Cats skip a day, so we evaluate

The Wildcat football team decided to take Wednesday night off in an effort to give the players a rest. With a number of dinged up players, the brief respite could do wonders as the Cats prepare for BYU in a little over two and a half weeks.

Since there was no practice to report on I thought I'd take another look at the various positional battles going on in camp.

Quarterback: Willie Tuitama continues to be heads and shoulders ahead of everyone else. Adam Austin has not been as sharp as season's past but a lot of that has to do with a patchwork line he has had to play behind. He is still the clear No. 2. Neither Tyler Lyon nor Kris Heavner have gotten a lot of work, but Heavner should get the nod for the No. 3 spot.

Running Back: It has been a close battle, but Chris Henry is still the starter and looks as if he will be tough to unseat before the BYU game. He has shown flashes of brilliance and has hung onto the ball. Xavier Smith is the primary back-up and should see his share of carries. Although the coaches will not say it publicly, it appears as if Chris Jennings is ahead of Terry Longbons, Glyndon Bolasky and Derke Robinson for the No. 3 spot.

Fullback/H-back: Every time it looks like Brandon Lopez may lose snaps to the freshmen he has a great practice. Lopez is the best runner, while he and Brooks Reed look like they can both be reliable receivers. Earl Mitchell is the best blocker of the bunch. All three should travel and all three should play.

Wide Receiver: Competition has been beneficial for the group. Syndric Steptoe and Mike Thomas have been great, while B.J. Dennard and Anthony Johnson have really stepped up their games of late. The three freshmen have not gotten a ton of passes thrown their way, but expect all three to factor into the offense this season.

Tight End: Travis Bell and Brad Wood have been limited by injuries, mostly precautionary, but should be the top-two guys this year. Both are terrific receivers and competent blockers. Brandyn McCall and Ryan Kilpatrick will see time in rushing situations. Expect freshmen Cody Anderson and A.J. Simmons to redshirt.

Offensive Line: The line has really been banged up but it is safe to say that there are eight or nine very solid linemen who have the ability to play. Daniel Borg, Blake Kerley and Bill Wacholz have been pleasant surprises. There will be a number of great battles heading into game week.

Defensive End: This could be a strength of the team. Both Johnathan Turner and Marcus Smith have stepped up their games in an effort to hold off Louis Holmes. Holmes has not dominated camp but has shown the ability to do things athletically that few men his size can do. Ricky Elmore has been a pleasant surprise. He will push Jason Parker for the fourth end spot and could work his way out of a redshirt.

Defensive Tackle: It has been a long time since the Cats have had depth at defensive tackle. The Cats have a legitimate seven solid defensive tackles on the roster. Paul Phillip, Lionel Dotson and Yaniv Barnett are all playing really well and Donald Horton is not far behind. Add to the group Conan Amituanai and Dave Bertrand and you have a really good mix. There is still an outside shot that Gabe Long joins the team which would further strengthen the unit.

Linebacker: Spencer Larsen, Dane Krogstad and Ronnie Palmer are quickly becoming a fantastic unit. Xavier Kelly and Adrian McCovy could have started for a lot of other UA teams, but no this one. If they stay healthy this group could be incredible.

Corner Back: Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot will have to shoulder much of the load early on, but the three freshmen are slowly getting better. Right now Devin Ross seems like the most likely candidate to earn playing time but Michael Turner is starting to get caught up after missing the first few practices.

Safety: Right now Dominic Patrick seems to have a slight lead over Nate Ness at free safety. Patrick is the better run stopper, while Ness has a great nose for the ball. Michael Johnson is the man at strong safety, but other guys are getting serious reps, including Michael Klyce. Marcus Hollingsworth is still the starter at nickel back but Patrick has been seeing some time there.

Punter: Kyle McQwon has the job as of now. He has been very impressive and has made great strides over the last year. Keenyn Crier has a super leg, but needs to improve fundamentals and consistency.


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