UA will not Forsake Power
Coaches: Michael Smith, Bill Bedenbaugh
Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, who came from Texas Tech with offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, is UA’s running game coordinator and will work closely with Dykes and running backs coach Michael Smith to make it work. Bedenbaugh is experienced in the nuances of the spread offense, and rushing success starts with his big guys in the front row. The backs find space only if those fellows give it to them.
The Cats are equipped with a pair of veteran tailbacks in senior Chris Jennings and sophomore Xavier Smith, plus had soph Terry Longbons and redshirt freshman Glyndon Bolasky working the spot in spring ball.
Henry declared for the NFL draft and will forego his senior year. His physical power and pass catching ability (21) will be missed. But
The issue here, if
|Chris Jennings||Xavier Smith||Terry Longbons||Glyndon Bolasky|
“We’re going to be physical on offense, and that’s going to involve the running game,” Stoops says. “We will not become a soft team because we’re going to throw the ball, that’s not who we are.” The Cats will play the power game. The aforementioned guys in camp have shown they can do this, and UA welcomes a pair of incoming freshman recruited for the short term, if necessary -- Nick Grigsby and Joe Reese.
In one spring scrimmage, running backs averaged 8.4 yards per carry against a pretty good defense to add 185 yards to a productive passing game. The ball carriers seemed to get the ball in early space and the play-calling was not predictive but blended seemlessly with the pace of the new offense.
The offensive model Stoops has mentioned in the off season is Brigham Young’s, UA’s first opponent in 2007. That offense averaged 465 yards per game with 142 rushing and 323 passing. The Cougars threw and ran the ball in equal amounts, considerably more balanced in rush-pass than Texas Tech.
If Arizona goes with an “I” or other power formations occasionally as suggeted by Stoops to maintain some smash-mouth style, don’t necessarily look for H-backs Earl Mitchell, Brandon Lopez and Brooks Reed, all good fullback types, to run the ball. Dykes' co-chairmanship at Texas Tech had two running backs carry the ball 161 times; on 21 other occasions it was receivers on the handoff. Look for Arizona to run the ball with its core group.
Coaches believed former UA running back Mike Bell was a good one; he ended up starting games for the Denver Broncos as a free-agent last year. They felt his successor Chris Henry was solid; he's poised for the NFL draft a year early. They feel Jennings and Smith are going to be complimentary to the new offense. It's easy to believe.
Top Running Backs
Chris Jennings, 5-10, 225, Sr., 1L
Xavier Smith, 5-11, 196, So., 1L
Terry Longbons, 5-11, 200, So., SQ
Glyndon Bolasky, 5-11, 208, Fr-RS
Fall Recruits: Nicholas Grigsby, 5-10, 178; Joe Reese, 6-1, 190
Position Notes... Tech’s featured running back in ?'06, Shannon Woods added 75 receptions to his ball carrying duties. If that’s the model, that’s 75 more touches in open space for a UA back...
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