incredibly thin and injuries could derail a good season.