Friday A.M. Practice Report: Defense wins

By just looking at the weather you could hardly tell it was Tucson. The air was cool, the sky cloudy and by the end of practice there was a nice drizzle coming down. Arizona may be in preseason practice, but all of the heat associated with it was missing. The players seemed to enjoy the weather, especially the defense, which got the best of the offense.

"One practice the offense has the upper hand and the next practice it's the defense," said John Mackovic. "I think that is better than if one side always has the upper hand."

The Cats finished practice with their usual 11-on-11 team drills, except they finished the drill in the scoring zone, inside the 25-yard line. It was here that the defense excelled. The defense did not allow a score and forced one turnover. The offense struggled to pick up the wide variety of blitzes employed by the defense and Wildcat quarterbacks struggled under pressure.

Ryan O'Hara had a tough day. He was just 1-11 for five yards and threw an interception to Tony Wingate. The freshman passer was flushed on just about every attempt and three of his incompletions were balls he was forced to throw away. The defense got to him twice, and his receivers dropped a pair of passes.

Nic Costa was not a lot better. Costa was 3-3 at the start of the drill, but went just 2-3 for 15 yards inside the 25 and was sacked four times. Neither passer was able to move the team and the most effective player was Mike Bell, who had a couple of nice gains.

Both passers looked much better in the 7-on-7 drills. With time to pass the quarterbacks were much more effective. O'Hara was a perfect 6-6 for about 50 yards. Biren Ealy and O'Hara continue to be on the same page. The pair connected three times and Ealy continues to impress with his ability to adjust to the ball.

Costa was okay as well. He kept going to the short passing game and was 3-6 for 20 yards. On a negative note he was picked off in the flat by Luis Nunez.

The defensive backs really were the story all day long. Nunez had the pick and a great pass break-up on a long ball. Wingate had a pick and a breakup and Michael Jolivette batted away a sure touchdown pass.


*Phil Clark is still out with a mild concussion. He feels fine and should return today.

*The team is still awaiting grades for Beau Carr, David Sharp and Andrae Thurman. Carr's status was expected to be known as early as today, while Sharp and Thurman could take several days.

*Zeonte Sherman had a field goal block during special teams work.

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