Tuihalamaka staying focused

Sione Tuihalamaka is expected to have a big role this season. Read on to see the biggest difference between last year and this year, the freshmen standing out, and more.

Arizona's defense has been revamped to a 3-3-5 with the coming of defensive guru Jeff Casteel.

Sione Tuihalamaka, a junior defensive tackle, has embraced the change and is doing well in the new system.

While he admits that the practices are tougher now that fall camp is coming to a close, there are things that are going well.

"It's going really well," Tuihalamaka said. "I've noticed that we have to play together with whatever we are doing; the offense and the defense and as a team. We're going to have to work together to get that victory."

Tuihalamaka had the spring to get used to the coaches, but now he is seeing that the practices are changing focus to the start of the season.

"The biggest change is having people focused more," he said. "Having that intensity and rhythm that we have helps. Coming into practice everyday, we have a different mentality. We're not being lazy or soft. We're just coming in strong-minded and ready to learn.

"We're learning as a progress. There are things we learn more about every day. We learn the plans and what we have to do to execute it."

The defense has struggled more often than not with the change in schemes. Tuihalamaka thinks that with the bad, there is also good.

"We have our good days and bad days," he said. "We can't really remember our bad days and have to have more good days. We have to come out with the good day mentality every day and work hard.

"We may have a bad day one practice, but we have to go to the next one and bust our butts again to make improvements."

The new coaches have began to change the culture surrounding the Arizona. The junior thinks that the feeling around the practices has started to take shape.

"Our mindset is changed," he said. "We're going hard after the ball every play and leaving everything out there on the field."

In addition to changing the culture, the new staff has also switched the positions of offensive players and made them defenders. The defense needs all the help it can get, with a few freshmen even contributing.

"There's a lot of freshmen that we need to stand out right now," Tuihalamaka said. "Shadow (Williams) and a couple guys on the defensive line have been doing well. We have Taimi (Tutogi) and Keoni Bush-Loo on defense now and that's good. They're both athletic guys and can play different positions.

"We need them to step up so we have better competition to push us and also to give the offense different looks. It's all about working together to get better."

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