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Arizona football: Master plan is evolving

Miller as tight end was good idea, but he's now wanted back at receiver
2013-07-31T00:00:00Z Arizona football: Master plan is evolvingDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Rich Rodriguez had a plan, and - for a while - it seemed like a good one.

The Arizona Wildcats coach wanted to use receiver Terrence Miller and his 6-foot-4-inch, 234-pound frame as a tight end.

It was a way to create a mismatch inside, using Miller's speed and athleticism and give the UA a new wrinkle on offense.

And then Austin Hill tore his ACL. A couple of months later, Tyler Slavin and Jarrell Bennett left the program, and David Richards had offseason surgery that is expected to slow him at the beginning of fall camp.

So what happens to the coach's master plan now?

"With our issues now, I don't know if we'll have as much flexibility with him," Rodriguez said last week at Pac-12 media day. "He'll still play some tight end and be inside a little bit. But he's probably going to be playing more outside receiver than we planned until we get some of those guys healthy."

Inside or out, Miller will now be counted on to be one of the top producers at wide receiver.

He has 55 career catches for 650 yards and two touchdowns. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native was granted a medical redshirt for his 2012 season after suffering a shoulder injury and then a foot injury, forcing him to miss nine games.

He's healthy now. The Star chatted with Miller about his senior year, the UA's depth at receiver and the competition at quarterback:

On what the receivers look like now after losing Hill, Slavin, Bennett and Miller: "We're still a strong group. We've never been a one-man room. But those losses definitely hurt. We could have used all of those guys. Now that it's not the situation, we have to step up and overcome. It goes back to Coach 'Rod's' thing of being comfortable versus uncomfortable. This is an uncomfortable situation, but I feel all right with it."

On some potential receivers that could step up: "I think everyone is going to love Garic Wharton and Johnny Jackson. They've been working hard all spring and summer. I wouldn't be surprised at all if those guys had breakout seasons. You saw flashes of it last year from them, but they're great athletes, who bring a lot to our offense."

On representing the UA at Pac-12 media day after recently being granted a medical redshirt for last season: "I think to myself when I have moments alone that this is a true blessing because I almost didn't even get to play this year. Getting to do all these interviews and represent my team, it's amazing I get to do this given the situation a couple of months ago."

On the competition at quarterback: "All of the QBs bring good leadership qualities. That's what really stands out to me right now. They've all been the guys before on their respective teams. They bring a great deal of leadership and athleticism. All of our quarterbacks are very athletic and very intelligent and hard-working. It's all the things you want in a Pac-12 starting quarterback.

"They all have the tools. It's going to come down to who the best player is, and we'll leave that in the coaches hands, and they'll get the keys to that car."

Extra points

• There's at least one outlet that believes the UA is going to have a better season than rival Arizona State. Bovada, an oddsmaking website out of Las Vegas, has the UA as a 15-to-2 shot to win the Pac-12 and a 3-to-1 shot to win the Pac-12 South.

The site gives ASU 9-to-1 odds to win the league and 4-to-1 odds to win the South.

UA's 15-to-2 odds are fourth-highest in the Pac-12 behind Oregon (7-to-4), Stanford (5-to-2) and USC (5-to-1).

• After being listed as a cornerback for spring drills, Jourdon Grandon is back listed at his natural position of free safety. With Patrick Onwuasor and Vince Miles leaving the program in the offseason, Grandon's move boosts the depth at safety.

On StarNet: Follow the Cats through the offseason on reporter Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe

Another big move

Thanks to injuries and players leaving the team, Terrence Miller will take his size and length back to the wide receiver unit.

6-4, 234

Height, weight

55, 650, 2

Catches, yards and TDs in Arizona career

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 3 0 0.769
USC 6 3 0 0.667 8 4 0 0.667
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 8 4 0 0.667
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 12 1 0 0.923
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 7 5 0 0.583
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 5 0 0.615
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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