Nose tackle Worthy expected to earn playing time

2014-08-04T21:30:00Z 2014-08-21T11:42:05Z Nose tackle Worthy expected to earn playing timeDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Wildcats put shoulder pads on for the first time this fall and now have three practices in the books.

After being happy with his team’s intensity following Sunday night’s practice, coach Rich Rodriguez wasn’t thrilled with his group tonight. He seemed more displeased with the offense specifically and didn’t want any offensive players talking to reporters.

It seemed his biggest beef was with the receivers.

“I thought the wideouts were below average,” the coach said. “So whoever anointed them as one of the best crews in the (country); I haven’t seen it.”

It isn’t all that uncommon for Rodriguez to single out a specific unit to try to get better production. Here’s betting the receivers have a better practice day tomorrow.

Some notes and quotes to pass along from the night:

• It seems like Jeff Worthy is the leader in the clubhouse for the nose tackle spot vacated by Tevin Hood. Worthy has been working with the first-team (which probably doesn’t mean all that much right now) and seems to be on track to earn a good amount of playing time.

Rodriguez’s thoughts: “He looks like he’s picking up where he needs to be. He’s a tough guy. He’s going to play. I hope Worthy can do it. I don’t know who else is there."

Sophomore Dwight Melvin, who is expected to compete with Worthy, suffered a concussion during Saturday night’s practice, and hasn’t participated since.

Rodriguez said he wanted “to wait a couple of days” to pass on an opinion on Aiulua Fanene. The 6-5, 303-pound tackle is still working his way back into football shape after missing the past two seasons on a mission.

• No surprise here, but Rodriguez said B.J. Denker was further ahead of where this year’s quarterbacks are after three days. Rodriguez admitted last month at Pac-12 Media Days that he exaggerated last year when giving Denker a hard time. So it’s hard to know if he’s doing the same this year, or if he really believes that.

The coach mentioned that Denker took coaching well and “hopefully these guys will do the same.”

There doesn’t sound like there’s been any separation at the position through three days. All four veteran quarterbacks — Anu Solomon, Jerrard Randall, Connor Brewer and Jesse Scroggins — have seen time with the first-team offense at points through the first three days.

• The two outside linebacker spots next to Scooby Wright are wide open. DeAndre Miller, Keoni Bush-Loo, Jake Matthews and Derrick Turituri have all seen time there and Rodriguez said there “are a few others.”

• An under-the-radar defensive player who seems to be having a strong start to camp is safety Tellas Jones. The sophomore from Miami can play multiple positions for the UA and has as good of athletic ability as any of the safeties.

His position coach, Matt Caponi, gave him high praise tonight: “Tellas Jones has a come a long way from last fall. He understands the defense a lot more. I think spring practice helped him a lot. He’s got all the physical tools. He’s the one guy on defense, you can see a burst out of him when he’s running. He gets to the ball. He has a lot more confidence this fall camp and he’s making more plays.”

He continued: “He’s a difference maker. He’s the type of guy you want on defense because he has that burst. We have to get him to go 100 percent on every play.”

Jones was a solid contributor on special teams last year, and had 14 tackles in 12 games. 

Caponi also spoke highly of senior Blake Brady: “We have another senior in Blake Brady; he’s a very good technician and understands the defense. He’s not going to kill you with his speed, but he gets the job done. He knows both positions (Spur and Bandit). Tellas helps us at Spur, and Blake is playing at Bandit, but can fill in at the Spur.”

That’s all for tonight. Thanks for reading. More coming tomorrow.

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About this blog

Daniel Berk began covering UA football in 2013 after spending two-plus years as the Star's high school sports coordinator. Previously, he served as the sports editor and NAU beat writer for the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff for three years.

A University of Kansas graduate and St. Louis native, Berk is still getting used to 350 days of sunshine, the relentless "dry heat" of the summer and the fact that Tucson doesn't have a real hockey rink.

Contact Daniel at dberk@azstarnet.com or by calling 573-4330. Follow him on Twitter @DSBerk.

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