Many players in the defensive backfield are going to have big opportunities given to them in 2012. With a new system in place that utilizes a plethora of cornerbacks and safeties, there are going to be chances for certain players to make an impact who have yet to see much of the field in the past.
One such player who is almost guaranteed to see an ample amount of playing time is cornerback Derrick Rainey. The junior has waited quite some time to break into the rotation and now that a significant role is upon him, Rainey is thankful for the chance to prove himself.
"I'm just trying to take it a day at a time," Rainey said. "I'm just trying to work harder and harder every day, but I have noticed the opportunity and I am grateful for them."
One of the biggest hurdles for a roster dealing with coaching attrition is adjusting the schemes and philosophy the new staff brings. Rainey doesn't see much difference in his role, but is willing to take on any task that is asked of him.
"Just like any scheme," Rainey said. "If they need a corner, I have to step up. It's my job. I am going to keep working and do what I have to do. It's my time, so it's time for me to step up to the plate and do my job."
After recent practices and scrimmages, there have been plenty of skeptics when it comes to the defensive expectations of this squad. Rainey hasn't come across any negativity himself, but believes the defense is going to have a much stronger year than many are anticipating.
"I haven't heard any criticism but, if we do, I am not going to let that get to us," Rainey said. "I think we are coming together as a team and we can't worry about what other people say about us. We are going to come together as a team."
Another big change has been the pace of practice under the new staff. Rainey sees the team making progress and is heading in the right direction in terms of conditioning.
"I think we are getting prepared," Rainey said. "I know we're working every day to get more prepared for these games that are coming up, so that's what we are going to do every day."
One of the more glaring concerns for the secondary is replacing Adam Hall once again. It was another big blow to the defensive backfield, but Rainey has faith that others are going to elevate their play in Hall's absence.
"Safety is a job," Rainey said. "It's football. When somebody's down, somebody else has to step up and every body is stepping up and doing their roles."
Despite the transition of schemes and the potential issues that can accompany it, Rainey says defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel still expects his group to play at a high level.
"He still expects us to perform at an elite level," Rainey said. "It's division one football. They let us know every day that this is the University of Arizona and we have to play at an elite level. That's what we are doing out here. We are going to come out and compete every day."
With modest expectations for the UA football program in 2012, many fans believe they will see an average-at-best squad in the upcoming campaign. Rainey doesn't see it that way though, as he believes the team is striving to raise some eyebrows.
"We do intend on surprising people," Rainey said. "But we are taking it one game at a time."
Rainey looking to surprise
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