Aug. 19, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. - As the Arizona football fall camp winds down, things are starting to take shape across the board for the Wildcats with just over two weeks left before the season opener at Toledo.
It has been well documented that UA's offense, which returned eight regular starters from a season ago, has held the upper hand throughout much of camp. But after struggling in the team's first two scrimmages of camp, the Wildcat defense has begun to take shape and is showing signs that it is ready to take on the stiff competition that fills UA's schedule this season.
In a controlled scrimmage on Wednesday night at the Jimenez Practice Facility, it was the defense that set the tone early with a three-and-out on the first series. While the offense managed to score on its next drive, the defense held up in the red zone and forced a 25-yard field goal, which was converted by Alex Zendejas.
Matt Scott led the offense down the field on the next drive for a touchdown, which was capped by a one-yard plunge by Greg Nwoko. The defense had held strong on the first two plays from inside the five-yard line, forcing a third-and-goal from the one before the score.
The defense held stronger on the next several drives, forcing a quick stop and then a long field goal attempt. An offside penalty on a successful 42-yard field goal was accepted by the offense, but the drive continued to stall. Zendejas kicked a 25-yarder to cap the drive.
Later, the defense turned in the biggest plays of the day. Defensive tackle Willie Mobley turned back a rush attempt into a three-yard loss on first down before end Apai Tuihalamaka sacked quarterback Matt Scott for another loss.
With the offense behind the chains and facing third-and-long, safety Adam Hall picked off a Scott pass over the middle intended for Terrence Miller. The sophomore returned the interception up the right sideline, then cut through a crowd of players in the middle of the field before heading all the way to the left sideline and eventually into the end zone for a 60-plus yard return.
The offense added a second touchdown later on a five-yard pass from Scott to freshman Tyler Slavin. But that was all the scoring in the scrimmage.
Safety Joseph Perkins turned in a steady second half of the scrimmage, collecting a sack and breaking up a couple passes. Fellow safeties Marquis Flowers and Mark Watley, along with corner Robert Golden, also broke up passes on the evening.
The Wildcats returned to the Rincon Vista Complex for a workout on a warm and muggy Thursday morning. Coaches and players were upbeat and workmanlike as camp has just three days remaining. Game-specific preparations for the Sept. 3 game at Toledo will begin on campus next week.
Head Coach Mike Stoops mentioned that coaches have started to narrow down the players who will fill out the depth chart. When asked by reporters, Stoops identified four freshman that are likely to see considerable playing time, including Flowers, Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight on defense and Slavin on offense.
Arizona will practice at the Rincon Vista Complex at 8:15 a.m. on Friday morning. Camp activities will conclude on Saturday evening inside Arizona Stadium for the annual "Meet the Team" night, which begins at 6 p.m.