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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Stoops sets starters for season opener

    The offensive line will look slightly different this season compared to the group pictured here in a 20-16 loss to Stanford on Oct. 15 in Arizona Stadium. Redshirt freshman Eben Britton takes over for redshirt senior Tanner Bell at right tackle, but junior left tackle Peter Graniello will be protecting quarterback Willie Tuitamas blind side for the second consecutive year.
    The offensive line will look slightly different this season compared to the group pictured here in a 20-16 loss to Stanford on Oct. 15 in Arizona Stadium. Redshirt freshman Eben Britton takes over for redshirt senior Tanner Bell at right tackle, but junior left tackle Peter Graniello will be protecting quarterback Willie Tuitama’s blind side for the second consecutive year.

    It’s here.

    Game week is upon Arizona football for the first time in seemingly forever.

    With all the buildup surrounding UA head coach Mike Stoops’ program this summer, the last eight months have felt more like eight years for some as the team steamed toward its season opener Saturday against Brigham Young.

    “”Everyone’s way more excited; they’re ready to see good things,”” said junior linebacker Spencer Larsen. “”And it’s not NAU. Normally, we’ll open up with NAU – and that’s exciting, but it’s still a (Division I-AA) school, and not quite a BYU.””

    Said junior cornerback Wilrey Fontenot: “”We’ve been through summer workouts and two-a-days… Now, it’s actually time for the games to start.

    “”This is what you actually work for the whole year,”” he said, “”and now we’re ready to see what we’ve done, and how it’s benefited us.””

    Besides, they’ll get to hit someone whose helmet bears a logo other than their own.

    “”You get tired of seeing the same faces and the same guys doing the same cheap stuff to you,”” Larsen said. “”You just get tired of that.””

    Starters set

    Along with game week came the near-finalization of the depth chart.

    During his weekly press conference yesterday, Stoops announced that junior Dominic Patrick had won out over sophomore Brandon Tatum in the battle to replace former team captain Darrell Brooks at the free safety position.

    The offensive line is also set. The only real surprise came at the right tackle spot, where redshirt freshman Eben Britton won out over redshirt senior Tanner Bell.

    “”His future is unlimited,”” Stoops said of Britton. “”He’s one of the best redshirt freshman offensive lineman out there. He’s a tremendous talent.””

    Junior Peter Graniello maintained his starting spot at left tackle, as did redshirt senior center Erick Levitre.

    Senior Adam Hawes and sophomore Joe Longacre will man the guard spots. Both saw duty there last season.

    Stoops also added that although redshirt freshman Xavier Smith and junior college transfer Chris Jennings both stood out in camp, there is no clear-cut backup to starting running back Chris Henry, a junior.

    “”They’re both backups as we see them,”” the third-year head coach said. “”Who gets in first? I don’t think it really matters.””

    As expected, junior Kyle McQuown will handle punting duties to start the season, but Stoops hasn’t ruled out the possibility of having redshirt senior kicker Nick Folk handle double duty.

    “”We haven’t used Nick, but if we have to, we will. He’s got a tremendous leg,”” Stoops said. “”He’s kicking the ball extremely well in field goals and kickoffs, so if we have to use him, we will.””

    Freshman Keenyn Crier, McQuown’s competition entering camp, is a likely redshirt.

    Also redshirting will be freshman wideout Delashaun Dean, who is still recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of his senior year in high school.

    “”I think at this point – we’ll see how it pans out – but just for his physical well-being, I think he needs a redshirt year,”” Stoops said.

    Two members of the defensive secondary who aren’t likely to redshirt – freshmen cornerbacks Devin Ross and Mike Turner – were still awaiting clearance from the NCAA’s Clearinghouse yesterday morning.

    “”They would play if they’re available to play,”” Stoops said during his morning press conference. “”Those things are obviously out of our control at this point.””

    While Turner was in uniform and practicing last night, Ross donned street clothes as his teammates exited the practice field.

    Stoops wasn’t available for comment yesterday evening to update Turner’s situation.

    Trash talk?

    Every team has a message board in its locker room. Its contents each week depend on each opponent … and what they say.

    “”There’s media quotes in the locker room of what they (BYU) say,”” cornerback Antoine Cason said. “”That’s a little bit more fire to act upon.””

    On more than one occasion in Sunday’s Desert Morning News, the Wildcats were told to “”watch out”” by Cougar players.

    “”I’ve been hearing they’ve been talking a little bit,”” tight end Brandyn McCall said, “”but let them talk, and we’ll play our game and see how it works out.””

    With all the talk, Cason questioned whether the Cougars were too caught up in themselves.

    “”I don’t think they know what’s coming,”” Cason said, but added that he expected the BYU players “” to be how they are.””

    “”They should expect to win as well,”” he said. “”They shouldn’t expect less than a win for themselves, but they don’t know what we have coming. They’ll be surprised.””

    But Cason wasn’t surprised things were said.

    “”You know, that’s a football team, and that’s what they do to get themselves prepared, and there’s nothing wrong with that,”” he said. “”OK, ‘Watch out,’ as well, but we’re just ready. That’s all media talk and stuff, and it’s time for us to go show them that they better be ready as well.””

    Though they defended themselves, the Wildcats tried their best not to go on the offensive in the war of the words.

    “”I won’t say if they have any weaknesses right now,”” Wilrey Fontenot said when asked about BYU’s offense. “”I can’t go into saying that right now.””

    At one point, Cason was asked if Cougars quarterback John Beck had a weakness. He paused.

    “”You know, he’s a good quarterback,”” he said after a moment. “”I’m going to give him that. He’s pretty good.

    “”I haven’t really focused too much on the quarterback because my key is the receiver,”” he added. “”If I cover the receiver, Joe Beck will be throwing me the ball.””

    Err-he meant, of course, John Beck.

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