It has not always been easy for linebacker Antonio Smothers, but he is finally starting to see his playing time increase.
"I came a long way," Smothers said. "It was a struggle at first and now I am starting to get things. I still have things to learn, but it was a struggle and now I am getting better.
"I’m still trying to get it to click right now. I am taking it one day at a time and accepting coaching and trying to be as coachable as possible."
Smothers had a good idea that he would be playing more against Washington State, as he felt he was successful in practice throughout the week.
"That week of practice it just felt good," he said. "I wasn’t making any mental mistakes and during practice I was doing everything correct with what coach wanted me to do with my technique and when I got my opportunity I was blessed to go out there and play."
Rich Rodriguez felt that Smothers would be able to contribute because of his ability to get to the quarterback.
"It was big last week when we put him in the pass rush role," Rodriguez said. "He’s still learning the defense, but there is less to learn when you’re a defensive end and you’re just going after the quarterback.
"He’s got some explosiveness. We were glad he was able to contribute last week and I think he will continue to."
Smothers has also been helped by the fact that his teammates and the coaching staff are willing to put in the time with him.
"Everybody in that linebacker room is helping me out," Smothers said. "I don’t want to give anybody more or less credit, we are all brothers. If I am down or don’t understand something, they will all help me out and pick me up."
Looking at UCLA, Smothers believes that the Bruins have a similar offense to what Arizona has already seen this season.
"They do a lot of stuff that Oregon does," he said. "Pretty much in college nowadays everybody is running the same thing, so you have to be disciplined, coachable, and do your job."
One of the biggest challenges for the Wildcats' defense will be containing UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley on the ground.
"Just doing your job," Smothers said of how to contain Hundley. "If you have the quarterback, take the quarterback. If you have the pitch man, take the pitch man.
"Whatever you have to do, whatever coaches tell you to do during the week, do it and we will be okay."