Probable Starters vs USC
DE 1 Louis Holmes 6-6 265 Sr.*-1L
DT 96 Yaniv Barnett 6-1 315 Sr.-3L
DT 54 Lionel Dotson 6-4 286 Sr.*-3L
DE 97 Johnathan Turner 6-3 262 Jr.*-2L
DE 53 Jason Parker 6-3 265 Sr.*-3L (key backup)
Sam LB 39 Dane Krogstad 6-2 240 Sr.*-3L
Mike LB 33 Ronnie Palmer 6-3 245 Jr.*-2L
Will LB 51 Spencer Larsen 6-1 240 Sr.*-3L
Cornerback 3 Wilrey Fontenot 5-9 174 Sr.*-3L
CB 6 Devin Ross 5-11 170 So.-1L (key backup)
Strong Safety 20 Cam Nelson 6-1 200 So.*-1L
Free Safety 8 Dominic Patrick 6-1 210 Sr.-3L
FS 21 Corey Hall 5-10 190 So.*-1L (key backup)
Cornerback 5 Antoine Cason 6-1 185 Sr.-3L
Best Defensive Player: CB Antoine Cason
Defensive Line -- The Wilcats rotate 3 pretty good players at defensive end. The regular starters are Louis Holmes (18 tackles, 2 TFL, 0 sacks)and Johnathan Turner (10 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks), but Jason Parker (25 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks) sees a lot of time as well and is the leading tackler amongst the linemen. At defensive tackle, seniors Yaniv Barnet (18 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack) and Lionel Dotson (19 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks) have started every game this season, and are very experienced. In fact, the strength of this unit is its experience. They have been done a decent job against the run, opposing teams have averaged 116.3 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per rush. The unit's weakness has been pressuring the QB and causing turnovers. The Wildcats had only 15 sacks last season, and although the 12 sacks they have this year are ahead of last year's pace, they still aren't generating the pressure that Mike Stoops would like.
Linebackers -- The linebackers experienced and very active. Senior weakside LB Spencer Larsen (49 tackles, 2 TFL) leads the team in tackles, junior MLB Ronnie Palmer (39 tackles, 1 TFL) is 3rd on the team in tackles, and senior strong-side LB Dane Krogstad (28 tackles, 2.5 TFL) is the tied for 5th in tackles. They are stout against the run, tackle very well, and make plays all over the field. Their only weakness seems to be the lack of production in pass coverage, given that the 3 starters have yet to record a sack or an interception.
Defensive Backs -- The secondary is probably the strength of Arizona's defense. This is a fast unit, probably more athletic than USC's secondary. Three seniors starters return in the defensive backfield, led by Jim Thorpe Award candidate Antoine Cason. The senior CB is one of the elite cover guys in the country, and he proved it last year when he manhandled USC's all-everything WR Dwayne Jarrett. Cason is the team's 2nd leading tackler with 40, and has TD returns on both a punt (70 yards) and an INT (60 yards) so far this season. Senior CB Wilroy Fontenot starts opposite of Cason, an though undersized at 5-9, he has tremendous speed and good ball skills. The safeties sophomore Cam Nelson and senior Dominic Patrick are big hitters and sure tacklers. Nelson is 4th on the team in tackles with 34, while Patrick is tied for 5th with 28.
The key matchups will be up shortly...
Thanks once again to Scout.com's College Football News and the Arizona Athletics website's Game Notes for providing background info on the Wildcats...