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Arizona Wildcats fire defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei
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Arizona Wildcats fire defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei

Iona Uiagalelei, Arizona spring 2019

The Arizona Wildcats have fired defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei, a little more than two days before Saturday's showdown with No. 7 Utah.

The second-year defensive line coach lasted just 22 games at the college level. Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin hired him away from California's Mt. San Antonio Junior College with hopes that he could develop defensive linemen while tapping into Arizona's long-dormant Polynesian recruiting pipeline. 

Uigalelei is the third defensive assistant coach to be fired this season: Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing were dismissed Oct. 27, shortly after Arizona's loss at Stanford. The Wildcats had never fired an assistant coach midseason before then.

Arizona ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing defense and last in the league in yards allowed per game. 

The UA has not announced the move yet, and it's unclear who will coach the defensive line when the Wildcats host the Utes at 8 p.m. Saturday. The new coach will join new coordinator Chuck Cecil, linebackers coach Hank Hobson and incumbent defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin on that side of the ball.

Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter @justinesports

Sports producer

Justin writes stories and produces digital content about UA football and basketball and high school football. A Tucson native, Justin graduated from the UA in 2017 and is the host of the Wildcast Podcast and a radio host on ESPN Tucson.

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