Monday, April 1, 2013
Weekend practice report
By Ted Miller
Arizona invaded Arizona State territory for a scrimmage in Phoenix on Saturday, but the big news this week in the Pac-12 is just about everyone enjoying the thrills and chills of spring practices.
Oregon State starts spring drills today, while Stanford begins its second session. Colorado and Washington begin their second session on Tuesday, while Oregon and UCLA get started.
With only California already done, 11 Pac-12 teams will be practicing this week.
Some highlights from the weekend.
B.J. Denker boosted his standing in the Wildcats QB competition with four touchdown passes and an interception in the scrimmage. His scoring tosses went for 18 (Terrence Miller), 12 (Austin Hill), 25 (Tyler Slavin) and five (Clive Georges) yards.
All-American running back Ka'Deem Carey only had one carry for 12 yards.
The scrimmage lasted 60 plays and 90 minutes at Phoenix College, and the defense won the evening.
Coach Rich Rodriguez seemed to think the Wildcats' second scrimmage was better than the first.
“I think we were better defensively," he said. "We applied more pressure. Offensively, there are some execution things. But, offensively, I was a little disappointed overall. Our tempo wasn’t as good as it can be.”
As for Denker, Rodriguez said: “He’s taking charge a bit, being a bit more vocal. He has played better in other scrimmages than he did in this one. He was off a little bit in some respects; some of it wasn’t his fault. He’ll keep working to get better because it’s important to him.”
Arizona State Sun Devils
The Sun Devils had a scrimmage Saturday but it was closed to the media.
USC held a 52-play scrimmage at the Coliseum on Saturday, with quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek both playing well.
Kessler completed 5 of 9 for 99 yards and two scores. Wittek completed 3 of 5 for 84 yards and a score.
True freshman running back Justin Davis had 54 yards on 11 carries with two TDs, while Javorious Allen had 71 yards on 13 carries.
The best news might be the receivers, who are looking to bolster the depth behind injured All-American Marqise Lee. Nelson Agholor continued a strong spring, catching four passes for 93 yards with two TDs -- one going for 58 yards from Kessler -- while Victor Blackwell had a 25-yard TD and George Farmer hauled in a 47 yards pass.
The defense was led by J.R. Tavai with three tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks.
Utah didn't have an "official" scrimmage on Saturday but it saw plenty of live action, according to reports, with the offense under new co-coordinator Dennis Erickson shining with big runs and big catches.
"Only six practices in, I couldn’t be more pleased," coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters.
Whittingham also said the offensive line continues to be one of the stars of spring. Of course, part of that could be due to a banged up defene.
The Cougars saw young receivers make a mark over the weekend, many of those Gabe Marks.
(You see what we did there, right?)
Marks, a sophomore, made play after play, according to reports, and undersized freshman receiver Robert Lewis continues to showcase his A-list speed and quickness.
Another worthy note. The Cougars had a 2.66 fall semester grade-point average, the highest since the school began tracking such marks in 1980. That produced this quote from coach Mike Leach:
“Happy about it, but we talked about this: if everybody got one grade higher, if the whole group got one grade higher, we’d probably lead the nation. That’s more within striking distance than a person would think. I’ve been a part of it three times. If you get somewhere between 2.9 and 3.0, 3.0 and change, you’ll lead the nation in the public institutions. The privates? Who knows what kind of mischief they’re up to. I mean, they hide their books and everything else, so they’d probably be a little more forthcoming if they weren’t hiding something. So I think they warrant suspicion.”