Arizona's defense played well in Saturday's scrimmage, as it came up with numerous interceptions and pressured the quarterback throughout the night.
's defense played relatively well in Saturday's scrimmage. Here is a notebook of the notable players.
The defense started the night in the 4-3 formation, with C.J. Parish, Justin Washington, Kirifi Taula, and Reggie Gilbert starting along the defensive line. Mohammed Usman missed the scrimmage with a boot on his foot, while Sione Tuihalamaka sat as well.
Paul Vassallo and Derek Earls flanked freshman Rob Hankins, who got the start at middle linebacker. In the secondary, it was Trevin Wade and Jonathan McKnight as the starting corners, with Marquis Flowers and Robert Golden at safety.
The night belonged to Trevin Wade, who made two interceptions, broke up another pass, and made a few nice tackles in the open field on swing passes and running plays.
After the scrimmage, Wade admitted to having a new mindset for the 2011 season, and it showed on Saturday night. If Wade can return to the form that made him a fan favorite back in 2009, the Arizona defense may be even better than expected.
C.J. Parish continues to stand out along the defensive line. His motor is constantly running, and he's often in the backfield on both running and passing plays alike. While he did not record a sack, Parish was able to free himself up for a few tackles in run defense; something that is generally not easy to do even for experienced defensive ends.
Parish's experience at linebacker earlier in his career make him a useful player in run support, and as he continues to refine his technique off the edge in pass rush, he should prove to be a handful for opposing offensive tackles.
Hank Hobson was a name that was called often throughout the scrimmage Saturday, and the freshman showed a willingness to stick his nose in the pile in run support and was effective finishing tackles in open space.
Obviously Hobson needs to adjust to the speed of the college game and continue to get stronger, but he already brings fearlessness to the position that cannot be taught.
The defense as a whole displayed solid tackling technique throughout the night, as there were very few missed tackles. Once contact was made, the defense generally swarmed to the ball and finished as a unit.
David Lopez had the boot off his foot for the scrimmage, made a few tackles and also intercepted a Daxx Garman pass on the offense's side of the field. Lopez still has a lot to learn scheme wise, but the interception shows that he is making progress in that regard.
It's difficult to pick which newcomer will have the greatest impact at linebacker, as Lopez, Hankins, and Hobson all continue to battle it out for the third and final spot in the defense. All have shown flashes and the two weeks before official game action begins will benefit each of them greatly.
The defensive line did a good job of applying pressure on Nick Foles and the rest of the quarterbacks throughout the night. Dan Pettinato, Chris Merrill, and Jowyn Ward, all recorded sacks, and the holes in the running game often closed quickly, forcing the running backs to improvise and look for room in cut backs and around the edge.
Overall, it was a solid night for the defense. With the exception of one 39-yard touchdown to Juron Criner, it defended well down the field in pass defense and filled all of the running lanes in run defense. When the defense returns Usman and Tuihalamaka, that should only strengthen it, and make the transition for one of the three new linebackers that much easier.