Aug. 15, 2008
2008 FALL CAMP - The Arizona football team was back at work on Friday morning for a two hour and fifteen minute practice. The Wildcats carried over the intensity and energy they showing in Thursday night's practice to this morning's workout, much to the liking of the coaching staff.
"We had another good day of work," Head Coach Mike Stoops told the team on the field after practice. "We had good energy today, but we need to keep improving our execution."
The spent the early portion of practice working on basic individual and unit drills, before coming together for a 15 minute "middle" drill segment. The defense did a solid job for the most part limiting the offense's big plays, but the offense still had its share of highlights.
The first highlight came off a play action call where Tuitama lofted a pass to tight end A.J. Simmons on a flag route for a 20 yard gain. After a Devi Ross pass breakup on the next play, Matt Scott let Xavier Smith take care of the work as the running back broke lose for a 30 yard pass play.
After struggled to find running room early in the drill, thanks to a good surge by UA's defensive line, Keola Antolin and Nic Grigsby were able to find some holes late. Each picked up five yard carries, with Grigsby adding another seven-yarder on the second to last play of the period.
Next, the team broke into its 7-on-7 skeleton passing period. Things looked promising early on for the offense, as Tuitama got off to a hot start completing his first four attempts. Delashuan Dean got things started on the first play with a 15-yard reception, before David Douglas snagged a 17-yard pass despite tight coverage from cornerback Robert Golden.
After a couple of short completions, the defense began to turn the tables. As Tuitama looked for David Roberts, Nate Ness jumped in front to knock the pass away. On the ensuing play, Golden got his hand on a ball intended for Terrell Reese. Tuitama finished 6-of-12 during the drill
Scott entered two plays later, but was picked off on his first attempt by linebacker Xavier Kelley. The offense continued to compound its problems as several wide receivers dropped passes thrown by Scott. Concerned that the unit was losing its focus, the entire offense of skill players huddled itself together as players verbally reinforced the importance of the drill.
Immediately after the huddle, Scott completed a 30-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski, then connected with Dean, one of the most vocal players in the offensive huddle, for a 10 yard gain.
Later, the team came together for its 11-on-11 team segment. Willie Tuitama completed passes on seven of his first 10 pass attempts. However, the defense committed what would have been an offside penalty and a pass interference penalty on two of three non-completion plays to start the segment.
With Scott under center, he quickly found Douglas open over the middle for a gain of 25 yards, then David Roberts for another 25 yard gain two plays later.
At the end of the period, the offense worked on its goal line offense with Scott getting the majority of the reps. The freshman kept the ball and ran for a short gain on the first play, then was intercepted by Nate Ness in the endzone after Cam Nelson deflected a pass intended for Roberts.
After the first two plays, Scott and the offense settled in. He hit Terrell Turner for a five yard touchdown on a wee-executed screen pass, then scampered five yards two plays later to pick up a touchdown with his legs. Two plays later, Scott went pack to Turner for another five-yard touchdown throw and catch.
On the second to last play, Scott looked to find Gronkowski on an endzone fade pass. However, the pass fell incomplete as Golden provided tight coverage - possibly too tight for a game. On the next and final play of the day, Scott went back to a flexed-out Gronkowski who was again covered by Golden. This time the tight end had inside position and hauled in the pass on a slant route for a touchdown.
The Wildcats will get the remainder of Friday off from practice. The team will participate in some team bonding activities this afternoon, including a Leadership Reaction Course and a combat simulation with U.S. Army troops.
Arizona will return to the practice field tomorrow at 9 a.m.