Defense Controls First Scrimmage
Aug. 15, 2009
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. – The Arizona Wildcats held their first open scrimmage of their 2009 Fall Camp on Saturday evening in front of a crowd in excess of 600 at Buena High School, with the defense once again staking claim as the premier unit after 10 days of practices.
From the onset, Arizona’s offense struggled to find consistency as quarterbacks Matt Scott and Nick Foles split the majority of the snaps throughout the 95-play scrimmage. With both sophomore signal callers rotating in the first three series, the offense started with two four-and-outs and a three-and-out before having any success moving the football.
That success came with Scott on the fourth series as the offensive unit looked to establish the ground game. But after three first downs, Scott tried to improvise on a broken play by rolling out of the pocket and was intercepted by Mike Turner.
The play summarized the overall offensive performance quite well as the Wildcats were able to move the football – mostly on the ground – at times, but couldn’t put together a series of big plays to set up a score.
“Offensively, we struggled to find any rhythm,” said head coach Mike Stoops afterwards. “The first scrimmage is usually a little rough for the offense and we’re struggling to get all of our personnel on the field because we’re a little banged up right now.”
Foles was the top passer, completing 10-of-15 attempts for 97 yards, including a late touchdown pass. Scott connected on just 10-of-18 attempts for 78 yards, while Bryson Beirne led a late scoring drive as he completed five-of-seven passes for 38 yards.
While the passing game was inconsistent, the rushing attack was effective most of the night. The Wildcats racked up 221 yards on 46 carries, led by the rushing trio of Nic Grigsby, Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko. Nwoko led the way with 62 yards on 11 caries, while Antolin picked up 55 yards on eight rushes. Grigsby added 31 on eight carries.
That rushing success put UA in scoring position several times, but the stingy defense turned back a handful of drives that resulted in missed field goals. Alex Zendejas missed all three of his attempts, including tries from 52, 44 and 46 yards.
The defense was led by junior defensive end Ricky Elmore who tallied seven tackles and recorded a pair of sacks. Fellow defense ends Brooks Reed and Apai Tuihalamaka broke up passes, while interior lineman Lolomana Mikaele also added a sack.
The Wildcats offensive attack was unable to put a point on the board through its first 11 series as the defense proved to be too tough even through its second and third string units.
Foles finally put the offense on the board with a five-yard scoring strike to Juron Criner on the 12th offensive drive. Foles completed four-of-five passes for 37 yards on the drive, while Nwoko picked up 25 markers on four carries.
Beirne was given the controls for the final two drives, leading the Cats to a score on the final play as he connected with Kylan Butler on a four-yard pass play. The score was set up by a bizarre 60-yard play that saw Travis Cobb fumble following a 15-yard reception. Cordarius Golston recovered the fumble that was forced by Anthony Wilcox, but Golston later lost possession and Shawn Trowbridge picked it up and ran 27 yards to the 10-yard line.
That was one of the few plays that didn’t go the way of the guys in the blue jerseys on defense. Otherwise, they held the offense to just two scores on 14 possessions, while forcing four three-and-outs and two four-and-outs.
The Wildcats will take Sunday off to participate in a variety of team-building activities in their final day at Fort Huachuca. On the agenda are morning and afternoon sessions in which the team will split into groups to go through Leadership Reaction Courses and a combat simulation with U.S. Army soldiers.
Arizona will resume its fall camp practice schedule on Monday evening as it hold its 12th practice of camp at Rincon Vista.
Offensive Statistics (top performers)
Team: 25-40-213-2-1; Foles: 10-15-97-1-0; Scott: 10-18-78-0-1; Beirne: 5-7-38-1-0
Team: 46-221; Nwoko: 11-62; Antolin: 8-55; Grigsby 8-31; Booth: 2-19
Turner: 5-45; Roberts: 4-25; Peace: 3-44; Criner: 3-25 (TD); Miller: 3-22; Cobb: 2-22; Douglas: 2-10; Butler: 1-4 (TD)
Defensive Statistics (unofficial)
Elmore – 7; Ross – 6; Perkins – 6; Young – 6; Benjamin – 5; A. Hall – 5; Kelley – 4; D. Reed – 4; Parish – 4; Turner – 4
Elmore – 2; Mikaele – 1
V. Tuihalamaka – 1; A. Tuihalamaka – 1; Young – 1; B. Reed – 1; Fischer – 1
Wilcox - 1