Here is more of my conversation with first-year defense Arizona defensive line coach Joe Salave’a. Click the link for the first part of the interview:
Salave’a, in particular, is in charge of the defensive tackles, where he has two sophomore starters (Justin Washington and Sione Tuihalamaka) and two redshirt freshman backups (Kirifi Taula and Aiulua Fanene). There are no senior backups at the position.
The team’s starting ends are seniors — C.J. Parish and Mohammed Usman — but they have barely played the position at this level and everyone behind them is even more raw.
Salave’a on that young and inexperienced line:
“We don’t get credit for being young. That’s the thing we’re working toward — to get these guys to mentally come up. Start producing now, because we don’t have anyone else. …
“I think our guys are starting to understand that nothing is going to come easy. We’re going to have to earn everything we get. If we make the smallest mistake, that can cost us a game. I think we have to work with that kind of understanding.”
On if he allows himself to look a year or into the future to project how good the line could be:
“That’s the thing that we don’t have. We don’t have the time. The turnaround in the coaching profession is so rapid. That’s the daily talk we have with our guys. We sit down and say, ‘This is what we have for now.’ We can’t look further than what we have. I credit my guys. They say, ‘Coach is on to something.’ This isn’t the NFL. We can’t parade guys in here and have tryouts. That have to produce now.”
On his emphasis on conditioning:
“The Desert Swarm wasn’t made in the AC. Tedy Bruschi wasn’t born in the AC. Those boys bled out here, and nothing is going to change in my demeanor of being a staunch advocate of conditioning. That’s where it starts. You have to be conditioned to play a long time. Everyone can talk about playing good defense, but not everyone is willing to make those strides and commit. We can build that into our practices, and I think we have done that. We’ve got to keep these guys on their toes, so they don’t level off.”
On how the team’s time at Fort Huachuca compared to the week he and his Arizona teammates used to spend at Camp Cochise outside of Douglas:
“This is five-star, Club Med. This is awesome. I’m happy for our players. There was a time and place for that Camp Cochise era, but Coach (Mike Stoops) has done a great job of keeping this thing going. It’s still camp. We’re together. Guys aren’t rushing off anywhere. And that is what camp is all about. You want to make sure guys are spending time with one another, crossing all the borderlines between offense and defense. Because when it comes down to it, they’re going to have to count on each other to get this thing going.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the ninth installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.