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Thursday, July 22, 2010
Don't be surprised if... Arizona

By staff

First in a series of Pac-10 thoughts that might come from unusual angles (you can see Arizona's 2009 prediction here).

Don't be surprised if... The Wildcats defense is all about big plays -- both positive and negative ones.

Consider the Arizona defense, which is replacing seven starters from a unit that ranked second in the Pac-10, including quality leaders such as tackle Earl Mitchell and safety Cam Nelson.

Also consider the combination of Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed at end. They might become the best pass rushing tandem in the conference.

See three new linebackers and two voids in the secondary. And then see ball-hawking cornerback Trevin Wade.

Two things stand out when you look at the Wildcats defensive depth chart in 2010: 1. Inexperience, particularly at linebacker; 2. Playmakers, particularly Wade, Reed and Elmore.

So: Good things. And bad things.

Here's what I expect to see in 2010:
That's the positive. But here's the negative:
Every defensive coach loves sacks and takeaways. And they hate yielding explosion plays.

The Wildcats look like they could see a fair share of the former and latter in 2010. How the numbers swing one way or the other will be telling.