Arizona had its Spring Game on Saturday and WildcatAuthority.com takes a look at the players that shined and those that did not.
wrapped up spring football with its annual scrimmage on Saturday in Arizona Stadium. After impressive performances by the defense, the offense stole the show in its final showing before heading into the summer, winning the game over the defense by a score of 53-10. Granted, the scoring system for the game was quite obscure, but it was all about the offense on Saturday.
To no one's surprise, Nick Foles got the start at quarterback, and he was joined by Taimi Tutogi and Keola Antolin in the backfield. Dan Buckner and Juron Criner were the starting wide outs, with Jack Baucus lining up at tight end. From left to right, it was Mickey Baucus, Chris Putton, Kyle Quinn, Trace Biskin, and Fabbians Ebbele who got the starts along the offensive line.
For the defense, C.J. Parish and Mohammed Usman were joined by Sione Tuihalamaka and Willie Mobley, who was filling in for the injured Justin Washington. The defensive line was backed up by Paul Vassallo, Derek Earls, and Jake Fischer, who were the starting linebackers for the second consecutive spring.
In the secondary, Trevin Wade and Johnathan McKnight got the starts at corner, while Robert Golden and Marquis Flowers began the game at safety. McKnight presumably was in the game for the injured Shaq Richardson, who did not appear in the game.
Aside from Richardson and Washington, Drew Robinson and Eric Bender-Ramsay also missed the game due to injury. Robinson had his foot in a boot, and Bender-Ramsay is recovering from surgery on his right ulna that required one plate and six screws to repair. He expects to be back on the field in time for summer camp.
The offense opened up the game with a long ball to Juron Criner, but Trevin Wade was called for pass interference on the play. It was a relatively unexciting opening series, as Nick Foles connected on three of his five attempts for 16 yards. He gave way on fourth down to Jason Bonano and the kicking unit, who was well short on his 45-yard attempt.
Matt Scott came on in the second series and was a little bit more impressive moving the ball, as he made some impressive plays out of the pocket on his way to completing all four of his attempts for 27 yards. His drive was stalled however by a bad exchange between he and Daniel Jenkins, which resulted in a Jowyn Ward fumble recovery.
It was back to Foles for the third series, and he was a little bit better in his second series; completing three of five passes for 34 yards, including two passes to David Roberts good for 27 yards. The drive stalled however, and once again Foles gave way to the field goal unit.
This ended up being the most exciting play of the scrimmage, as Alex Zendejas came on and knocked through a 50-yard field goal with room to spare. Sarcastic or genuine, the crowd erupted in applause, happy to see Zendejas put it through the uprights.
For the fourth series, Bryson Beirne came into the ball game and completed all six of his passes for 55 yards, and capped his drive off with a 26-yard touchdown strike to Richard Morrison.
Not to be out done, Foles came back on and threw a touchdown pass of his own to Morrison, who made an impressive move to get to the end zone from 22 yards out. It turned out to be his last drive, as he was 11 of 16 for the day and totaled 133 yards with the touchdown to Morrison.
Later in the game, Tyler Slavin caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Beirne, giving the quarterbacks 380 yards and four touchdowns on the day.
What was most impressive about Foles' game was his willingness to leave the pocket. A criticism of Foles' game is his lack of scrambling ability, but twice Foles found holes in the defense and was able to pick up 20 yards total. Adding that dimension to his game will make him all the more dangerous as a quarterback next fall.
Foles gave way to Scott, who also led an impressive drive with 67 yards passing that resulted in a 36-yard touchdown pass to Buckner, who totaled three catches for 57 yards and a score. He is going to be a huge part of the attack offensively, as his size and ability to separate make him a deep ball threat on every down.
His counterpart Juron Criner was obviously the center of attention for the defense, as he only put up 26 yards on three receptions. The elusiveness and playmaking ability is still there for Criner, who should thrive in more single coverage opportunities with Buckner across from him
The most impressive receiver however was Morrison, who caught four balls for 63 yards and the two scores. He showed a tremendous amount of elusiveness and explosiveness with the ball in his hands, and a productive season out of Morrison from the slot would go a long ways for the offense.
The running game for Arizona was essentially non-existent, as Antolin carried just three times for 10 yards, while Jenkins carried eight times for 35 yards. Jenkins however displayed some versatility by catching two passes for 23 yards.
On special teams, Zendejas was successful on all three of his extra point attempts, and on his two other field goals, both from 32 yards. The scrimmage ended with a 45-yard attempt that was wide right.
Clearly there are many things UA needs to work on heading into the summer, as the defense was exposed for the majority of the day by the offense. The Wildcats will need to find some sort of run game before opening up the season September 3rd against NAU in order to open up space down field for the passing attack.
Another concern for the defense is the injury of Jake Fischer, who left the game with an undisclosed leg injury. He was helped off the field and could not put any weight on his injured leg, leaving an already thin position depth wise even more depleted.
With the mixed results in its final showing of the spring, there are definitely more questions than answers for this year's team. Luckily for Arizona and for the fans, the season doesn't kick off for another 139 days, leaving plenty of time for improvement.