Wednesday, March 4, 2009
More Arizona notes from Stoops presser
By Ted Miller
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
TUCSON, Ariz. -- First things first: Arizona's first spring practice Wednesday afternoon will be open.
When a reporter asked coach Mike Stoops after his pre-spring meet-and-greet with reporters whether practice would be open, he replied, "Yeah, sure. Whatever."
He then added he'd close things when reporters started annoying him again.
Anyway, how about this new, mellow Mike Stoops, eh? Bowl victories and new contracts sometimes have that effect.
- The pre-spring depth chart stacks the offensive line, which lost three starters, like this: left tackle Phillip Garcia, guard Mike Diaz, center Colin Baxter, right guard Vaughn Dotsy and tackle Adam Grant. As far as former starting center Blake Kerley, he's sitting out while recovering from a knee injury suffered last fall, and Stoops implied that he'll have a tough time dislodging any of the interior three. Stoops seemed particularly high on Dotsy, a sophomore. Grant is good to go after knee surgery, while Garcia will be limited this spring for the same reason. "This line can be every bit as productive as we had a year ago," Stoops said.
- Three JC transfers will participate in spring practices: offensive linemen Shane Zink and Jack Julsing and cornerback Marcus Benjamin. Benjamin will battle Trevin Wade to start at one corner, while Zink and Julsing likely will provide depth on the line.
- Former starting receiver Terrell Reese, who was suspended indefinitely last year, has been given the boot. Running backs Xavier Smith and Terry Longbons and defensive tackle Hans Philipp also won't be back in 2009.
- Stoops has high hopes for his defense, which welcomes back seven starters: "This is the best group that we have had coming back," he said. "This defense will be the most athletic we've had ... We have the potential to be a great defense."
- Two linebacker spots need to be filled. The first unit on the depth chart has Sterling Lewis on the strong side, with Vuna Tuihalamaka in the middle and Xavier Kelly on the weak side. Lewis started five games last year; Kelly eight. Tuihalamaka played in 13 games and recorded 23 tackles.
- The general theme with the quarterback competition between Matt Scott and Nick Foles was this: The runner, Scott, has a better arm than he gets credit for, and the same can be said for the mobility of the pocket passer, Foles.