One-on-One with Michael Barton

Michael Barton discusses the difference between Cal and Arizona, his role in the defense, and more. How’s the move gone?

Michael Barton: I love it here. The biggest thing is that the guys have welcomed me with open arms. I have come in and worked hard and I think the guys see that. I want to make the team better and help us win and I think the guys appreciate that.

WA: Was Arizona the clear choice?

Barton: I was looking at some other schools, but the biggest thing for me was that I wanted to know where I was going as soon as possible. My prior relationships at Arizona with Coach Michalczik and Freddie being here helped and then the fact Arizona is in the Pac-12 and close to home made it a no-brainer. 

WA: You were injured sophomore year at Cal and to be blunt, haven’t been the same player since. How much did that injury take out of you?

Barton: It was definitely rough. Coming back from any injury is a pain, but I continued to work with the strength staff and my thought process was what was going to put me in the best position to succeed and I think a fresh start was the answer. It was important for me to get my degree, which I did, and now I get to begin grad school and play football for another year.

WA: Is it any easier knowing that your teammates are just learning the defense as well?

Barton: Those guys had a head start in spring ball. I got the install in spring, so I was able to keep up, but once I got here I was really able to dive into the playbook. I think it is good that I came in with the staff. They are on a fresh start and I am on a fresh start. I’m not used to not learning a new defense because I had three defensive coaches while I was at Cal.

WA: What is it like having Yates not only as the DC, but as your position coach also?

Barton: You get a better understanding of the rest of the defense. Not only are we learning our position, but we are learning what the safeties, corners, and defensive line are doing because he needs to know and we need to know as linebacker. Playing the MIKE, I have to be able to direct the defensive line and call the plays. Knowing what everybody else is going while I am playing helps me understand the defense a lot better.

WA: I know it’s top secret, but what can you tell me about this defense?

Barton: There is going to be a lot of movement. We’re going to get a lot of pressure on the defense. The best way to describe it is that we are going to be an aggressive defense. Coming from a more conservative defense at Cal to here, it allows the defense to play and be physical and run to the ball.

WA: Why is the intensity in practice up?

Barton: It is more fun and guys are competing. Guys want to play, so we push each other at practice and at every position there is some sort of battle going on. Guys are getting better every practice because we’re learning and competing.

WA: Excited about the BYU game?

Barton: It’s been circled since January. BYU is a little revenge because we played them two years ago at Cal and lost and that was to get us to a Bowl game. That is still in the back of my mind and I am excited about the game and ready to get after it.

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