The Arizona Wildcats will be led by an almost entirely new staff on defense. Speaking with multiple members on the defensive side of the ball, there's a definite culture change. The defensive line group now has Vincent Amey as their coach, after being promoted from his previous football analyst position.
Marcus Griffin has been a hot topic amongst readers. Ranked as a 4-star defensive tackle, checking in at 300lbs, many always wonder why his size hasn't been used, but keep in mind he still has three years of eligibility ahead. I got to speak with him after practice on Saturday and talk about the defensive changes.
"It's kinda like doing it all over again," Griffin said about his second go-around at spring practice, first with this new staff. "With the new coaching staff it's like a fresh start for everything. Kind of like the infant stage because we're trying to pick up the new defenses and new calls and new signals, learning all the responsibilities."
"Definitely feels like that," he said when asked if he felt it was a new start for him. "It's a fresh clean slate. I don't think I necessarily needed it but it helps, especially with this new defense we're going to have."
There's a different feel with the defensive staff now. A renewed energy seems to be in the air and it's contagious. Coming off a disappointing season in 2015, things are quickly changing.
"It's just contagious. Vince [Amey] is a high-spirited guy. He wants to have fun but loves to work. It just makes you want to go harder, go faster just because you see that energy and want to feed off of it."
"Yeah I think that's the whole theme of this defense," Griffin added when I brought up bringing back the Desert Swarm defense. "We want to bring back the fun and swagger. We didn't really bring the swagger last year. But as of now and how it looks, what people are saying, we're going to have a swagger this season and I think everyone is going to like it."
As for Griffin's role on the defense, he'll be able to play in mutiple spots. We're still unsure as to what the base defense will be for Arizona. We've heard that it wll be a multiple front, but unsure as to what exactly that will look like.
"I'm playing more defensive tackle and defensive end right now, I haven't been put in the nose yet but we'll see what happens. If I do then I do, if I don't then I don't," he said about his position on the defensive line.
Amidst all the defensive changes, Arizona lost some big time size on the line, after redshirt freshman Sharif Williams announced that he would be medically retiring from football. Sharif and Marcus were two of the closest guys on defense, and it was a little sad for Griffin to see his teammate step away.
"Yeah it kinda hurts," Griffin said. "Because when it came to recruiting we were supposed to be the two guys in our class to do it. But I lost him and gained DJ Cloy. It works both ways. I lost a brother but I also gained another brother. I have someone in my class now to push me."
Cloy made the switch from tight end to defensive line this spring.
It'll be interesting to see what the defensive line can do with a new coach, a new scheme, and a new set of guys ready to step up and take on a larger role.