Arizona held a scrimmage on Saturday. Read on to see which defensive players made an impression and more.
The defense had its moments on Saturday, but it also battled inconsistency, especially in the secondary.
The biggest hit of the day belonged to Blake Brady and it was one that probably scared a few people. Connor Brewer floated a ball right in the middle of the field and the pass allowed Brady to come over and completely lay Austin Hill out.
Some people may have been upset with what Brady did, but it definitely was not his fault. Brewer's pass is to blame and Rodriguez basically said as much after the end of the game. Still, the hit was a fun one to watch, especially knowing that nobody got hurt on it.
Jarvis McCall got the second team corner with Patrick Glover, as Derek Babiash played most of his time at safety. McCall has been steadily improving this spring, but we are guessing that his spot is a bit up for grabs. It would not be a surprise to see Rodney Carr come in and compete for time and it will be interesting to see what happens with Cameron Denson. McCall got beat on a few plays and while we would not call him a bad corner, we just don't think he is good enough to have a hold on his position right now.
The only real surprise among the starting defense was that Keoni Bush-Loo was the third starting linebacker with Philip Wright and DeAndre Miller. Our guess is that Bush-Loo is going to have to fend off numerous players, including Hank Hobson, Derrick Turituri, and Jake Matthews. In addition, Antonio Smothers could improve enough to play and Jamardre Cobb is absolutely going to make a run at it. Basically, there are going to be plenty of options at linebacker and it is Arizona's deepest position on defense.
Arizona's defensive line needs to improve in the sense that it just does not have a true pass rusher right now. Dwight Melvin has come a long way since last season and should get plenty of playing time. He was Arizona's main threat at nose tackle and it could be difficult for anybody to beat him out unless there is a big jump. Reggie Gilbert had a few plays in which he out pressure on the opposing quarterback, but it was not consistent enough. This defense needs someone to step up as a pass rusher and that is one of the main storylines to keep an eye on going into the summer.
Jourdon Grandon has really emerged as a leader of this defense. On one incomplete pass, Jared Tevis should have had an interception, but did not come back to the ball. Grandon ran right up to him and corrected him, which is something that he had not really done in the past. We know there wwere some questions about defensive leadership because Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers are gone, but guys like Grandon and Wright seem to be taking care of it.
It is going to be difficult for Tevis to hold off Will Parks and at the very least, Parks is going to see his playing time keep increasing. He is just more athletic and can cover a wider range on the field. Tevis is probably the smarter player, but smarts can only get you so far. That does not mean Tevis is bad, because he isn't. Instead, we just think the defensive potential is more likely to be reached with Parks on the field.
Tellas Jones may be a bit of a sleeper. He worked with the second team throughout the day and although he is raw, he can definitely hit. Last season, Jones was confused by the plays and speed of the game, so he couldn't get past special teams. This season, it seems he understands the game much better and is going to see his time increase significantly because of it.