Saturday concluded the first half-week of football practice for the Arizona Wildcats and the session proved to be a very efficient for both sides of the ball.
The team appears to be coming together early and while there are some issues offensively and defensively that the staff will address over the next few weeks, the team seems to be ahead of schedule as compared to last season ago.
The quarterbacks both appear to be a step ahead of last season. Matt Scott and Nick Foles played a virtually even practice. Scott actually had more success downfield than Foles, but Foles was more consistent and accurate with his throws. The Wildcats look to be in good shape there for now.
The receivers are a deep and talented unit that bring a ton of potential to the table, but there are some issues. Several receivers dropped multiple passes Saturday and had trouble with the secondary.
David Douglas and Travis Cobb were the stand-outs for the day, but several other targets were able to step up when their number was called. Gino Crump, Bug Wright, and David Roberts all made big plays as well, but the unit as a whole appears to be a little on the rusty side.
The running game was utilized a bit less than the passing game on Saturday, but both Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin produced quite well when called upon. This is another area where the Wildcats are not void of talent or depth.
The defense actually looks like it's coming together quite nicely.
The defensive line gave the offensive line problems all practice. Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore seem to be too much for the tackles to handle and are making the jobs of Lolomana Mikaele and Sione Tuihalamaka much easier. It's probably the best unit on the defense.
The defensive backs have a lot to replace in 2010, but Saturday the young unit looked like a group of veterans. Freshmen Shaq Richardson, Josh Robbins and Marquis Flowers saw reps with the first and second teams on a regular basis.
Veterans Trevin Wade and Robert Golden have done a good job being vocal leaders on the field and both appear to be ready to take their respective games to another level.
The linebackers still need some work. There were some bright spots - Jake Fischer was all over the field and Trevor Erno laid a nasty lick on running back Greg Nwoko - but as a unit this group is struggling. The quarterbacks were picking apart the defense in the middle of the field and the running backs tip-toed their way around the linebackers.
The defense seems to be a step ahead of the offense right now despite the inexperience across the field. Co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown has obviously made a difference on the field and the players have responded quite well up to this point.
On offense there appears to be a little sorting out to do with the receivers. There is definitely talent, but the group needs to limit the drops, which can be drive-killers.
The positive across the board is that both offense and defense appear to be much more prepared to play football this year than any year in recent memory. Whether or not that continues to be the case will be figured out over the course of the next month.
Saturday Practice Report
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