Head Coach Mike Stoops was pleased with the overall effort of his young team after the controlled scrimmage and he should have been. When the offense flexed its muscles they were always answered by the defense flexing their own. So far the Cats' head man likes what he has seen out of his squad.
"Overall I thought it was a pretty good first scrimmage." Said Stoops after the scrimmage. "It was pretty clean. I thought we held on to the ball and made a few good runs. We forced the ball once or twice but we are pleased with the overall intensity. I think we went close to 90 plays. I think we came out healthy. It seemed like we had a lot of young players who need more reps and keep getting them more quality time in practice. We are further ahead than any other year, but we still have a long way to go. We have three weeks before we play."
Willie Tuitama was picked off by Michael Johnson as he tried to force a pass to Syndric Steptoe in heavy coverage. In a real game situation, it would have been up to Tuitama to make that tackle as he was the only guy between Johnson and six points. In the end it may have been a simple bad read by the still young quarterback as he had Mike Thomas streaking, and open, for what would have been a touchdown.
Overall, Tuitama was impressive, and Austin is showing that he is still the most capable backup on the squad. The offensive line needs to step up their efforts in this last week of camp as they were again a bit ‘off'. The offense is night and day better than at this same time a year ago.
The running backs were about the same as we've seen all fall so far. They have shown to be consistent but not great. The standout tonight was Xavier Smith as he showed great field vision and ability to run in between the tackles. Even though Chris Henry has done absolutely nothing to lose his job, Xavier is clearly catching him and the heat is getting stronger for Henry.
The defensive line again played well against the young guns of their offensive counterparts. The star of tonight's practice was no doubt Ricky Elmore. The true freshman racked up a good number of sacks before the night was over and he is putting some heat on the coaching staff, who would like to be bale to red shirt him. Elmore has a work ethic and an energy about him that is unique to a freshman as green as he is. He is still raw technically but his athleticism and his willingness to mix it up against anyone could easily earn him playing time with the unit in his freshman year.
Louis Holmes nearly had himself a pick, as he tipped a pass intended for a receiver near the sidelines. Holmes certainly has that "swarm" attitude, as he finds himself in the mix on nearly any and every running play. Whether a play is run to his side or not his pursuit in run support is very good and once he learns some pure pass rushing technique he could be the ‘special' recruit that he was built up to be. He is still very raw but is picking things up very quickly and is proving to be a very coachable athlete, which is somewhat rare for a junior college transfer.
The back seven of the Arizona defense should challenge for top billing in the history of Arizona Football if it can stay healthy. The linebackers and the defensive backs are everywhere and they are rarely caught out of position. Freshman linebacker Xavier Kelley had an interception and Brandon Tatum added one of his own and they are just two members of the depth in the back seven.
Arizona has not had the best placekicking over the past few years but senior Nick Folk is showing that the past is just that, the past. Before tonight's scrimmage started Folk was demonstrating how valuable he will be again this year. When warming up he was kicking true kicks from 70 yards and during the scrimmage he hit a 59 yarder that would have been good from 70.
Mike Stoops comments from after the scrimmage.
On Sophomore QB Willie Tuitama:
"Willie has played well. He is throwing the ball were he thinks he can make every play. You have to guard against that some times. Sometimes you have to throw the ball away. He wants to make every play and he is throwing the ball so accurately right now he has great confidence, but he has to make sure he doesn't make mistakes and start forcing the football. Overall he is really playing well. This is the best I have ever seen him play. He is a better different player than any time last year."
On the running game:
"We are getting better. You have to look at Chris Jennings, Xavier smith and Chris Henry. We have three quality running backs that we can really go to."
On the three freshmen wide receivers:
"The young receivers were fantastic. They were athletic and they have tremendous upside. Their upside is endless. We are going to keep working at it. We have a lot of the offense in. We have a lot of movement in. This will be a good learning tape for a lot of our young players."
"Mike and Devin have played exceptionally well in camp. They are very talented players. Those are two great cover corners."
Freshman back Glyndon Bolasky had a nice 12 yard touchdown run. So far through camp he is proving to be an asset in the backfield and may make everyone think twice about the perceived move to the secondary that many have him pegged for.