Pac-12: Marcus Benjamin

Some pre-spring Arizona notes

March, 5, 2010
3/05/10
3:57
PM ET
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Will have a lot more from Arizona spring practices, but here are some notes and depth chart updates after a round of interviews.
  • Coach Mike Stoops said he still hasn't decided who will call plays on offense and defense. He said that he'll make that decision after evaluating his options during spring practices. Stoops lost both coordinators this offseason -- Sonny Dykes on offense and Mark Stoops on defense -- and replaced them with co-coordinators, Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell on offense and Greg Brown and Tim Kish on defense. Only Brown, who came from Colorado, wasn't already on staff.
  • Three key players will sit out this spring. Starting guard Vaughn Dotsy had back surgery on Wednesday. Running back Greg Nwoko is still recovering from a shoulder injury. Projected starting defensive tackle Dominique Austin is out with a toe injury.
  • While Nick Foles is the No. 1 quarterback, coaches are emphasizing that backup Matt Scott will play a role this year. And if he outplays Foles this spring, the QB competition will be on again in the preseason.
  • The Wildcats are replacing all three starting linebackers from 2009. Junior college transfers Paul Vassallo and Derek Earls are listed as the first-team "Will" and "Mike" linebackers, respectively. Jake Fischer is No. 1 at "Sam."
  • Joe Perkins steps in for Cam Nelson at free safety, while Marcus Benjamin replaces Devin Ross at cornerback opposite Trevin Wade.
  • With Austin out, JC transfer Jonathan Hollins steps in at defensive tackle besides nose tackle Lolomana Mikaele.
  • Richard Morrison has moved from quarterback to receiver.
  • With offensive lineman Adam Grant getting a sixth year of eligibility, he slides in at left tackle with Phillip Garcia opposite him on the right side. Colin Baxter is the center and Conan Amituanai is the left guard. With Dotsy out, Jovon Hayes, Chris Putton and Trace Biskin will get looks.

More Arizona notes from Stoops presser

March, 4, 2009
3/04/09
4:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

TUCSON, Ariz. -- First things first: Arizona's first spring practice Wednesday afternoon will be open.

Yippee!

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.

Thursday?

Anyway, how about this new, mellow Mike Stoops, eh? Bowl victories and new contracts sometimes have that effect.

Some notes:

  • 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.

Arizona's Golden moves from corner to safety

March, 4, 2009
3/04/09
3:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

TUCSON, Ariz. -- It looks like Robert Golden, a touted 2008 recruit, is no longer expected to become Arizona's next great cornerback.

That doesn't, however, preclude him from becoming a great strong safety.

In a move that coach Mike Stoops said will get Golden on the field as a starter faster, Golden will line up as the No. 1 strong safety Wednesday afternoon when the Wildcats start spring practices, a year after he saw action as a true freshman backup cornerback.

If Golden is bothered by the move, he didn't reveal any frustration to reporters.

"If moving me to safety is going to get me on the field, I'm all for it," he said.

Golden, who played in the U.S. Army All-American game after his senior year at Fresno's Edison High, had 13 tackles last year while backing up the departed Marquis Hundley.

But Stoops said they were comfortable with four other cornerbacks, returning starter Devin Ross -- second-team All-Pac-10 in 2008 -- backed up by Mike Turner on one side, and Trevin Wade and JC transfer Marcus Benjamin battling it out for the vacancy on the other side.

"We're always going to look to get our best 11 on on the field," Stoops said. "We'll see if Golden can adjust and adapt."

That means the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Golden will be expected to help more in run support and will be relied on less for one-on-one coverage.

Golden said he played some safety in high school and said he embraces increased run-stopping responsibilities.

"I have to come up and be physical," he said.

Golden is slated to play beside Cam Nelson, who returns at free safety.

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