Turituri excited about opportunity

True freshman Derrick Turituri saw plenty of action in Friday night's game against NAU. Read on to find out how it went for him, what he is doing to prepare for UNLV, and more.

Last season, very few true freshmen played in the first game of the season. In the second year under Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, several freshman saw playing time, including linebacker Derrick Turituri.

Although he was used primarily on third downs and special teams, the linebacker had a great experience during his first collegiate game.

"It was crazy to get out there and go," Turituri said of the first game. "My first play was actually on special teams. We didn't get the chance to return it, but it was crazy out there with everyone suited up and the crowd there. It was fun."

The linebacker had some trouble adjusting to the sound in Arizona Stadium, as he had issues hearing the plays being called from the middle linebacker.

"It was loud," Turituri said. "I've never been in a place so loud before. It was actually hard to hear the calls from the MIKE (linebacker). It was difficult to hear people on the field that were just ten feet away, but it was awesome."

Coming to Arizona, Turituri wasn't promised any playing time or a position. However, through some opportunities and hard work, he found a way onto the field.

"I wanted to work as hard as I could and see if I could play," he said. "I think that it's everyone's goal to get here and play right away. I got the chance to do that and I took advantage of it."

During the opener against NAU, the freshman broke past the line on a crucial third down and sacked the quarterback, forcing the Lumberjacks to attempt a long field goal, which was missed.

"I was so happy (when I got the sack)," Turituri said. "When I got up all the guys were around me and patting me on the back. The upperclassmen were congratulating me. It felt great."

Being one of the blitzing members of a specialized third down squad known as the SWAT team is something that excites the freshman. He feels that he has the motor to be an effective defender on third downs.

"Pass rushing is one of my favorite things to do," he said. "Being on the SWAT team, I get to do my favorite thing, so it is really fun.

"Having a good motor (is what it takes to be on the SWAT team). You have to be able to run to the ball wherever it is at. You can get a fumble recovery or make up for a missed tackle by someone else. Coach definitely looks for a good motor for guys on SWAT team."

In addition to seeing significant playing time during his first college game, Turituri was joined by his older brother, Tyler, when camp started.

"He was at Portland State and before I got here, he told me that he wanted to come down," he said. "I kind of knew that he would come down here, but I wasn't sure and then when he told me I knew for sure."

Having a familiar face around has been a great help for Turituri. He often finds himself noticing his brother during practice, specifically which position his brother is playing.

"It's nice to have him here," Turituri said. "Every once in a while I will look over and see how he is doing. He's a defensive end right now. I was kind of surprised because I thought he was a safety. He's pretty big for a safety I guess."

Heading into the road opener against UNLV, Arizona will need to focus. The Wildcats lacked focus on Tuesday night. The team bounced back on Wednesday and had a clearer focus on the goal.

"Yesterday, after our practice, we all got together and said that we needed to have a better practice today," Turituri said. "We all came out and did a lot better and coach was a lot happier.

"Everyone has a bad day, but you have to come back. When you get kicked down, you have to stand back up and that's what we did today."

The Runnin' Rebels aren't going to be a push over win for the Wildcats. It will be a hard fought game and Turituri thinks that his team is ready.

"They are a good team," he said. "We have been watching a lot of film and going through all of our game plans. We are really trying to get the edge on them. They are a good team, but I think our team is going to be ready."

One of the offensive notes from UNLV's first game was the accumulation of short passes and runs. While it is an effective way to run an offense, the linebacker believes that he gets to see plenty of that already, during practice.

"We have different check calls and different formations," Turituri said. "We should be able to check into something to get those short passes. It is similar to our offense with the speed of the passes and the tempo of the game. I think we will be ready."

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