One of the biggest challenges for the 2011 Arizona football squad will be replacing the production of departed defensive ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed. The two All-Pac-10 performers will be playing football at the next level in 2011 and UA has the duty of finding two players that can fill the void along the defensive line.
One such player looking to make an impression is Dan Pettinato. The defensive end has performed very well in spring camp and the coaching staff is high on his potential. After redshirting last season, Pettinato is ready to throw his hat in the ring in hopes of earning a starting job.
"Last year was a good year just to get things going and get used to the program," Pettinato said. "There is a chance for everyone to make something happen this year."
Pettinato is fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead for him and the rest of the players competing for a defensive end job. UA's defense was successful due in large part to the impact Elmore and Reed both made. Pettinato believes that, even though it will be extremely difficult to fill their shoes, everyone is up for the challenge.
"They are two really good defensive ends," Pettinato said. "We have all the tools we need to fill their spots. We have speed guys and we have power guys. I think we'll be alright."
The defensive line is under new tutelage with Coach Joe Salave'a. Pettinato has enjoyed practicing under his new mentor and is impressed by the knowledge that he has brought to the team.
"It's awesome," Pettinato said. "I like him a lot as a coach. He really knows what he's talking about and he's helping all of us out."
The defense has performed relatively well in the spring, but it has a long way to go to be ready for Pac-12 competition. Pettinato and his teammates are working hard to prepare for the campaign and he is fully confident they will get to where they need to be.
"Right now it's hard to tell (how ready we are)," Pettinato said. "We have all summer and we have (Fall) camp. As of right now, we're still working at it. I don't think we're fully there, but we'll get there."
The family atmosphere around the Arizona football squad is a subject that has been brought up several times over the past few seasons. Pettinato sees the players that are competing along the defensive line gel and believes everyone is slowly coming together.
"Guys are getting really close to each other and we're starting to bond a lot," Pettinato said. "Guys are getting to know each other more and we're starting to work as one on defense."
Pettinato aware of challenges
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