Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Outlook Wrap - Coaching and More
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 30, 2007
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Staff Positioned to Succeed


The oft-used “team chemistry” phrase comes into serious play for UA’s coaching staff this year.


No knock intended on Stoops’ choices his first three years, but the offensive synergy with Sonny Dykes, Dana Dimel, Darrell Wyatt, Bill Bedenbaugh and Michael Smith will be at a four-year high based on the off season and spring ball. Part of that surely comes from the installation of a new offensive system, and the high energy that entails. Still, UA has a group of on-the-same-page people running the attack, and results have been extremely positive.


More support comes from Stoops himself. When asked about his focus on offense now that there’s something new going on, he said, “Not much.”  He’s comfortable leaving the particulars to what he feels is a dynamic staff of guys with enormous credibility, and sticking with his love -- defense.

Sonny Dykes

Darrell Wyatt

Bill Bedenbaugh

Dana Dimel

Michael Smith


Stoops’ take on the offensive staff is that Dykes knows the system and has the track record, Bedenbaugh is a spread guy for most of his career and will accelerate the learning up front, Wyatt’s a known commodity with some exemplary results in some crossover work at Oklahoma when Stoops was there, Dimel brings head coaching experience and a strategist’s edge, and Smith’s had some huge success coaching RBs at Kansas State. 


Defense is where continuity has helped turn UA’s fortunes around from its 2-10 tumble in 2003. Coordinator Mark Stoops, Tim Kish. Joe Robinson and Mike Tuiasosopo have been aboard since the start and worked diligently to transform the team persona.  They’ve had a lot of help from the head guy. All have seen plenty of competition at the top of the game from previous jobs and have brought that outlook to Arizona’s personality.


Mark Stoops

Tim Kish

Mike Tuiasosopo

Joe Robinson


Corey Edmond

The staff has had a lot of help from strength coach Corey Edmond and his people, which this year includes Brian Odom as a top football assistant. Student-athlete accountability in the strength and conditioning program is to the point where it’s a part of life. Edmond’s officially director of “performance enhancement,” and he’s done just that.






Erick Harper

Operations director Erick Harper is in his fourth year and has helped forge the necessary foundation to make the program succeed both on and off the field. He's the agent for much of the day-to-day, hourly planning and preparation that helps the coaching staff recruit, teach and have the right materials and services at their disposal. Assistant director of operations Andrew Weidinger enters his first year as a fulltime staff member and has been an office aide for four years.



The entire staff is assisted by its office personnel, Kelly Hooker, Ana Verdin and Kim Herrington. Then, too, video services are an entire operation on its own, headed by Bob Ford and Tim Cummins and Frank Buffano.



Coaching Staff

Head Coach:                           Mike Stoops, 4th year

Defensive Coordinator:           Mark Stoops (DB coach), 4th year

Offensive Coordinator:           Sonny Dykes (QB coach), 1st year

Associate Head Coach:          Dana Dimel (TE/HB coach), 2nd year

Assistant Head Coach:           Tim Kish (LB coach), 4th year

Running Game Coordinator:    Bill Bedenbaugh (OL coach), 1st year

Passing Game Coordinator:    Darrell Wyatt (WR coach), 1st year

Special Teams Coordinator:    Joe Robinson (DE coach), 4th year

Running Backs Coach:            Michael Smith, 1st year

Defensive Tackles Coach:      Mike Tuiasosopo, 4th year

Offensive G.A.:                       Dave Nichol, 1st year

Defensive G.A.:                      Brandon Shelby (July), 1st year



Dave Nichol

Brandon Shelby

Coaching Notes...
Dana Dimel is the elder statesman on the offensive side, in his second year. He’s the third tight ends coach under Stoops after Steve Spurrier Jr. and Josh Heupel the first two years of his tenure... Mark Stoops and wife Chantel had their first child Oct. 16, son William Thomas...  If you exclude head-coaching changes, the four new offensive coaches in 2007 make for the first full-scale makeover at Arizona on that side of the staff since Dick Tomey switched Duane Akina to offensive coordinator (from defense) in 1992 and brought in WR coach Norm Anderson, and Charlie Dickey and Jim Young to coach the offensive line. Tony Mason brought Keith Rowen to coach tight ends and elevated Bob Davie and Ron Turner to assistant-coach status on the offensive side in 1979...  Departed offensive coaches are busy in new jobs. Former OC Mike Canales is at South Florida, former RB coach Kasey Dunn is at Baylor, former WR coach Charlie Williams is at North Carolina and former OL coach Eric Wolford is at Illinois... Defensive graduate assistant Brandon Shelby officially starts after the end of the school year, but was in Tucson during spring ball voluntarily learning the ropes. He’s not unfamiliar with the defense, having played as a DB for four years at Oklahoma, three of those under Mike Stoops from 2001-03. Current defensive G.A. Travis Ochs is leaving in June to enter private business after three years with Stoops’ program...



Walk-On Program

Helping out the Team


One thing coaches appreciate is the group of players who contribute to the program by “walking on” without a scholarship. In spring ball, they have a decent chance to show their potential. In fall camp and during the season they perform a lot of the dirty work, competing on scout teams against the top units. Throughout, they’re valuable team members.


Some high moments for a walk-on are little more than an appreciative remark from a coach during practice for an assignment or “look” performed admirably. The younger coaches ?- graduate assistants who help direct scout-team play ?- are particularly keen on how the non-scholarship guys help the team prepare.


Arizona currently has a number of non-scholarship guys who have helped over the past several years. One is senior tight end Matt Richards, who has lettered on special teams and worked a year or two on the defensive line in his career and earned a scholarship last year. Redshirt freshman linebacker Cole Graybill has moved up the depth chart at middle linebacker and is expected to go on scholarship after this season when he’s expected to see action as a backup and on special teams player. Senior long snapper Garon McHone is a two-year starter as the long snapper and a letterman. Junior defensive tackle Dave Bertrand has earned two letters as a capable reserve on the interior.


Chris Jennings took a shot and came to Arizona as an invitee out of junior college last fall, then was awarded a scholarship by mid-year after earning the starting running back role. Punter Keenyn Crier earned a scholarship this year after a season as a walk-on.


UA Squadmen

Haig Abnous, freshman WR

Brad Allen, sophomore OL

Aaron Anderson, senior TE

Dave Bertand, junior letterman DT

Jimmy Bevell, freshman QB

Keenyn Crier, freshman punter

Kyle Day, freshman receiver

Jimmy Donaldson, sophomore QB

Tim Egger, freshman punter

Chris Elkins, freshman DE

Trevor Foster, freshman DB

Mike Getzler, freshman PK

Cole Graybill, freshman LB

Chris Hannon, junior OL

Josh Lewis, sophomore DE

Garon McHone, senior letterman long snapper

John Markovich, senior DT

Jared Mosley, sophomore DB

Jose Ortiz, sophomore CB

Rod Rivera, sophomore WR

Jeremy Samoy, sophomore LB

John Sanders, freshman QB

Rickey Watson, freshman DB

Ricky Wolder, freshman long snapper

Victor Yates, freshman DB



The 2007 Schedule


A year ago Arizona had what eventually rated by the NCAA as Division I-A’s eighth-toughest schedule based on strength of opposition. This year that eases somewhat to No. 49 entering the year.


Rating aside, the Cats will face eight bowl 2006 teams starting with a road contest at Brigham Young. The Cougars lose a bunch of starters but have a huge head of steam, with 10 consecutive victories entering the year, including a Las Vegas Bowl win over Oregon. It should be a contest of two teams with similar offensive identities, the spread passing attack with some power added for balance.


After playing in-state rival NAU of the Big Sky Conference, the Cats close non-conference play with a Sept. 15 game against New Mexico, which lost a closely played New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque to Dick Tomey’s upstart San Jose State squad. Conference play opens against Holiday Bowl victor California on the road Sept. 22.


Other bowl teams from the Pac-10 include Oregon State (Sun), USC (Rose), UCLA (Emerald), Oregon (Las Vegas) and Arizona State (Hawai’i). WSU was bowl-eligible like Arizona at 6-6. 


Odds and Ends...


...UA finishes spring ball with 103 active players on the team. Fall camp can open in August with 105 student-athletes and UA expects some changeover in the walk-on group, possibly like the move last summer that brought running back Chris Jennings into the fold...

...The class breakdown in that group: 20 seniors, 20 juniors, 23 sophomores, 26 redshirt freshmen, 14 true freshmen...

...It’s not a bad time for patrons to pony up for season tickets, with UA “on the cusp” of something bigger, according to Mike Stoops. Last year the Cats drew the No. 2 average, 55,798, and also drew their largest crowds for USC (58,801) and Oregon State (57,113) games in Arizona Stadium. The USC crowd was the fourth-largest in stadium history. Those are remarkable testaments to fans’ belief in UA’s resurgence...

...Mid-year juco transfer Marquis Hundley has been impressive in spring ball at cornerback, but UA could have the luxury of giving him a full year’s training before putting him in action... No one is making any public guesses but if previous incoming classes are any indication a skill-position offensive player or DB could potentially make the playing rotation. Last year H-back Earl Mitchell and wide receiver Terrell Turner lettered as true freshmen, while defensive backs Cam Nelson and Devin Ross also earned spurs in their first years. It might be more difficult for new backs Nick Grigsby and Joe Reese or receivers David Roberts, Devin Veal or Williams Wright to make a move with the bunch of guys ahead of them having a full spring in the new offense. Incoming All-America JC linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka might be an option in his first season...

... Arizona’s academic support for student-athletes transferred to the University College rather than athletics department-appointed personnel in the past year. It’s a good change that should help shape stronger classroom performances by student-athletes, plus has helped the university reach a wider understanding of the challenges faced by multi-tasking athletes. It hasn’t freed coaches from responsibilities to help their charges achieve academic success, but it’s involved a broader group to manage and support the quest... 

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