Aug. 12, 2008
TUCSON - The University of Arizona football team returned to Tucson High bright and early on Tuesday morning for its first of two practices scheduled today.
The story for most of Fall Camp has been the impressive play of the defense. Today, however, it was the offense that proved it is making strides and showed what can happen when things click in the system.
"The offense is getting a better rhythm running through plays," Head Coach Mike Stoops said. "There starting to get it."
For the seven-on-seven drills both quarterbacks, senior Willie Tuitama and freshman Matt Scott, were accurate and put up solid numbers. Tuitama finished eight-of-12 for 165 yards and a touchdown. The lone touchdown came on the first play when Tuitama hit redshirt sophomore Terrell Reese over the middle for a 6-yard scoring strike. Of the eight completions, Tuitama hooked up with eight different receivers.
Scott finished six of nine for an even 100 yards. The freshman completed passes to five different receivers, including a pair of completions to Devin Veal for 42 yards.
In a 10-minute 11-on-11 blitz period, the defense had a chance to work on its blitz packages, while the offense worked on picking up the blitz. Tuitama was six-of-eight for 52 yards. Junior linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka registered a "sack." Scott finished two-for-three for15 yards. Redshirt freshman corner Tervin Wade broke up a pass up field.
The Wildcats then spent the final 30 minutes of practice in 11-on-11 scrimmage action, although contact was kept above the waist. In the first series, Tuitama completed four-of-six passes for 14 yards. Sophomore Nic Grigsby had one carry for five yards, while unior Nick Booth also had one carry for four yards. The offense was able to move the chains for two first downs, but came up short when junior corner Devin Ross broke up a pass on a third and short, which would have given the offense another first down.
On the third series, the offense showed what it is capable of doing by moving the chains and capitalizing in the red zone. On the drive, Tuitama was a perfect five-for-five for 51 yards and a touchdown. The score came on second and goal when Tuitama hit sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski for a nine yard touchdown.
Scott entered on the next series and his unit struggled to move the chains. For his first series he completed one-of-two pass. Ross again broke up a pass and Tuihalamaka and redshirt freshman D'Aundre Reed each were credited for a half "sack".
For the next three series, Scott was running the show but the offense failed to convert any first downs. In these three series, Scott completed four-of-seven passes, but none over five yards. Scott did manage to have two rushes for seven yards.
In the final moments of the team period, the offense focused on the two minute drill. Tuitama again took the reins of the offense and finished two-for-four for 17 yards. Redshirt sophomore Delashaun Dean had both receptions. The offense completed two first downs, but was unable to get in scoring position before the clock expired.
The Wildcats will hold the second of two practices at 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening. The evening workout will be held at the Rincon Vista complex, located on 15th Street just east of Plumer Ave.
NOTES AND QUOTES
- Free safety Nate Ness was sidelined again on Tuesday, but that did not mean he has taken an inactive role. Ness, who tallied five picks in 2007, has assumed a valuable senior leadership role serving as an extra coach during drills. In the last two days of practice, he has been active in communicating and instructing UA's other secondary members. He has spent considerable one-on-one time each of the last two days with Anthony Wilcox, who has been filling in at the free safety spot.
- "We're trying to build some depth in the secondary," Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops said. "Last year, we had some new guys in the middle (safeties) that were inexperienced. But this year, we have some experience up the middle at middle linebacker and at the safety spots. It's important to have experience at those core positions in the midde of your defense. "
- "Nate and Cam Nelson are very close," Mark Stoops said about UA's starting safeties. "They play well together and watch a lot of film together. You could see that today with Nate out, Cam was playing next to a new guy and missed a couple assignments. Cam needs tos to take complete charge and he was doing that towards the end of practice."
- "Marquis Hundely is playing very well and he is a very good player," Mark Stoops said when asked about the cornerback position. "Robert Golden is a very good player, too. We are looking to get him on the field a bit more in some nickel packages to see what he can do."