Defense Continues to Impress

Aug. 8, 2008


TUCSON- The fifth day of Fall Camp saw the Arizona Football team strap on full pads for the first time as the team got its first taste of full contact drills. The defense continued to show consistency while the offense continued to search for its rhythm.


During an early scrimmage-like segment, the offense put more of a focus on its running game. The carries were divided up between Nic Grigsby, Xavier Smith, Keola Antolin and Nick Booth. Antolin carried the ball twice for 14 yards, while Booth also had two carries and ran for 13 yards.


Willie Tuitama completed 3-of-4 attempts for 28 yards as the offense mixed up its play calling. Matt Scott, showed he can be a dual threat at quarterback, completing all three of his passes for 45 yards and carried the ball twice for a total of 20 yards.


The seven-on-seven skeleton period saw Tuitama hook up with six different receivers. He completed 7-of-10 passes for 68 yards. The longest play from scrimmage was when Tuitama hit junior Terrell Turner for a 30 yard gain on the left boundary. Scott struggled only completing two in seven passes for nine yards. He was also picked off by redshirt freshman Trevin Wade. Linebacker Ronnie Palmer was credited for breaking up a pass for the second consecutive day.


Later on in the skeleton drills, the offense worked on its redzone offense inside the 20 yard line. Tuitama was the only quarterback to take snaps and he completed all five of his attempts for 26 yards and a touchdown. Turner had two receptions for 10 yards and the touchdown grab.


The extended 11-on-11 period saw the defense with another stellar effort, forcing the offense to make unnecessary mistakes. The defensive line got good pressure up the middle forcing the quarterbacks to rush throws. Redshirt sophomore Lolomana Mikaele “sacked” Tuitama, while Wade broke up a pass in the secondary. Tuitama was 10-for-13 for 90 yards, but only one play went for more than 20 yards -- a completion to Turner for a touchdown. Scott was 3-for-3 for 21 yards and had one rush for four yards.


Next, the offense, in the white uniforms, looked to move the ball down the field in another scrimmage-like period. Starting at its own 25 yard line, the offense now had to execute on plays in order to more the chains. After having a pass broken up by Palmer and a “sack” from redshirt sophomore Brooks Reed, the offense was facing a 3rd and 13. Tuitama hooked up with sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski behind the safeties for a 66 yard gain. The offense could not punch it in the endzone and settled for a 32 yard field goal by redshirt senior Jason Bondzio.


Scott had his turn to move the offense, but went four and out in his first series. Smith had one carry for no gain and redshirt sophomore Ricky Elmore “sacked” Scott for a nine yard loss. The freshman fared a little better in his second series completing two passes in two attempts, but was not able to move the chains.


During the final series,Tuitama was 1-for-3 for 15 yards. The defense had another batted ball, this one credited to redshirt sophomore D’Aundre Reed. Again, the offense failed to move the chains. The highlight from this series – and perhaps all of camp – was when nickel back Corey Hall came off the right corner and nailed Grigsby in the back field. The “hit of the day” fired up the defense, which was already playing with a lot of intensity and passion.


The Wildcats will hold a closed practice Saturday morning. The team will then host an open scrimmage at Arizona Stadium at 6 p.m.




-          Saturday evening’s scrimmage is expected to include about 90 snaps and some special teams work.


-          Head coach Mike Stoops wasn’t pleased with Friday’s practice, mentioned to his team afterwards that they lacked intensity. He and the rest of the coaching staff hope that Saturday’s scrimmage will help re-energize the team as the players typically look forward to the “live” action of a scrimmage. Even in daily full-contact drills, whistles are blown quite early on plays, but in a controlled scrimmage tackling will become more of a focus.


“We have to keep gaining confidence on both sides,” Stoops told his players after practice. “We have to make sure we’re fresh and ready for tomorrow night.”


-          The battle for a backup to senior Willie Tuitama is taking shape. Stoops mentioned that Bryson Beirne and Matt Scott are in position for the No. 2 job. In Friday’s practice, Scott took significant snaps with the first and second teams, showing that he is making strides and will contend for playing time.


“We’ve been really impressed with Matt,” Stoops said. “He’s done some really good things.”


“He’s shown a lot of poise for having a limited number of reps,” Stoops added. “He’s shown great accuracy and an ability to get the ball out of his hand, and he has some running ability. He seems to be a great athlete.”


-          The football program has added Lamonte Long, a 5-foot-11, 197-pound cornerback to its roster. Long, who wore No. 31 on Friday, was previously at Arizona Western CC.




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