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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    New offense a big hit on first day of practice

    UA starting quarterback Willie Tuitama, center, and his backup Kris Heaver, left, stretch before the first spring practice yesterday at Jimenez Practice Facility. The Wildcats started to install the new spread offense they will feature next season under new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, with Tuitama, who shed 12 pounds since last season, as the centerpiece.
    UA starting quarterback Willie Tuitama, center, and his backup Kris Heaver, left, stretch before the first spring practice yesterday at Jimenez Practice Facility. The Wildcats started to install the new spread offense they will feature next season under new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, with Tuitama, who shed 12 pounds since last season, as the centerpiece.

    When asked his opinion of Sonny Dykes’ new offense, Mike Thomas thumbed his paper cup, did his best “”The Thinker”” impression and gnawed some ice cubes for a couple moments.

    “”It’s good,”” the sophomore wide receiver said finally, to a roll of chuckles. “”When it’s 90 percent pass, you can’t complain.””

    Yesterday Arizona players got their first stab at the spread offense Dykes, the first-year UA offensive coordinator, brought from Texas Tech during the first of 15 spring practices.

    Senior linebacker Spencer Larsen noted how the scheme, set to feature as many as five receiving options on every play, will force defenders to cover more of the field than they’re used to.

    Senior running back Chris Jennings lauded a smaller playbook and more simple terminology.

    “”Too simple,”” Jennings joked.

    Nonetheless, Dykes said he noticed a good number of fundamental mistakes such as bad or dropped snaps, and quarterbacks Willie Tuitama and Tyler Lyon taking too many or too few steps before throwing.

    But he was pleased with how well players studied up during voluntary offseason workouts.

    “”Now we just got to get some things ironed out with our execution,”” Dykes said. “”We threw a lot at them at the front end, that’s just what we try to do – catch them early and kind of throw everything at them right now and see how they react. We reacted really well at times today.””

    Tuitama, who shed 12 pounds from his season playing weight of 240, said he looks forward to lining up more in the shotgun formation, a personal preference and a mainstay in the new scheme.

    He said he doesn’t anticipate too many challenges in adjusting from Arizona’s attack under Mike Canales, who resigned in November after three seasons.

    “”Now we just got to get some things ironed out with our execution.””
    – Sonny Dykes,
    new offensive
    coordinator

    “”You have to be a little more patient and just let things open up,”” Tuitama said. “”Other than that, there’s not really too much difference.””

    Dykes said Tuitama exceeded his expectations with his physical ability but that he wants the junior to better assert his leadership this season.

    “”We need him,”” Dykes said. “”When you run this kind of offense, you put a lot on the quarterback, and he has to become a great leader for us and a gym rat and get in there and watch film. He’s done a pretty good job of that, and that’s something we’ll be working on.””

    The defense has routinely outplayed the offense in recent spring scrimmages, as head coach Mike Stoops pointed out yesterday. He liked what he saw from the first day of practice and expects the gap between the units to close by the April 14 Spring Game.

    “”I can’t wait,”” Jennings said. “”Once we get everything going 110 (percent), everybody doing what they’re supposed to do … once the season comes, we should be right. I’m excited.””

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