TUCSON?-The Arizona football team held an open scrimmage at Arizona stadium Saturday night in front of an estimated 1,000 fans. The scrimmage, which consisted of nearly 100 plays, wrapped up the team’s 11th practice of fall camp. (Click here for scrimmage photos)
The 90-minute scrimmage featured a back-and-forth battle between the offense and defense. There was no official scoring, but the offense scored two touchdowns and added four field goals while the defense turned back the offense on seven occasions, including two three-and-out possessions.
“I’m really happy about a lot of the things we did,” said head coach Mike Stoops. “We are a much quicker, more explosive team than a year ago. We have more depth. We played without a few of our starters, but got some of the young guys in there.”
The offense looked solid for most of the scrimmage behind the arms of the quarterbacks. Sophomore Richard Kovalcheck completed 13 of 21 pass attempts for 116 yards while throwing one interception. Junior Adam Austin went 12 of 21 for 145 yards. Freshman Willie Tuitama finished one for five passing with an interception, but he did have the offensive highlight of the night. On the final play of the scrimmage, Tuitama hit Bobby McCoy in stride for a 75-yard touchdown.
“I like our ability to throw the ball downfield,” said the second year head coach. “Our quarterbacks have good arm strength and we have more versatility to throw the ball downfield.”
The Wildcats also showed some flashes of big play ability on the ground. Sophomore Chris Henry took his first carry of the night for a gain of 15 yards. Freshman Terry Longbons also found space as he took his first carry up the middle for 19 yards. Senior Gilbert Harris led all ball carriers with 11 rushes for 29 yards. Freshman Xavier Smith was consistent, gaining 31 yards on 7 rushes. Austin ran for the only rushing touchdown, a six yard carry late in the scrimmage.
The Wildcats also were impressive defensively. Senior Darrell Brooks intercepted a Kovalcheck pass on the third drive of the scrimmage, and junior John McKinney picked off a Willie Tuitama pass.
Sophomore B.J. Dennard played on the defensive team for the entire scrimmage and recorded seven tackles. Freshman Jonathon Turner led the front four with two sacks, while Jason Parker and Dane Krogstad each recorded one and a half sacks.
The kicking game was solid as junior place-kicker Nicholas Folk was successful on all three of his attempts during the scrimmage. He was also five for six prior to the scrimmage, including a 54-yarder. Senior punter Danny Baugher punted four times, including a 57-yard boot, during a special teams segment in the middle of the scrimmage
“I’ve said for a long time our kicking game can be a strength,” Stoops said. “If they can be more consistent, they could be two of the premier kickers in our conference.”
The Wildcats will take tomorrow off from practicing before returning for their final week of fall camp on Monday.
“I am pleased with the way the kids have practiced,” said Stoops. “We’re a much different team than a year ago. If we can get healthy next week, we’ll be right where we should be at this time of the year.”
The team will practice twice on Monday, once at 8:00 a.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. As with all fall camp practices, times and locations are subject to change due to weather or field conditions.
The Cats will next hold an open scrimmage at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, August 20, 6:30 p.m. Prior to the scrimmage fans are invited to attend the annual Meet the Team event, held on the field at Arizona Stadium. Gates open at 4:30 p.m.
Kovalcheck 13-21-1-116; Austin: 12-21-0-145; Tuitama: 1-5-1-75, TD
G. Harris 11-29; X. Smith 7-31; C. Henry 7-24, T. Longbons 2-24; Austin: 9-(-10), TD; Kovalcheck: 2-7; Tuitama: 1-(-10)
Vickers 5-55; Jefferson 5-31;Johnson 4-47; Wood 3-35; Steptoe 3-31, McCoy 1-75, TD; Thomas 1-28; Henry: 1-13; Harris 1-13; Nichols: 1-5
Folk: (3-3) 46, 32, 35; Bondzio: (1-1) 33
Prior to scrimmage: Folk (5-6) 35, 37, 41, 44, 47, 54
Dennard-7, Patrick-7, Bryan-6, Means-5, Lopez-5, Jones-5, Palmer-5, Sims ?-5, Barnett-4, Brooks-4, Krogstad-4, Dotson-3, Shelton-3, Turner-3, Smith-3, Hollingsworth-3, J. Parker-3, Tatum-2, McElroy-2, Fileds-2, Klyce-1, McKinney-2 Fontenot-1, Beach-1, Horton-1, Thomas-1.
Turner-2, J. Parker- 1.5, Krogstad-1.5, McKinney-1, Shelton-1
TACKLES FOR LOSS (4):
Sims, Bryan, Dotson, McKinney
PASSES BROKEN UP (4):
Jones, McKinney, Beach, J. Parker
PUNTING:Baugher 4-202, Ave: 50.5, Net: 48, Long 57