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Arizona spring wrap-up

5/8/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

1. Golden at strong safety: Sophomore Robert Golden, a marquee 2008 recruit, probably would have become a good cornerback but he's got a chance to be special at strong safety. Because that transition went well this spring, Cam Nelson could move to free safety from strong -- replacing the departed Nate Ness -- with Trevin Wade and Devin Ross giving the Wildcats a strong combination at corner.


2. No doubting Thomas can be replaced: Whoever wins the quarterback job, he'll have plenty of capable guys to throw to, even with the departure of four-year starter Mike Thomas. For one, Rob Gronkowski might be the best tight end in the nation. Second, Delashaun Dean and Terrell Turner combined for 96 receptions and nearly 1,200 yards receiving last year. Third, William "Bug" Wright appears capable of being a playmaker at Thomas' slot position.


3. Got your 'backer: Sure, two of three starting linebackers, including leading tackler Ronnie Palmer, are gone. But the play during spring suggested that the Wildcats might be more athletic at the position in 2009, with Sterling Lewis, Xavier Kelley and Vuna Tuihalamaka. These three also will be helped by what appears to be a deep and talented defensive line providing plenty of cover up front.


Fall questions


1. Replacing Willie: While sophomore Matt Scott may have emerged with a slight lead over sophomore Nick Foles coming out of spring, the competition to replace quarterback Willie Tuitama is far from over. Scott is a great runner and good passer. Foles isn't a bad runner but is more of a drop-back passer. It's possible both could play in the first two games to sort out a final pecking order in advance of a visit to Iowa.


2. What's left at tackle? It's still not clear how the offensive line will end up, particularly at left tackle, where the departure of Eben Britton left a sizable void. JC transfer Jack Julsing might be the answer. Or the emergence of junior guard Conan Amituanai might allow Mike Diaz to move outside from left guard. If Phillip Garcia comes back successfully from knee surgery in the fall, he also could be a factor.


3. The next step: Winning a bowl game was huge for a program that's been looking to regain its mojo for a decade. But the question now is sustaining and building on success. Coach Mike Stoops believes a winning attitude is developing. The way to prove that is another bowl berth. And maybe a better bowl berth.