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Arizona football: Offense punishes defense in scrimmage

2012-08-12T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T11:27:19Z Arizona football: Offense punishes defense in scrimmageRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

FORT HUACHUCA - Rich Rodriguez dropped to his knees, braced himself with his arms and put himself in a push-up position.

The UA defense's lesson in humility was over. Now, the coach told his players, it was time to build toughness.

The Arizona Wildcats' offense scored on its first six possessions and defeated the defense 53-34 at Bujalski Field using a scoring system that rewarded big plays on both sides of the ball.

Starting quarterback Matt Scott was stellar in Arizona's first scrimmage of training camp, completing 16 of 18 passes for 193 yards and rushing for a 7-yard touchdown. Newly anointed backup B.J. Denker nearly matched him, completing 12 of 17 passes for 154 yards and two scores.

The offense posted 552 yards during the 92-play scrimmage; it didn't punt until nearly an hour into the scrimmage. The defense forced just one turnover - safety Marquis Flowers recovered a late fumble - and had just seven tackles-for-loss.

Despite the offense's numbers, Rodriguez wasn't happy enough with either unit to judge Saturday's workout - held in front of a few hundred active-duty soldiers and their families - a success.

The UA's first-year coach led his defense in push-ups following the poor performance.

"It was a very below-average scrimmage," he said.

When told that his no-huddle offense moved the ball well, the coach shrugged.

"When you don't tackle anybody," he said, "it happens that way."

In fairness, the Wildcats scrimmaged Saturday without two projected starters: Linebacker Rob Hankins and cornerback Jonathan McKnight were held out for precautionary reasons. Defensive lineman Kirifi Taula and linebacker Dakota Conwell stayed on the sidelines with various injuries, and Dan Pettinato - a projected starter at defensive end - left with an apparent leg injury. The unit was so thin that walk-on Shadow Williams played with the first team at middle linebacker.

The razor-thin depth was no excuse, linebacker Jake Fischer said. The defense played both soft and sloppy, and was called for a handful of pass interference penalties. The offense also stung the "D" for a handful of big plays.

Denker and wide receiver Tyler Slavin connected for a pair of 30-yard passes, and Scott found Terrence Miller for a 30-yard play. Miller led the team with 91 receiving yards on six catches, and Slavin (five catches, 68 yards, touchdown) and Austin Hill (five catches, 53 yards and a touchdown) impressed.

Rodriguez said the offense has had a slight edge through the first 11 practices of training camp.

"Usually, the more experienced unit is ahead of the other at this point in camp," he said. "That's certainly the case for us."

Said Scott: "I think it's going to be hard to keep up with our offense with our pace. We did good. We had some mistakes that we can improve on, and we can do that during camp."

The offense's dominance capped a few days of back-and-forth between the two units. The defense "whupped us" earlier in the week, Scott said, a fact that made Saturday's finish even better. Scott and his teammates watched while the defense did its punitive push-ups.

"The loser's got to do something," Scott said, a smile creeping onto his face. "You know?"

Extra points

• Arizona landed its 25th verbal commitment for 2013 on Saturday, when three-star defensive lineman Luca Bruno announced his plans to sign with the Wildcats.

The Scout.com recruiting service lists Bruno as a three-star recruit and the 39th-best defensive tackle in the nation. As a junior at Oak Park (Calif.) High School, Bruno registered 133 tackles and six sacks and forced four fumbles.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 282-pound Bruno chose the UA over offers from a dozen schools, including SMU, Fresno State and Oregon State. Bruno said Arizona fulfilled his three requirements: It plays "hard knocks" defense, has a superior weight room and strength and conditioning staff, and provides a great student experience.

"I felt the most comfortable there," he said. "A couple schools had one or two things that popped out to me; the UA brought all three of my things to the table." 

Bruno comes from an athletic family: His father, Frank, played fullback at UCLA from 1980 to 1982. Luca's mother was an all-state swimmer as a teenager.

"And now," Luca said, "we have a football player." 

Bruno and the rest of Arizona's recruiting class can sign national letters of intent starting in February.

• The NCAA has granted defensive tackle Tevin Hood a waiver that will allow him to play immediately. Hood spent the past two seasons at Duke (2010) and University of San Diego (2011). He joined the Wildcats as a walk-on in the spring.

• The UA players will participate in the Army's leadership reaction course today at Fort Huachuca, then return home. The team's next practice is scheduled for Monday morning.

Training camp: Day 9

At Fort Huachuca's Bujalski Field

• Temperature at start: 91 degrees at 5 p.m.

• Walk-on watch: Wide receiver Ademola Adeniran transferred to the UA last spring after spending the 2011 season at Avila University in Kansas City, Mo. The 5-foot-7-inch, 160-pound Adeniran averaged 26.5 yards per kick return as a senior at Phoenix North High School.

• The big number: 11. The Wildcats have completed 11 of their 19 scheduled practices in training camp. The team will return home from Fort Huachuca today, and hold an on-campus practice Monday morning.

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


Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 7 1 0 0.875
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
Cal 4 4 0 0.500
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