Defensive line remains a concern

Defensive line remains a concern

Another Arizona opponent, and another quarterback who rarely feels the heat of the Wildcats' defensive line. It's a serious problem that could prohibit the Wildcats from meeting their ultimate potential as a football team in 2008.

Against Washington: Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore and D'Aundre Reed – the Wildcats' three main defensive ends – combined for a total zero sacks. Neither of the three has been especially productive this season when it's come to putting pressure on the opposing quarterback.

The defensive tackle position is depleted at best. Lolomana Mikaele probably won't return this season, Earl Mitchell is banged up, Kaniela Tuipulotu and Donald Horton are decent, and the Wildcats don't have much beyond that.

Jowyn Ward is now out with a sprained foot, and he could be sidelined for a long time. Another true freshman, Dominique Austin, was pulled from his redshirt year against Washington. He didn't pick up any tackles in his first action.

Solomon Koehler, who some felt could even start this season as a true freshman, has been disappointing in practice and hasn't been able to work his way into the rotation. Hans Philipp appears to be the odd man out.

On top of all that, Arizona's run defense was very bad against New Mexico and UCLA, and a good part of the reason the Wildcats lost that game to the Lobos.

Bottom line: if the defensive ends don't step up and the coaches can't find some production and health out of the tackles, the last seven games of the season won't be nearly as productive as the first five.

There are athletes all across the defensive line, but the coaches definitely have work to do to put it all together.

Let's hope that Stanford is the game where it turns around.

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