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Arizona football: Wildcats defense to show more variety in 2016

Get ready for a bunch of different looks from Arizona’s defense this year

UTSA v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One thing about the Arizona Wildcats defense that hurt it last year is that the formations and packages go repetitive and stale, allowing opponents to kind of know what was coming their way.

With the new defensive staff, things are changing, and so are the packages Arizona will use, particularly up front.

"(Coach Amey)’s bringing a lot more styles in, and I’m very excited for it," defensive lineman Luca Bruno said on Wednesday. "We’re more of an attack defense now."

Bruno also explained that the Wildcats’ strategy will change pre-snap this year.

"We’re always moving," he said. "A lot more moving, and I like that. And I like the whole attack strategy so we can get off the ball as fast as we can."

This is a far cry from what was going on before Marcel Yates took over as defensive coordinator.

"I think it was easy to predict what we were going to do," Bruno said about the past defensive scheme. "I think stemming and the stuff we’re talking about, I’m really loving that. It’s going to start confusing people and I love that."

"For the past few years, we were running basically the same things," senior linebacker Cody Ippolito added. "This new defense has a lot of new packages and a lot of new things we can do. I feel we’ll be able to surprise more people with everything we can do."

As far as where he’ll be playing on the line this year, Bruno will probably play more interior, but says he will be able to play all three positions.

"From my knowledge, I’m still a D tackle right now," the redshirt junior continued. "We want a lot more rotation this year, and I think we can get that, so everyone’s going to try and as many positions as possible."

He also said that Sani Fuimaono projects to be the primary weak side player.

As far as newcomers go, one young guy has really caught the eye of the seasoned Bruno.

"Justin Belknap," Bruno stated. "I think he’s done really good and he’s coming up. He’s done a lot in the weight room to get his weight up and his strength up. Also we saw in the spring that he was a contender. Also Finton (Connolly). I think he’ll be playing good at the nose as well as the tackle position."

Another (sort of) new body out there will be Ippolito, who says that he is 100% after tearing his ACL during last year’s fall camp.

"I’m definitely excited to get to that first game and start hitting people again," Ippolito said.

It took him a bit to gain full confidence in his knee, but he has reached that point now with fall camp starting Thursday.

"In that first couple months, there’s definitely that thought of if your knee’s going to hold up," he explained. "But now I’ve come so far, and all my trainers have gotten me to the point where I don’t even think about it anymore."

"I’d like to do everything hitting-wise," he added about what he wants to do in camp. "I lost about 10-15 pounds to get back in shape and take some pressure off my knee."