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Arizona football: Q&A with Wildcats nose guard Sani Fuimaono

Catching up with Arizona's Sani Fuimaono before the Pac-12 Championship Game

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

There's no question that the Arizona Wildcats defense has stepped up to a new level over the past several weeks. One change that was made before that improvement was giving Sani Fuimaono more playing time at nose guard. I caught up with the sophomore from Hawaii to find out what's been going right up front, and what to look for from Oregon this week.

Fuimaono's first start at nose guard came against Washington three weeks ago.

Since getting into the lineup more, how has the defensive line improved?

Fuimaono: I think we're seeing the opportunity and seizing upon it. And I think we're just playing ball as a defense. It doesn't really matter who's in. Everyone's got assignments to take care of, and you just gotta play the game within the game.

How do you work on improving the physicality aspect in practice?

I think it's a big mental thing. You're coming in with that attitude, and that focus to get better. Every day is a grind, and you just gotta continue to have a good attitude, and keep a good head on your shoulder, and continue to work. Each day is hard, and each day is going to challenge you, and it's going to come with adversity, but you gotta work through that and take care of what you gotta take care of to help the defense.

Is it difficult as a defender to not get to tackle a lot in practice?

Going back to the attitude, it's a game of contact, and we love to hit, but at the same time, the coaches are being smart to give us time to rest the bodies, but keeping us hungry as well.

What's the main thing the defensive line focuses on when facing someone like Marcus Mariota?

The main thing is just taking care of assignments, taking care of the man in front of us. Letting the block take us to the ball. And it's something that I've got to work on every day as well as the rest of the d-linemen. Just taking care of the man in front of you.

Which Oregon games do you focus on this year given that their offensive line was banged up against Arizona?

I think we just look at their overall. We look at our old game that we played with them earlier this year and focus on the things that we messed up on, and try to fix on that. But the main thing is whoever is in, we're just going to play ball.

What does Scooby Wright III bring to the front when he's rushing on the edge?

He just brings his attitude of just tenacity and relentlessness. You just keep going, and he has a motor, and having someone like that that everyone just feeds off. Everyone feeds off each other, and we just continue to play ball.

Has his work ethic rubbed off on everyone else?

Oh for sure. We're all ball players, and we all just feed off each other, and Scooby's a good ballplayer. But there's no one man on the defense. We're all one team.

Looking back at the goal line stand vs. ASU, what did that do for the defense's confidence moving forward?

You know, it was a big statement. We seized upon the opportunity that was in front of us, and we took care of business.