Taula playing his part

Kirifi Taula may not have had a major role last season, but that is going to change. Read on to see how Taula feels about his extended role, what he is doing to improve, and more.

Along the defensive line, Justin Washington and Sione Tuihalamaka are expected to anchor the group and the rest of the defense. A player that is less well known but is in line to contribute up front is Kirifi Taula, who used his redshirt year a season ago to put himself in position to earn significant playing time in the 2011 season.

"Definitely going against the older guys like Colin Baxter and Adam Grant, it was a good experience," Taula said. "Guys like Conan (Amituanai), they were all good guys and they all played hard, so it was fun and a good experience. I feel like I did better this year just knowing what I did last year."

In his second camp at Arizona, Taula has been working hard to improve his technique and improve his skill level in the trenches.

"Camp went well, all of us got reps in there and it went well," Taula. "I was really focused on working on staying lower, getting my base down, and fighting through double teams. I think I really improved on my pad level, extending my arms, shooting off, and my pass rush."

The 6-foot-3, 280-pound redshirt-freshman received plenty of first team reps throughout camp, and is just happy to be in a position to help the team win.

"The coaches told me I was going to get a lot of reps and I've got to step up for the team," Taula said. "I'm just trying to do my part for the team and play my part on this team. I'm definitely ready for the challenge."

First year defensive line coach Joe Salave'a has been instrumental in developing Taula into a defensive lineman capable of contributing in the Pac-12, and the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Garden Grove (Calif.) Servite High School product is grateful for the teachings of his new coach.

"Coach Salave'a is great, he's probably the best coach I've ever had," Taula said. "He motivates you to get better and work harder. And knowing he spent nine years in the NFL, it's not like we're second-guessing his coaching or anything. We're all in with him and we believe in him 100 percent. That's always good to have the full, 100 percent going one way and in one direction."

With the defensive line together in their support of Salave'a, Taula sees good thing from the defense as a whole if the unit can rally together in support of each other.

"The defense is going to be good," Taula said. "As long as we keep together and work hard, if we do that, I think we'll do some good things this year." With no game experience under his belt, it's no surprise that Taula's goals for himself are very simple in comparison to his hopes for the team.

"I don't really have any goals," Taula said. "I just am trying to be a team player, do my job, stay in my gap and if I can make plays, I'll make some plays.

"As far as a team, we want to take over Arizona," Taula said. "We want to be outright Arizona's college team. We want to win our section and then hopefully win the Pac-12."


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