Michael Barton is a newcomer on defense, but the Cal graduate transfer has already become a viable asset on and off the field.
“Whenever my name gets called, I’m ready to go,” Barton said. “I think the coaches know that I think my teammates know that and they continue to trust me. I practice hard and with and poise and am always trying to bring intensity to the game.
“I know that when I go in the game, everyone trusts me to get the job done. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first play or the third or fourth series. When I go in there, I’m giving it 110 percent.”
Barton broke out during Arizona’s game against Hawaii, penetrating the middle of the field and helping to hold the Rainbow Warriors to just 168 rushing yards on the night. The fourth year player attributes that to the aggressiveness of the defense.
“The play on defense at Arizona has been completely different,” he said. “It’s a lot more aggressive scheme and it sets up our guys to make more plays. Defense was and still is very conservative at Cal and after experiencing both, I like the aggressive style much more.”
“The big thing I think with our group is that the athletes really get to step up and make plays and that’s the biggest difference in a lot of games. It helps our guys with they style of play because we have smaller but athletic defensive lineman and you have to find something that works around that. I like what our defense is a lot.”
Barton has never felt more comfortable with an overall group of linebackers.
“I think we have a really great group,” Barton said. “DeAndre has been great for us and he’s such a threat off the outside because of his speed. Paul is very athletic and has done a nice job of creating plays in open space for us. He’s also a guy who’s going to be all over the field.
“Cody is definitely one of the smarter guys we have and he’s always making sure everyone is doing what they need to do. Then I think you can’t forget guys like Johnny Kenny who really stepped up and played well last week. I would say this the best group of linebackers I’ve seen at my level and more importantly, guys I can trust when I’m on the field with them.”
Fulfilling his last year of eligibility, Barton is determined to accomplish a variety of goals with this defense.
“Being an all conference player is of course one,” he said. “I want to be able to make a Pac-12 Championship game, which has always been not only my goal, but the team’s from the get go.
"The big one though is I really just don’t want to make any mistakes. No mental mistakes no missed assignments and most of all, no missed tackles. I think if I do those things, I’ll be able to accomplish my goals.”
Being a bread of the Pac-12, Barton is familiar with and prepared for the challenges of Washington’s lively offense.
“They’re definitely a physical team and I think they are one of the best teams in the Pac 12,” Barton said. “They’re athletic upfront and they’ve got some speed guys on the outside like John Ross and Chico McClatcher. The offense is really good and I just think Jake Browning has matured from last year when we played him.
“He’s a guy who has a lot more poise in the pocket and it seems like he has the timing and everything like that down to find his receivers. They’re offensive line is also very athletic and can make plays.”
“We’re going to have our hands full with them on all cylinders, but I think they’re definitely beatable based off the way we’ve been preparing for them. I’m really excited for this game as it opens up things for the rest of the season.”