Redshirt freshman Ronnie Palmer, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker out of Spring, Texas, appeared primed for a starting role on the Arizona football team in 2005 after an impressive showing in spring practices.
His Wildcat debut was delayed, however, when a broken foot suffered in training camp this fall sent him to the sidelines for more than six weeks.
In his return Saturday against Stanford, Palmer made three tackles and assisted on a sack in limited playing time. Against No. 15 Oregon at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Palmer should see increased game action, boosting the Wildcats' run defense.
Palmer spoke to the Arizona Daily Wildcat yesterday about returning to the football field, dealing with mobile quarterbacks and how the Pacific 10 Conference compares to Texas high school football.
Wildcat: What were you feeling getting back on the field for the first time since high school against Stanford?
Palmer: Oh man, it was different. It's been two years. It felt good.
Wildcat: And you'll get some more game time this week?
Palmer: Yeah, that's how our position is. Everybody needs to stay healthy, and we're rotating constantly. But a little bit more than last game - I'm looking to get my wind back.
Wildcat: What do you bring to the Arizona defense that may have been missing the first six games?
Palmer: I guess a little bit more noise. I talk a lot more. Hopefully a little bit more excitement. (But) definitely more noise, as far as running my mouth.
Wildcat: What sort of things do you like to say to opposing quarterbacks, especially a guy like (Oregon quarterback) Kellen Clemens who likes to run?
Palmer: Haven't got there yet, (so) I don't know. That's going to come in time.
Wildcat: This team needs five straight wins to get to the postseason. What's the defense looking to do to reach that goal?
Palmer: Turnovers. Definitely more turnovers. We need to help our offense out more, as far as getting them the right positioning on the field, and just bring the same intensity we did last week. If we play good like we did last week, there's no telling.
Wildcat: What are you looking to accomplish these last five games and in the years after that?
Palmer: Of course we're looking to turn around the program, but we need to take it one game at a time. We don't look at it five games at a time. Right now we're looking at Oregon.
Wildcat: How do you like facing a quarterback like Clemens, who likes running out of the pocket from a shotgun set?
Palmer: It's always a challenge. He'll definitely keep us on our toes, and I'll have to run with him and contend. That's the goal right now.
Wildcat: Your home state of Texas is really known for high school football. How is that atmosphere different from the atmosphere of the Pac-10?
Palmer: It's no different. It's big-time in Texas, and it's big-time here. Every game, everybody's talking about it.
Wildcat: Last question - who were some of your favorite linebackers growing up, and who are some of the guys now you try to pattern yourself after?
Palmer: I guess my favorite would have to be (Baltimore Raven) Ray Lewis, the way he controls everything. I like watching (Kansas City Chief) Derrick Johnson a lot. He's from Texas. ... (But) I like just watching (linebackers) in general - the leadership, the way they conduct themselves on the field.