QBs coach Smith: 'Bullets starting to fly'

2014-08-08T00:15:00Z 2014-08-21T11:52:24Z QBs coach Smith: 'Bullets starting to fly'Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Wildcats are already nearly a week into fall camp after completing another night workout Thursday night.

The next five to seven days will be incredibly important in regards to the quarterback competition. The UA has been in full pads for a couple of days now and as QBs coach Rod Smith would say: “the bullets are starting to fly.”

Coach Rich Rodriguez predicted this week that by the end of next week there would be some separation at the position. So for Anu Solomon, Jerrard Randall, Jesse Scroggins and Connor Brewer, now is the time to make a move.

Smith chatted with the Star about the quarterbacks and where they are. There’s some good insight in there, but I wouldn’t try to read too much to anything.

Solomon has clearly helped himself a lot through the first week. The redshirt freshman is drastically improved from last year, and needs to continue getting better as camp progresses.

Scroggins seemed to be the one to make a serious move in the spring, and after battling a little sickness early in camp, the senior has bounced back with a couple of strong days in practice.

Randall has shown flashes as Smith said, but needs to get more consistent during this crucial stretch. Brewer is still in it too, despite maybe being behind the others.

While the quarterbacks continue to battle it out, there’s plenty of other things going on with the Wildcats.

A sampling:

• Rodriguez said the UA is still figuring out exactly what it will do in the fall in regards to the NCAA’s new policy allowing unlimited food to athletes. Teams were always able to feed both scholarship players and walk-ons throughout the day during fall camp.

During the season, scholarship players were provided one meal a day, while walk-ons were on their own. Under the new policy, walk-ons should be taken care of, and instead of just one meal a day, Arizona may start serving breakfast as well.

“Once school starts, I don’t think it’s been determined what we’re going to do as a department, but the walk-ons can eat now on ‘training table,’ which is a big deal,” Rodriguez said. “We’re looking at providing breakfast as well. I think it’s going to be great. We have a great kitchen. We can feed our guys, and it puts a little more money in their pocket.”

So that’s something to keep an eye on once the season starts, and should make life a bit easier for the UA’s players.

• Rodriguez touched on the competition at running back.

Jared Baker looks fully healthy after tearing his ACL in November, and is still one of the fastest players on the team. Terris Jones-Grigsby is neck-and-neck with him, and freshmen Nick Wilson and Jonathan Haden are starting to get more and more involved with the competition, as is redshirt freshman Zach Green.

Rodriguez’s thoughts: “Jared is one of the fastest guys we got. Terris is one of the toughest guys we have. But they are going to be battled by some of the freshmen we have too, Nick Wilson, Jonathan Haden and some of those guys, Zach Green, a big guy. We have a pretty good competition going there. They got better today. I think Coach (Calvin) Magee has been rotating a lot of them in-and-out and I see them getting better.”

• Special teams coach Charlie Ragle said there isn’t a leader in the placekicker competition yet, but he’s seen a lot of positives.

The coach said he could see a scenario where the UA uses one kicker for kickoffs and long field goals and a different kicker for shorter field goals.

Ragle said Virginia Tech transfer Ethan Keyserling has an extremely strong leg, and his addition has helped returner Casey Skowron and freshman Josh Pollack get better through the first week of camp because of the added competition.

“I told those guys, six-seven practices in, we have some live legs,” Ragle said. “I think we’re going to see an upgrade there regardless of who it is. I think we’re going to be better in the kicking game. But there’s nobody that’s taken that step yet. All of those guys are kicking at a pretty high level right now. After seven practices, they’re getting tired a little bit. You can see the competition.

He continued: “The guys that we have added has elevated the competition. That’s a good thing as a coach. When you see guys competing, it forces everyone to be a little better. Right now, there’s no one standing out, but I’ll tell you by the time we finish and go into UNLV, we should be pretty good and pretty excited about our kicking game.”

•Here are a couple of extra Rodriguez quotes from the night:

On linebacker Derrick Turituri: “He’s a good pass rusher because he’s such a powerful guy. He bench-presses well over 400 pounds and he squats half the building.” Rodriguez said Turituri is still a linebacker, but like last year, could see some time as a pass rusher on the defensive line when the situation calls for it.

On the UA’s improved depth: “I think we’re deeper at some positions where we didn’t really have a starting group of experience. Now we have a little more depth at (line)backer, a little more depth at wideout, a little more at running back. We’re still not to the point I want to be. When we have seniors and juniors mostly on the two-deep backed up by a handful of freshmen, you know we’ve got experience and the program is where you want it.”

• Finally, an update on a couple of former UA quarterbacks. 

First, did you see this?:

Secondly, it appears Nick Isham has transferred to Cal Lutheran (subscription required, but you get the idea). It's his third college. The quarterback started at Louisiana Tech, transferred to Arizona and is now at Cal Lutheran, after leaving Arizona in the spring. 

He got a formal welcome from the school's president:

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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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