UA's defensive line begins life without Bruschi, Osborne

By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 1, 1996

After their first full weekend of spring practice, the Arizona football coaching staff has started to work towards their goal of filling some holes. One of the biggest holes can be found in a key area of the UA defense, the defensive line.

The Wildcats play mostly man-to-man coverage against opposing wide receivers, which makes putting pressure on the quarterback vital for their defense to succeed.

"We have quite a bit of potential in the line, but what we are trying to do is make that potential one of our strengths," UA defensive line coach Marty Long said. "That is what spring is for."

For the first time in four years, the Wildcats will be lining up against opposing offenses without Tedy Bruschi and Chuck Osborne, and while the loss to graduation of these two linemen leaves some big shoes to fill - Bruschi tied the NCAA record for career sacks with 52 - returning junior lineman Joe Salave'a (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) is ready to bring the new guys up to speed.

"My attitude is not to try and make up for Tedy and Chuck," Salave'a said. "What I'm going to do is gather up our front four guys and bring the new guys along for the ride. Really, we haven't lost a step on defense."

"Without a doubt, Joe is our leader," Long said. "But we need other guys to step up and show they can play. Guys like (freshman) Daniel Greer, (junior) Cai McCray and (sophomore) Jimmy Sprotte."

With the returning linemen recording only three sacks last season, the Wildcats will pretty much be starting from scratch.

Aside from McCray (6-4, 260), Sprotte (6-2, 250), Greer (6-2, 245) and Salave'a, Arizona will look for contributions from juniors Chato Jackson (6-0, 228) and Beau Ralphs (6-2, 251), along with freshmen Kenny Jackson (6-1, 207) and Ralph Perez (6-1, 244). Newcomer Junior College transfer Steve Tafua (6-4, 280) is also working out in spring practice and could make an impact.

"We've got to reload this year on the line," Long said. "My goal for this spring is to get two starters and one reserve at every position."