Arizona football: Wide receivers, offensive line both strong

Based on scrimmage: WR, OL strong
2013-03-31T00:00:00Z 2013-04-01T21:52:09Z Arizona football: Wide receivers, offensive line both strongDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Rich Rodriguez sat down with his staff Saturday and popped in the film from the previous night's scrimmage in Phoenix.

How he feels after screening the tape will go in a long way to determining the coach's mood when the team reconvenes for practice on Monday.

Rodriguez hasn't been thrilled with his team lately and hasn't kept that a secret. What specifically is he looking for when he studies the film?

"If they're going against a young guy or a walk-on that ain't quite ready and they don't dominate, you wonder if this guy is going to be able to play," Rodriguez said. "I want to watch and see if they have gotten better from the first practice. Are they trying to do what we are asking them to do and are they giving great effort?"

We don't have the benefit of re-watching the film, but here are three things that stood out from Friday's scrimmage.

1. The team is loaded at wide receiver. Before the Wildcats held a single practice this spring, Rodriguez said his team's wide receivers had more depth than any other position group.

He hit that one on the head.

In Friday's scrimmage, Austin Hill, Terrence Miller, Tyler Slavin, Clive Georges, Trevor Ermisch and Trey Griffey all caught touchdown passes. Slot receiver Johnny Jackson had a strong scrimmage for the second time this spring, despite not reaching the end zone.

There were a couple of dropped passes in the scrimmage, one each by Georges and Jackson, but overall the performance was strong.

Another encouraging sign for the wide receivers is the chemistry they are developing with quarterback B.J. Denker. He may or may not be the starter in August, but it's clear the receivers are doing their part to make him look good this spring.

"B.J. played well," Hill said of the quarterback's performance in the scrimmage. "There are a lot of things we still have to work on like timing and holding the pocket, but I was real proud of him."

2. The offensive line looks strong. Another spot on offense where Arizona has a lot of depth is the offensive line.

Right now, the first-team has been tackles Fabbians Ebbele and Mickey Baucus, guards Cayman Bundage and Eric Bender-Ramsay and Chris Putton at center.

The combinations will surely change in the next five months, but Rodriguez and first-year offensive line coach Jim Michalczik will have plenty of options. Jacob Arzouman and Beau Boyster could also factor into the equation come August.

With uncertainty at quarterback, it's important for the line to be a strength in 2013 and it looks like it's heading that way.

3. The defense would like some of that depth. Denker played well in Saturday's scrimmage, tossing four touchdown passes, which is good for offense, but not so great for the defense.

The unit is obviously hindered by injuries this spring, but in Rodriguez's eyes, that's not totally a bad thing. He wants to be able to count on more defenders in his second season in the Pac-12 and would like to see some of the younger players getting a chance this spring to step up.

"What we're looking for are more guys we can win with on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense," Rodriguez said. "We did not play nearly enough guys last year. Ideally, we'd want to play 21-22 guys.

"Some of these guys have five spring practices left to prove we can win with them."

A pair of sophomores made a couple of big-time plays Friday that stood out. Safety Will Parks forced and recovered a fumble, and linebacker Keoni Bush-Loo came up with a sack.

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

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