Arizona Defense News & Notes
* Rodriguez gave the nod to the defense, which now has a 2-1 edge through three practices. He said the unit “overwhelmingly won” on third downs. That’s a great sign for a unit that frankly was awful on third downs last year (52.6 percent allowed, second worst in the nation).
* Asked what defensive backs have impressed him the most so far, Peterson cited starters Dane Cruikshank, Jace Whittaker and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles – as well as freshman safeties Scottie Young Jr. and Troy Young.
* A sleeper to watch out for among Arizona’s edge rushers: sophomore Lee Anderson III, a converted linebacker. The coaches are looking for four players to rotate at defensive end and “Stud.”
* Among the freshmen at those spots, Jalen Harris and Kylan Wilborn have stood out the most so far, position coach Brian Knorr said.
* Senior defensive lineman Parker Zellers said freshman defensive tackle Kurtis Brown has displayed some surprisingly advanced moves and techniques so far.
* Defensive end Jack Banda has had some big games for Arizona (Colorado 2015, Washington 2016) but is seeking to become more consistent as a senior.
* According to Knorr, who also coaches special teams, Arizona is grading every special-teams rep, even in walk-throughs, and is charting every aspect of every kick and punt.
* Arizona sophomore safety Tristan Cooper said the Wildcats are much better at disguising coverages in Year 2 under defensive coordinator Marcel Yates.
* Cooper is confident Arizona will be a much-improved team this year. "Everybody knows we’ve got to prove something,” he said. “Everybody knows we’re gonna prove something."
* Add Cooper to the list of Wildcats heaping praise on linebacker Tony Fields II, who seems destined for a meaty role as a freshman.