Fall Camp: Day One

Arizona began the next step to the 2007 season when fall camp opened. The Cats were out at Rincon field and it gave another chance to see the new Wildcat offense and learn more about the team.

Unlike most of the Mike Stoops era, the first practice went on without a hitch. There was no inclement weather, in fact, it was a beautiful evening out at Rincon field.

It was a fairly typical practice in terms of set-up. Individual position drills opened the day and then all of the offensive players got in one group and all of the defensive players got into another group to work on various schemes and formations.

After a brief break it was time for the 7-on-7's and then the 11-on-11 drills. Without pads, it is tough to get an accurate gauge on yardage, but you could get a pretty good indication on what the offense was running and how well the defense was reacting.

Let's look at the practice position by position:

Quarterback:

Willie Tuitama got the bulk of the reps, which is no surprise. What may surprise some was that Kris Heavner did indeed enter camp as the team's No. 2 quarterback. I had heard a lot of talk indicating that Heavner was indeed leapfrogging Tyler Lyon, but this confirmed it.

Unofficially Tuitama was 9-15 in the 11-on-11 drill. Most of the passes were short, but he did complete a few long ones, including one deep on the right sidelines to Delashaun Dean. Dean got behind the corner and no safety came to help and Dean hauled in the pass, but stumbled after taking a few steps.

"I made one or two bad reads but we had no fumbles and no picks," said Tuitama. "Going into the first day of camp that is really important to us."

The best pass of the night for Tuitama actually came in the 7-on-7 ‘skelly' drill. Terrell Turner became isolated on a safety over the middle and Tuitama fired a bullet to Turner which he hauled in behind the defense.

Kris Heavner took just five snaps, completing one of two passes. His completion was a bullet to Michael Turner who made the tough catch in the midst of several defenders.

Running Backs:

Chris Jennings is clearly the number one running back. Although the Cats really rotated their backs in the early drills, by the time they got to the 11-on-11 drills, Jennings was getting at least 2/3 of the carries, with Xavier Smith getting the rest.

"We both have skills," Jennings said of he and Smith. "I'm not trying to be conceited but we have skills. Me and him we compete, as well as all the other running backs. We feed off each other. We have to compete. If somebody does something, you have to come back and do something better and go the extra mile."

The offense is clearly pass based. Of the plays run during 11-on-11 drills, about 60% were passes, but running backs touched the ball nearly 50% of the time when you factor in screens.

"When we do it is going to be nice," Jennings said. "I mean it is so good you spread everybody out of the box. You don't know what we are going to hit them with. I love this offense."

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

No position saw more players run in and out of the line-up than the wide outs. This may have been a product of the camps setting, but I get the feeling that it could be norm in the spread.

By my count, nine different receiver caught balls in the 11-on-11 drills, with only Anthony Johnson catching more than one pass.

Terrell Reese made a tough leaping catch, while Johnson had to make a very difficult grab on a poorly thrown screen pass.

Maybe the best news was there was just one drop and, that too, was a high, hard pass over the middle.

Offensive Line:

It is tough to get an accurate gauge on the offensive line without players being in pads. Like the receivers a lot of players were shuffled in and out of the line-up.

The starting initial first grouping was Eben Britton (RT), Joe Longacre (RG), Blake Kerley (C), James Tretheway (LG) and Daniel Borg (LT).

Defensive Backs:

Maybe the big not was that Michael Klyce worked with the first team, but a lot of players were moving in and out of the defensive backfield.

It was a good showing by Devin Ross who broke up two passes in the 11-on-11 drills.

Special Teams:

Keenyn Crier and Tim Egger are competing for the punting job, but so far it is not much of a competition. Crier was very consistent, the most consistent I have seen him, while Egger was having his share of problems.

Seven players took turns fielding punts. B.J. Dennard, Mike Thomas, Antoine Cason, Michael Turner, Nicolas Grigsby, William Wright and Ross.


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