Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats End Fall Camp On High Note
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: August 21, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The University of Arizona football team wrapped up its 2006 Fall Camp with its annual Meet the Team night, which was capped off with an open scrimmage in front of approximately 8,500 fans in Arizona Stadium.


Prior to the scrimmage, fans got a chance to get autographs from the players and coaches down on the field, as well as bring the kids out to participate in various skill stations.


“Every year, this gets better and better,” third year head coach Mike Stoops said of the Meet the Team night festivites. “Our fans can see the progress we’re making. They can make a big difference for us on September 2nd.”


The scrimmage, which consisted of about 80 plays, pitted the offense and defense against one another. The offense had a greater emphasis on the running game than in recent days, but it was still a balanced performance for the “white” shirts. Defensively, the “blue” shirts looked solid, making a few big plays and laying some big hits.


Sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama trotted out with the first team offense, but found it difficult to move the ball. After picking up a first down, the initial drive would stall out after five plays.


Senior Adam Austin brought the second team offense out, but the offense couldn’t hang on to the ball for long. After B.J. Dennard hung onto a tough first down grab while receiving a crushing hit from safety Corey Hall, Xavier Smith fumbled the football on the next play. Smith made a nice cut to pick up positive yards, but he was hit by middle linebacker Adrien McCovy, who jarred the ball loose and recovered the fumble.


On the next drive, the first team offense found some momentum. Wasting no time, Tuitama looked for Syndric Steptoe deep down the sideline, but a pass interference penalty on Dominic Patrick prevented the big gain. Two plays later, Chris Henry took a handoff and dashed for 14 yards and another first down. Henry would rumble for 10 more yards a few plays later, but consecutive incompletions on second and third down would stall the drive out. Nick Folk was brought out to kick a 30-yard field goal, which he sent through the uprights.


The offense started the next drive at the 50 yard line, and continued to ride the momentum it built on the previous drive. Chris Jennings took his first handoff of the evening from Austin, made a cut into the hole and out-raced safety Nate Ness to the endzone for a 50-yard scoring play.


After Anthony Johnson hauled in a 23 yard pass from Austin, the offense struggled to move the ball on the next three possessions. Defensive ends Ricky Elmore and Johnathan Turner each recorded sacks to end drives by the offense.


Later, Tuitama and the first team offense would get back on track, but not after finding themselves in a third and long after Jason Parker and Ronnie Palmer stopped Xavier Smith for a loss. Even so, Tuitama fired a pass down the middle of the field to a streaking Johnson, who hauled in the pass for 30 yards. Johnson would then snag a 13-yard throw from Tuitama, to get offense in field goal range. After the drive stalled, Folk came in to boot a 43 yard field goal.


After taking a short intermission to work on special teams, the team resumed action in the second half. Jennings broke off a nice five yard gain, before Johnson caught a short four yard pass.  However, trying to get extra yardaged, Johnson was stripped by cornerback Michael Turner, who fell on the football to turn the offense over.


Austin got the offense moving on the next possession, however. After two Smith runs picked up five yards, Austin hit freshman Terrell Reese for a 12 yard gain to move the chains. Then, four plays later, the duo would connect for 12 more yards, and another first down. That would be all the further the offense could move, as Folk drilled his third field goal of the night, this time from 40 yards.


Two drives later, the offense would put the ball in Jennings’ hands. He picked up 20 yards on a short pass from Tuitama to move the chains, then gained seven on the ground to pick up another first down. After a Cam Nelson sack, the offense found itself behind the chains, and couldn’t get any closer to the endzone. For the fourth time on the evening, Folk successfully hit on his field goal attempt, the final one coming from 47 yards.


Kris Heavner and Tyler Lyon each received a series apiece at the end of the scrimmage, but neither had much success moving the football.


With Fall Camp all wrapped up, the Wildcats will take tomorrow and Monday off, before returning to the practice field on Tuesday to being preparations for the season opener on Sept. 2 against Brigham Young.


Camp Notes


 Running back Derke Robinson was granted his release from the University and will no longer be with the team due to personal reasons. Robinson’s departure was a mutual understanding by both parties, and coach Stoops said that the team “wishes the best for Derke.” ... Arizona’s 2006 Fall Camp spanned 17 days, with 19 practices ... Every practice, except for the two open scrimmages, were held at the Rincon Vista Complex ... The August 8th practice, which was cut short after an hour due to severe thunderstorms in the area, was the only Fall Camp practice affected by monsoon thunderstorms ... In addition to the players Arizona signed last spring, 17 walk-ons joined the program this fall, including Shawn Best, a member of the track and field squad ... Louis Holmes, a highly-touted junior college transfer, reported to camp on Aug 4th, one day after practices began ... Kicker Nick Folk was a perfect five for five in live kicking situations in the two scrimmages, including 59 and 47 yard attempts ... Jason Bondzio handled the kickoff duties in the second scrimmage, while Syndric Steptoe was the feature return man for both punt and kickoff return teams ... Wide receiver Bobby McCoy and tackle Adam Grant both missed the entire camp recovering from injuries sustained over the summer ... Chris Jennings, a junior college transfer who walked onto the team this fall, has emerged as capable threat in the running game, earning reps behind Chris Henry and Xavier Smith. Jennings performance in the second scrimmage could lead to increased reps ... Offensive coordinator Mike Canales has been impressed with his trio of freshman wide receivers ?- each 6-foot-2 or taller and all vying for playing time this fall ... A handful of players missed time due to small dings, but fortunately no major injuries were sustained during Fall Camp ... Arizona’s season-opener is set for Saturday, Sept. 2nd, at 7:15 p.m. in Arizona Stadium.




Head coach Mike Stoops


On the team’s performance: “I was pleased again. I thought we did a lot of good things, overall. Chris Jennings really ran the ball well. Both Chris’ (Jennings and Henry) ran well.”


On the team’s health coming out of camp: “We had a lot of starters out. We have probably been more cautious with our guys this year than in any other camp. We would be 100% healthy and have everyone available if we played next week. Peter Graniello hasn’t missed a down in the last two years. Michael Johnson is a tremendous player. Those are guys that could play if they had to.”


On the attitude of the team: “The kids have a strong, positive attitude. I think we’re building some strong character and strong work ethic in this program.”


Offensive coordinator Mike Canales:


On the running game: “I’m very pleased with the running game. We can definitely run the football this year.”


On RB Chris Jennings: “We wanted to throw him into the fire. He did some good things. He ran exceptionally well. He caught a pass out of the backfield. That’s something our running backs have to do. They have to catch the ball.”


On the offense plan for the scrimmage: ”We shortened our package a bit tonight. It was very vanilla. I thought we did some good things.”


Sophomore QB Willie Tuitama


On the offensive production in the scrimmage:” We held some stuff back. We didn’t show everything. But I thought we did a lot of things good. The running backs were running hard. We had good blocking up front that gave us time to do things.”


Junior WR Anthony Johnson


On finishing out camp on a high note: “It felt really good. It was a good way to end camp.”


On the development of the passing game: “It’s coming along well. We put in a lot of work this summer, working on extra stuff together. We’ve got a good offensive line that is working their butts off to let us throw the ball downfield.”


Junior RB Chris Jennings:


On his 50-yard touchdown run: “I just saw the hole open up. One of my blockers crossed my face and I knew I was going to take it to the house.”


On the progress of the running game: “We need to keep doing what we’re doing. We need to stay together like a fist. If we do that, things are going to happen.”


Freshman CB Michael Turner


On adjusting to the speed of Division I players: “Speed. Speed is the biggest difference. My head has to snap around to the wide receiver faster.”







Passing: 25-39-219 yards

            Tuitama: 13-18-124

            Austin:  11-16-95

Heavner: 1-3-0

Lyon: 0-2-0


Rushing: 27-158 yards, 1 TD (sacks not included)

            Smith: 13-27

            Henry: 7-36

Jennings: 6-95, TD

Longbons: 1-0



Johnson, 9-91; Dennard, 4-30; Reese, 2-24; Bell, 2-15; Steptoe, 2-14; Smith, 2-9; Jennings, 1-20; Thomas, 1-9; Turner 1-9


Special Teams


Field goals:

            Folk: Made ?- 30, 43, 40, 47


Punting (No returns):

            McQuown: 60, 38, 21

            Crier: 45





Larsen ?- 5; Hall ?- 5; M. Turner ?- 5; Palmer ?- 4; Fontenot ?- 4; Klyce ?- 4; Holmes ?- 4; Kelley ?- 3; Shelton ?- 3; McCovy ?- 3; Tatum ?- 3; Parker ?- 3; Patrick ?- 3; Nelson ?- 3; Krogsttad ?- 2; Elmore ?- 2; Dotson ?- 2; J. Turner ?- 2; Bertrand ?- 1; Philipp ?- 1; Cason ?- 1; Ness ?- 1; Horton Jr. ?- 1; Barnett ?- 1; Amituanai ?- 1; Samoy -1 ; Hollingsworth ?- 1; Alford ?- 1



            Elmore ?- 1; J. Turner ?- 1; Nelson -1; Holmes ?- 0.5; Horton Jr. ?- 0.5


Tackles for Loss:

Larsen ?- 1; J. Turner ?- 1; Holmes ?- 1; Horton Jr. ?- 1; Parker ?- 1; Palmer ?- 1; Nelson ?- 1


Passes Broken Up:

            M. Turner ?- 3; Patrick ?- 1; Hall ?- 1; Ross ?- 1


Forced Fumbles:

            McCovy ?- 1; M. Turner ?- 1


Fumbles Recovered:

            McCovy ?- 1; M. Turner - 1

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