USC Football: Previewing the Wildcats Defense


Sep 14, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats safety Jared Tevis (38) tackles Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners wide receiver Brandon Freeman (84) during the third quarter at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats defeated the Roadrunners 38-13. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Just as USC and Arizona share many themes on offense, the Trojans and Wildcats feature similar trajectories on defense with a new defensive scheme and new-found success.

Jeff Casteel, the Wildcat defensive coordinator, is in his second season at Arizona, but this is the first year that he has instituted the 3-3-5 defense. That change in scheme, along with the experience of 254 career starts across the starting 11, has dramatically improved the defense.

The Arizona secondary, lead by junior Tra’Mayne Bondurant, have nabbed seven interceptions already this season. Of particular concern for the Trojans, three of those interceptions have been returned for touchdowns. That’s good for second in the nation in pick six’s. Those interceptions are just part of the Wildcat’s defensive improvement. A pass defense that ranked near the bottom of the FBS last season, this year is giving up just 185. yards passing per game with a national rank of 19th.

In the linebacking corp, the newest and only member without previous starting experience has stolen the spotlight. Scooby Wright, a true freshman, leads the team in tackles and tackles for loss on the strongside. Joining him is standout senior Marquis Flowers, who was converted from safety a year ago, and has thrived in the linebacker position. The senior leader of the ground, Jake Fischer, has logged 20 total tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. However, he is in doubt for the game.

In the trenches, Arizona is led by senior linemen Tevin Hood and Sione Tuihalamaka. The wildcats have shown some much needed improvement in this area, logging nearly half of the tackles for loss by defensive linemen so far as they did all of last season. However, the unit still struggles to get pressure on the quarterback. With six total sacks this year they rank 88th in the nation.

Projected starting line up:

END #84 Reggie GilbertNOSE #98 Tevin HoodEND #91 Sione TuihalamakaSLB #31 Scooby WrightMLB #33 Jake FischerWLB #2 Marquis FlowersSPUR #21 Tra’Mayne BondurantBANDIT #38 Jared TevisLC #6 Jonathan McKnightRC #5 Shaquille RichardsonFS #26 Jourdon Grandon