In order to understand how the defensive line has played, you have to understand what its job is. While people normally associate the defensive line getting sacks, that is not the job here. Instead, it is to get low and be gap sound in order for the entire defense as a whole to be more efficient and be able to contain numerous aspects of the opposing defense.
Still, it has not done that with a ton of success. There has to be some push when the defensive line gets low and there really hasn’t been. Quarterbacks have had way too much time to throw and much of that is because the defensive line is not doing its job effectively.
The linebackers are the main players that are supposed to get in there and sack the quarterback and while the numbers that California put up were pretty good across the board, it was probably the best game of the season for the linebackers.
Scooby Wright has easily been the best linebacker that Arizona has and beyond that, it has not been great. The coaching staff put Tra’Mayne Bondurant at linebacker and from our position, that could be the smartest way to go the rest of the season. It almost certainly seems to be the strategy we will see Arizona go with against California.
Each linebacker has had its moment, but only one has been consistent. Whether it is Cody Ippolito, Jake Matthews, or others, Arizona needs its linebackers to be better. It could be interesting to see if there is an improvement should Arizona goes with Wright, Bondurant, and Derrick Turituri as the third.
It may be a surprise to some, but I actually think this has been the worst part of the defense. Now, it could be because of a lack of pressure on the quarterbacks, but it seems the secondary has been struggling for much of the season.
Jarvis McCall has had his moments, but it is obvious that he is still a freshman. We know people are quick to give up on players that struggle, but McCall has the talent to succeed and seems to be struggling more with the overall knowledge of the game and scheme.
Jonathan McKnight has seemingly not improved much from last season, which is a major disappointment, and Cam Denson just seems to be too inexperienced and not ready for the prime time just yet.
For as much as we heard about Jourdon Grandon in both spring and fall camp, he has been extremely disappointing. Another player that has plenty of talent, Grandon is getting lost in coverage on the deep balls and is struggling right now.
Simply put, the secondary is going to have to improve.