Arizona has an opportunity to make the 2010 football season its most successful season in program history. Accomplishing that is going to be a very difficult task, but given the state of the Pac-10, it's certainly not out of the question.
In order for the Wildcats to win the conference and earn the first Rose Bowl bid in school history, there are several players that are going to need to step up. The key to winning the conference is having key impact players all over the field and having them develop chemistry in order win as a team.
On the defensive side of the ball, we take a look at Ricky Elmore. As a junior, Elmore had a breakout campaign by harassing opposing quarterbacks all season long which led to a career-high 10.5 sacks, good for second in the conference.
Finally fully healthy, Elmore was able t reach the potential that many had claimed he had as a freshman and a sophomore. He was the primary reason that the Wildcats had such a deadly pass-rush and finished third as a team in the Pac-10 in sacks.
Elmore couldn't be stopped by a single person either. Often double teamed or lined up against a top-tier left tackle, Elmore made scaring the quarterback look like a simple task at time. His endless motor put a charge into the rest of the defense and he emerged as one of the leaders on that side of the ball.
Going into to 2010, UA could have the best combination of starting defensive ends in the conference. While Brooks Reed battled his way through injuries as a junior, he had a monster sophomore season. If both Reed and Elmore can play at 100% throughout the season, opposing quarterbacks could live in fear under center all season long.
Elmore doesn't necessarily need to improve on his numbers as he is sure to get more attention when the opponent game plans for the Wildcats' defense. He just needs to bring the same level of intensity as a senior and hope the new tackles prove their worth. If that happens (as well as Reed staying healthy) Elmore should be in for a monster senior season.
The defense needs Elmore to step up more than ever considering all of the new faces across the field. UA will field a relatively inexperienced group and will need veterans like Elmore to bring senior leadership and productivity to the field.
Elmore is the type of player that his teammates will feed off of and his energy brings everyone to another level while on the field. The key will be reaching the young and inexperienced players. If Elmore produces on the field and his energy transfers to his teammates, the defense could be a very surprising group in 2010
Ricky Elmore important to defense
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