Arizona Football

Arizona football: Offense is ‘still a work in progress’

2014-04-23T00:00:00Z 2014-04-23T00:14:54Z Arizona football: Offense is ‘still a work in progress’By Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The scoreboard doesn’t always tell the truth.

Take this month’s Arizona Wildcats spring game for example. The final score had the UA’s offense beating the defense 58-37.

Fifty-eight points for an offense still trying to find a quarterback and replace an All-America running back? That’s pretty good stuff.

Except …

The Wildcats were credited with 58 points in a nontraditional scoring system that rewarded first downs and other positive plays. This wasn’t seven touchdowns and three field goals in a 60-minute game.

“I think we’re still a work in progress offensively,” coach Rich Rodriguez said after the spring game. “We’re making strides but still have a long ways to go. I saw some things that I liked.”

So the UA offense may not be 58-points-good, but there is some talent there.

Here’s a unit-by-unit look with spring ball now in the rear-view mirror:

Quarterbacks

In the mix: Connor Brewer, Jerrard Randall, Jesse Scroggins and Anu Solomon

On the outside: Nick Isham and Khari McGee

What we learned this spring: Scroggins went from afterthought to very much in the competition during the six-week spring session. He’s not the favorite at this point but is certainly a candidate for the starting job. Randall had an interesting spring. The coaches had different expectations for him than the others because it was his first time in the system. He handled it well and needs to have a productive stretch leading up to fall practice. Solomon and Brewer were up and down this spring but are both still in the picture.

The road ahead: Brandon Dawkins, a three-star recruit from Oaks Christian High School in California, will join the team in the fall. Solomon showed last year how hard it is for an incoming quarterback to grasp Rodriguez’s offense in such a short period. Look for Dawkins to be redshirted and the competition to be settled among Brewer, Randall, Scroggins and Solomon.

Running backs

In the mix: Pierre Cormier, Zach Green and Terris Jones-Grigsby

On the outside: Jared Baker, Jonathan Haden and Myles Smith

What we learned this spring: Not much. With Ka’Deem Carey out of the picture, and incoming freshman Nick Wilson not in the fold yet, it wasn’t a very eventful spring for the running backs. Jones-Grigsby got most of the work with the first team this spring, but that may not mean much. Cormier may be a step or two ahead of Green following their redshirt seasons, but both will be counted on for some carries. Baker is still recovering from a torn ACL, and Haden, a member of the 2014 recruiting class, enrolled early but was never able to practice because of an NCAA clearinghouse issue.

The road ahead: Wilson should certainly factor into the competition in the fall. A four-star recruit, Wilson should play as a true freshman the way Carey did in 2011. Wilson, Jones-Grigsby, Cormier and Green should all get chances to carry the ball early in the season.

Wide receivers

In the mix: Samajie Grant, Trey Griffey, Austin Hill, T.J. Johnson, Cayleb Jones, DaVonte Neal, Nate Phillips, David Richards and Garic Wharton

On the outside: Trevor Ermisch, Clive Georges, Johnny Jackson, Abraham Mendivil and Drake Pierre

What we learned this spring: A lot. Austin Hill appears to be close to 100 percent healthy and should be fully there by the time the season starts. Hill presents a mismatch in the slot and opens the field up for the rest of his teammates. We also learned Jones and Neal, a pair of transfers from Texas and Notre Dame, respectively, will have a big-time impact in 2014. Jones will be a weapon on the outside, and Neal’s speed and open-field moves will be a welcome addition for the Wildcats. Grant and Phillips should both be better after playing as true freshmen. Phillips missed most of the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery but should be fine for the season.

The road ahead: Four members of the UA’s incoming recruiting class are listed as receivers. One, Salpointe Catholic’s Cameron Denson, should make an impact right away. Denson will develop with Grant, Griffey, Johnson, Jones, Neal and Phillips, all of whom will be sophomores or younger next season.

Offensive line

In the mix: Jacob Alsadek, Mickey Baucus, Cayman Bundage, Fabbians Ebbele, Steven Gurrola and Lene Maiava

On the outside: Jacob Arzouman, Gerhard De Beer, Faitele Faafoi, T.D. Gross, Zach Hemmila, Austin Hyatt, Kaige Lawrence and Carter Wood

What we learned this spring: Alsadek is in a battle with Maiava for the starting right guard spot. Maiava seemed to have the upper hand entering the spring, but Alsadek had a strong six weeks and practiced with the first team for the majority of the spring. Both have enough flexibility to play guard and tackle, which is a plus for the Wildcats. Baucus, Bundage, Ebbele and Gurrola can all be etched into the starting lineup in stone.

The road ahead: The UA will welcome in three offensive linemen this August. Tackles Layth Friekh and Jordan Poland are both highly touted recruits who will have a chance to eventually take over for Ebbele and Baucus. Cal transfer Freddie Tagaloa, who was with the team this spring, will also certainly be in that mix in 2015.

Extra points

  • A couple of walk-ons are no longer on the UA’s roster. Quarterback
  • Adam Friederichsen
  • parted ways with the UA after spring drills. There are now six quarterbacks on the UA’s roster. Linebacker
  • Cole Ramseyer
  • quit the team after the spring game. He redshirted in 2013.

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.


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