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Oregon Football

Five Players to Know: Arizona Defense

November 13, 2019

The Wildcats give up a whopping 36.9 points per game, which ranks 119th out of 130 FBS teams. They’ve especially struggled of late, yielding 46 points on average over the last three games.

Arizona fired its defensive coordinator, Marcel Yates, in hopes of turning the defense around, but so far newly promoted linebacker coach John Rushing hasn’t done so. The Arizona offense has put up points, so it’s the defense that is largely responsible for the 4-5 record.

Here’s five Wildcats who will need to be on their A games if they want to be able to slow down the Oregon offense.

Colin Schooler (7), Linebacker

The 6-1, 229-pound junior is an absolute stud in the middle of the field. He leads the team in tackles with 63, and he has recorded 0.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections and 2 fumble recoveries.

Schooler is the captain of this defense, and he is a fantastic tackler in space. He’s quick enough for his size, and he's able to put his head down and lay the lumber.

Schooler excels in the running game, backing up a defensive line that tends to let backs get to the second level.

Tony Fields II (1), Linebacker

The 6-1, 220-pound junior has quietly become a leading contributor. He’s second on the team in tackles with 62, plus 3 pass deflections, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble.

Schooler is usually the guy people talk about when discussing Arizona linebackers, but Fields may be just as good. He appears to a step quicker than Schooler, if not quite as hard a hitter.

Jace Whittaker (17), Cornerback

The 5-11, 185-pound senior has been solid for the Wildcats. He has 32 tackles and is tied for the team lead in interceptions with 5.

The Wildcats have two veteran corners in Whittaker and in Lorenzo Burns. However, as the defensive line has struggled getting pressure on the quarterback, the corners tend to get picked apart. They must cover for a long time while opposing quarterbacks sit in the pocket until someone gets open.

The savvy cornerback will be challenged by the emerging Oregon pass catchers.

Scottie Young Jr., (6) Safety

In 2019, the 5-11, 201-pound junior has had to make a lot of plays to stop big gains. He’s third on the team in tackles with 40 and also has 2 pass deflections.

Here’s the thing about Young: He’s not the biggest ballhawk. A starting safety only having 2 pass deflections and 0 interceptions is never a good sign.

However, he is a good tackler. Multiple times this season the cornerbacks have gotten burned or the running back has gotten to the third level, and Young has made a play to prevent a long touchdown.

Young will need some support from his front seven if he wants to be able to sit back in coverage and try to make more plays on the ball.

Jalen Harris (49), Defensive End

The 6-5, 250-pound sophomore has started to come into his own after a solid freshman campaign in 2018. He has only 17 tackles, but he leads the team with 3.5 sacks.

Harris has been the only consistent pass rushing threat for the Wildcats; no one else has more than 1 sack. In total, the Wildcats have just 7 team sacks.

Harris will have to be able to get after Justin Herbert if the Wildcats harbor any hopes of slowing down the Oregon passing game.

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