Rushing emphasized in scrimmage

All eyes were on the quarterbacks, but it was the running backs who stole the show in Arizona's first fall scrimmage. Wildcat coaches have been saying since last year that the team needed to emphasize the run and that is exactly what happened Saturday night.

Wildcat passers attempted just 23 passes, while runners had 47 rushing attempts. While this won't be the ratio in the regular season, it does show that Arizona is serious about improving the running game.

"We're trying to crank it (running game) up," said quarterback Nic Costa. "We came out here and ran the football. In times when we should have thrown it, he (Mackovic) was like ‘no we're going to run it because we have to work on our running game'."

The offense scored four times, and all four scores came on the ground. Mike Bell had the play of the game. On third and short, Bell rushed up the middle, found a hole and sprinted 56-yards for the score.

"I was just following the holes and doing what I need to do," Bell said. "It was a good hole and I only had to make one person miss."

Bell showed the open field speed he was praised for coming out of high school and was happy with his short day. The touchdown run was his last carry in a short night. The sophomore rushed three times for 67 yards.

"It's been awhile," said Bell who was limited with a toe injury last season. "It felt really good."

Most expected this to be a big showcase for the two Wildcat passers, but the scrimmage did little to name a starter. Ryan O'Hara led the team to two scores and Costa led the team to one, but neither did much to separate himself from the other. O'Hara was 3-6 for 57 yards. He connected on two deep passes to Lance Relford, including a 30 yarder that set up the Wildcats' second score.

The second scoring drive began at the 35-yard line. On first down O'Hara found Relford streaking down the sideline and hit him with a perfect toss. Three plays later Clarence Farmer went off tackle for a one-yard score. The play prior was possibly the best of the game. With the ball at the two Farmer tried to jump over the pile but was met by Joe Siofele in a mid-air collision that could be heard in the stands.

It was Farmer's first action against live contact since the North Texas game last season. The senior rushed nine times for 28 yards. It was his first carry that got the crowd into the game. He took a handoff around the right side of the line and viciously stiff-armed corner back Jason Martin before rumbling for 13 yards. Farmer showed little signs of the knee injury. He was able to cut and move side to side quite well.

Costa led the team to their third score. The offense got the ball at the 35-yard line and on first down Sean Jones took a screen pass 26-yards to the nine. Three plays later Costa showed off his speed taking a bootleg to the left pylon for a one-yard score.

Overall Costa was 4-7 for 69 yards.

The real go-to guy for the Cats was true freshman Sean Jones. With Beau Carr's academic status in limbo and Farmer's knee a question mark, the Cats would like to find a power runner they can go to on short yardage situations. Henry has the combination of speed and power the coaches love and they are giving him an opportunity to prove himself. Henry had 17 carries for 35 yards and a score during a goal line situation. It was a mixed night for Henry. He had five runs of five yards or more, but he also had three carries of minus three yards or more. Henry was plagued by some poor blocking and a few broken plays that led to some big loses.

Freshman Brenton Bolden had a nice debut in a Wildcat uniform. Bolden's first two carries went for 15 and 12 yards. After that Bolden cooled off, he finished the night with seven carries for 32 yards.

On the receiving end, Lance Relford had the big night. The senior receiver had three catches for 64 yards. Matt Padron had a pair of catches for 38 yards, both off the arm of Kris Heavner.

Heavner was 4-5 for 43 yards, but threw an interception at the 10-yard line. Linebacker Justin Stewart picked off Heavner's pass and would have taken it 90-yards for the score had the play not been blown dead. Lamon Means had the defense's other interception, he picked off a long bomb from Costa at the ten. Means may have been the defense's top performer. He led he team with seven tackles and saved a touchdown by breaking up an O'Hara pass at the goal line.

Richard Kovalcheck had a perfect night, going 5-5 for 33 yards.

It was a mixed night for the defense, they had trouble stopping the run early but after Bell's long run the defense stopped the next seven rushes for one-yard or less. The unit did have some trouble with offsides penalties, but were very effective at getting to the passer. Defensive players were credited with three sacks and had several other hurries. True freshman Lionel Dotson and Clifton Stanford had two of the three sacks, with Andre Torrey getting the third.


Costa 4-7-1 69
O'Hara 3-6-0 57
Kovalcheck 5-5-0 33
Heavner 4-5-1 43

Henry 17-35 1td
Bell 3-67 1td
Bolden 7-32
Harris 2-8
Farmer 9-28 1td
Jones 1-1
Costa 3-9 1td
*Sacks were not counted.

Eidson 2-13
Limon 2-7
Relford 3-64
Johnson 1-9
Harris 1-7
Padron 2-38
Williams 1-20
Henry 1-1
Panique 2-8
Jones 1-26

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