Get Open ?- Get the Ball
Coaches: Darrell Wyatt, Dana Dimel
Clearly the most critical position on Arizona's offense in spring ball was receivers. “If you’re going to throw the ball maybe 50 times a game, you’re going to need receivers to make plays” was how head coach Mike Stoops put it.
In one spring scrimmage, 14 different guys at seven different positions caught 39 passes. It appears that catching the ball is catching on.
Junior Mike Thomas already has a track record that shows he’ll be doing so. With 102 career receptions he’s clearly been a talented focal point. Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes’ model could get him the ball at a strikingly more frequent rate.
But there’s keen competition among all four receiver spots, tight end, H-back and running back ?- all positions that run routes. One layman’s view of the spread is that the first guy to get open gets the ball thrown his way. That makes for keen competition both in practice and on the field.
Two reasons UA feels good about its development in the passing game is new passing game coordinator Darrell Wyatt and tight ends coach Dana Dimel. Wyatt spent the last 10 years working the throwing game at
Senior Anthony Johnson, juniors B.J. Dennard and Bobby McCoy, sophomore Terrell Turner and redshirt freshmen Terrell Reese and Delashaun Dean all have the skills to help UA’s corps spread the field. Tight end veterans include junior Travis Bell and senior Brandyn McCall, with redshirt freshman A.J. Simmons ready to contend. The H-back spot is solid with sophomore Earl Mitchell, junior Brandon Lopez and redshirt freshman Brooks Reed.
Incoming freshman tight end Rob Gronkowski is said to be physically ready and able to be a serious pass-catching option this fall.
Too, there's no question that spring practice has shown the running backs -- who caught eight balls in one scrimmage -- will be catching passes, lots of them.
B.J. Dennard Coach Dana Dimel
Dykes prefers to assign positions to the receivers and keep them there, so he and Wyatt have spread the corps out to fill various formation roles ?- such as “small tight end” like Anthony Johnson and a “small H-Back” like B.J. Dennard, guys who can start a series along with two other receivers and a big tight end, if so opted. Or, other combinations can work a formation for a more power-style play. There are lots of options with four or five guys as targets on any given play.
The Cats can use a leader type catching the ball. 2005 senior Syndric Steptoe had as much value in the locker room and sideline as his all-league, all-purpose ability on the field. Identifying one of these players to walk out for the coin toss would be a huge boost to UA’s adoption of the spread.
“We need someone to step up,” says Mike Stoops.
Wyatt adds another caveat, that receivers will do a much better job of down-field blocking in 2007 to help spring some big plays. “I guarantee it,” he notes.
Mike Thomas, 5-10, 178, Jr., 2L
Anthony Johnson, 6-2, 215, Sr., 3L
Terrell Turner, 6-2, 175, So., 1L
B.J. Dennard, 5-11, 194, Jr.-RS, 2L
Terrell Reese, 6-4, 201, Fr-RS
Bobby McCoy, 6-1, 185, Jr., 1L
Delashaun Dean, 6-4, 198, Fr-RS
Fall Recruits: David Roberts, 6-0, 175; Devin Veal, 5-11, 170; Bug Wright, 5-10, 170.
Travis Bell, 6-6, 245, Jr., 2L
Brandyn McCall, 6-5, 245, Sr., 1L
A.J. Simmons, 6-3, 255, Fr-RS
Matt Richards, 6-5, 256, Sr., 2L
Fall Recruit: Rob Gronkowski
Earl Mitchell, 6-2, 250, So., 1L
Brandon Lopez, 6-1, 224, Jr., 2L
Brooks Reed, 6-3, 240, Fr-RS
Position Notes... Thomas’ career receptions total puts him in shape to reach the Arizona Top 10 chart in the first game. He’s 12th with 102 He has to displace Andrae Thurman (105) at No. 10. CFL career leader Terry Vaughn had 109 at