Cats Strap Up Pads

Aug. 8, 2009

TUCSON – The Arizona Wildcats strapped on their shoulder pads for the first time at their third practice of the 2009 Fall Football Camp at Salpointe Catholic High School. While the drills remained the same as in previous days, the hitting was ramped up and the pads were popping throughout the two-hour practice that began at 7:30 a.m.

As one might expect early in camp, the offensive and defensive units have both shown flashes of excellence, but at times can also be inconsistent as players work through constant repetitions to dust off rust accumulated throughout the summer.

With the hard-hitting practice on Saturday, the defense emerged as the better unit, giving the offense fits throughout the day in team drills.

Brooks Reed, UA’s sack leader in 2008, turned the heat up on the quarterbacks in the team periods, recording a pair of sacks and supplying constant pressure with his fellow line mates.

The secondary flew to the football all morning long, making it tough for receivers to get position to haul in passes. Trevin Wade led the unit with a pair of pass breakups, while Cordarius Golston picked off a deflected pass to close the practice.

While big plays were few and far between for the offense, a pair of highlights mid-practice drew cheers from a crowd of perhaps 200 in attendance.

On the final play of UA’s 10-minute “blitz period”, Nick Foles danced around the pocket to buy extra time and launched a 45-yard pass down the left sideline that landed in the out-stretched hands of Juron Criner for a touchdown.

The team then opened up its 25-minute 11-on-11 scrimmage action when Matt Scott connected with Terrell Turner for a 37-yard throw-and-catch.

But the defense quickly gained its momentum back, with Reed picking up a pair of sacks against Scott in the next seven plays to go along with a sack by Ricky Elmore.

Offensively, Nic Grigsby returned to action just one day after rolling his left ankle in drills on Saturday. The Doak Walker Award watch-list member participated in all drills at full speed, serving as the offense’s top option on running plays throughout the practice.

Sophomore Keola Antolin and redshirt freshman Greg Nwoko also received a steady number of carries, with the running game showing some flashes of its 2008 form when the Wildcats rushed for over 2,000 yards.

The practice ended with a pair of “two-minute drill” drives, on led by Foles and one by Scott. Neither was able to move the chains, upsetting offensive coaches and head coach Mike Stoops. It’s clear that end-game situations will be a point of emphasis as the Wildcats seek to overcome the misfortune of close losses in recent seasons.

“A lot of football games are won or lost in the final two minutes of a game,” Stoops told his players after practice. “We’ve played a lot of close games and we have to get better in these situations if we want to win them. There are no excuses with what we do; we have to make the plays late in the game.”

The Wildcats will hold their fourth practice of camp on Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. The practice was initially scheduled to be held at Rincon Vista, but the team will instead hold the practice Salpointe Catholic High School once again.


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