Anyone looking ahead to Arizona Football in 2014 talked about one thing: The Wildcats are going to be deep at wide receiver.
With the spring game in the books we’re talking about one thing: The Wildcats are going to be deep – and very good – at wide receiver.
It translates to more than enough to fuel optimism among UA faithful throughout the upcoming summer.
Fans wanted to see the new guys and the two big-name transfers didn’t disappoint. DaVonte’ Neal showed elusiveness and honest-to-goodness breakaway speed on a long touchdown (video highlights can be found here) and Cayleb Jones scored over the middle, showing the size that could make him a go-to guy in the red zone.
As far as the old guys? All Trey Griffey did was this:
The Arizona passing game showed plenty of firepower without getting a single catch from Austin Hill or Nate Phillips. There’s so much talent among the pass-catchers that Samajie Grant, last season’s second-leading receiver, is taking reps at running back.
By the way, how great is that formation going to be on 3rd-and-7? Hill, Neal, Jones and Phillips spread wide with Grant coming out of the backfield. Good luck with that, defensive backs.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Arizona looks almost like a Run-and-Shoot team at times in 2014 with the ball flying through the air much more often than it stays on the ground. So who’s going to be the trigger man?
I was surprised to see quarterback Jesse Scroggins only completed three passes because it felt like a lot more. He looked really comfortable out there, pulling down the ball and picking up first downs with his feet when needed.
Scroggins’ interception, however (the only turnover in the whole scrimmage), was a really bad decision. He tried to hit Terris Jones-Grigsby on that route down the middle the Cats ran last year with Ka’Deem Carey. The problem was there were three defenders in the area and it was an easy pick.
I believe Scroggins is the leader at this point but you can’t rule out any of the top four QBs. Anu Solomon, Connor Brewer and Jerrard Randall remain in the hunt for the starting job.
As you worry about the quarterbacks don’t ignore the guys blocking for them. The first-team offensive line featured three seniors and a junior. The rookie quarterback, whoever he is, will not have rookies protecting him.
The downside of an intrasquad scrimmage is you can’t truly win. If the offense hits a home run the defense is the pitcher who served up the long ball. There are certainly question marks on the defensive side of the ball but under this coaching staff you want the offense to win the spring game every year.
Rich Rodriguez is an offense-first coach and he will win big when he has a dominant offense. The 13-win question is: How close is Arizona to having a dominant offense?
We won’t know until the fall but there was nothing about the spring to temper fans’ optimism that the UA program is in fact moving in the right direction.
If you’re still nervous about new starters in the backfield, look at it this way: Recall how concerned you were about the passing game at the start of last season. RichRod ended up getting 3,465 total yards and 29 TDs out of B.J. Denker. Think about Carey posting a slower 40 time than 24 other running backs at the NFL combine. He produced over 3,800 yards and two All-American seasons in Rodriguez’s system.
RichRod went 8-5 twice in two rebuilding years. What is he going to do when he gets a quarterback with Denker’s speed and work ethic plus a cannon arm? What’s going to happen when he has a tailback who runs with Ka’Deem’s fire and has 4.4 speed?
Those days might be closer than you think. Dream about that this summer.
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