Friday, April 15, 2011
Spring concludes: Arizona
By ESPN.com staff
Spring game: Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET at Arizona Stadium
What happened: How to completely rebuild the offensive line and replace defensive ends Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore were some of the big questions for Arizona heading into spring. Things seemed to clear up fairly quickly. The offensive line looks like this: LT Mickey Baucus, LG Chris Putton, C Kyle Quinn, RG Trace Biskin, RT Fabbians Ebbele. C.J. Parrish and Mohammed Usman asserted themselves at DE. Still, there's still room for refinements, developing depth and perhaps some more competition. On the downside, the ACL injury for promising safety Adam Hall was a major hit to one of the Pac-12's strongest secondaries. Backup quarterback Matt Scott had an impressive spring, but the (optimistic) plan still is to redshirt him and bring him back as the 2012 starter.
What's ahead: The Wildcats offense will pass to set up the run, but it probably will just pass a lot with quarterback Nick Foles and the conference's deepest, most talented crew of receivers. It's hard to imagine the edge rush on defense will be as good as 2010, so it's likely a veteran group of linebackers will blitz more this fall. There's also some concern as to whether kicker Alex Zendejas can recover his confidence after a late-season swoon that included a handful of painfully memorable misses. Ultimately, the Wildcats season will turn on how well the young, inexperienced line performs. If it's more than passable, Arizona will be in the mix for the Pac-12 South title.
Spring stars: With backup running back Greg Nwoko going down with a knee injury, the Wildcats needed Daniel Jenkins to step up and he did. Parrish, a former H-back who moved to linebacker and missed last season due to concussions, was a pleasant surprise on defense, drawing raves from coordinator Tim Kish and coach Mike Stoops. The depth already was good at receiver but redshirt freshmen Tyler Slavin, Austin Hill, and speedster Garic Wharton might be good enough to push into the rotation. Baucus impressed coaches with his fiery attitude at LT. DT Kirifi Taula stepped up this spring and should add depth on the defensive line. Cornerback Trevin Wade, after a forgettable junior season that fell well short of expectations, has been focused and playing well. Still, sophomore Jonathan McKnight is touted as the team's best coverage corner. Redshirt freshman Jourdan Grandon could get into the mix at safety.