Football Guide: Positional grades for defensive linemen
Projected starters: Reggie Gilbert, senior (defensive end); Jeff Worthy, junior (nose tackle); Dan Pettinato, redshirt senior (defensive tackle)
Backups: Jordan Allen (redshirt senior), Parker Zellers (redshirt freshman), Calvin Allen (redshirt freshman), Aiulua Fanene (redshirt sophomore), Jack Banda (redshirt freshman), Luca Bruno (redshirt freshman), Jerod Cody (redshirt sophomore), Sani Fuimaono (sophomore), Marcus Griffin (true freshman), Niko Kittrell (redshirt sophomore), Hunter Long (redshirt junior), Dwight Melvin (redshirt sophomore)
Departures: Tevin Hood (graduation), Kyle Kelley (left program), Kirifi Taula (medical), Sione Tuihalamaka (graduation)
Returning stat leaders:
Reggie Gilbert (2013-14) — 34 total tackles, four sacks and seven tackles for loss
Dan Pettinato (2013-14) — 10 total tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss
Jordan Allen, Defensive Lineman
The lack of a consistent pass rush has been a detriment for the majority of Arizona teams over the past half-decade. There have been talented individual pass rushers, but there hasn’t been one team that was dominant at getting to the quarterback.
Returning this season is redshirt senior Dan Pettinato, who was injured at the beginning of the season and fell down the depth chart. However, a strong spring has moved him atop the defensive tackle depth chart.
Unfortunately for Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, he likely won’t have a dominant pass rush this season. There’s no doubting there is increased depth across the defensive line, but it just doesn’t seem likely to see more than the 24 sacks the defense had last season.
Headlining that increased depth is the duo of LSU transfer Jordan Allen and Boise State transfer Jeff Worthy. Both had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
The duo will provide veteran bodies who have played on successful D1 college football teams and be much better rotational players than Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has had in his two previous years in the program.
Casteel said he plans on rotating plays based on how many snaps the coaching staff feels it can play per game.
“What we’re trying to do is find out how many optimal reps can such and such get at will linebacker, a five technique or whatever it may be,” Casteel said. “Some guys are going to be able to do their best at maybe 45-50 snaps a game, and another kid may be a 20-25 snaps a game guy.”
Having more able bodies will allow Casteel to have more fresh bodies than he’s ever had at Arizona.
Follow Roberto Payne @HouseofPayne555