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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Dykes inherits youth at receiver position

    Wide Receiver Mike Thomas maneuvers around two California defenders in a 24-20 Homecoming win over the Golden Bears Nov. 11. Thomas and Anthony Johnson head the depth chart for wide receivers.
    Wide Receiver Mike Thomas maneuvers around two California defenders in a 24-20 Homecoming win over the Golden Bears Nov. 11. Thomas and Anthony Johnson head the depth chart for wide receivers.

    Only one thing is for certain about Arizona’s receiving corps.

    If new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes implements the entire system he was so successful with at Texas Tech, certain Wildcats are going to have busy years.

    In the new spread offense, quarterback Willie Tuitama can spread the ball around the field to as many as five targets.

    As Tuitama says, “”We’re going to air it out.””

    Dykes has been known to have his quarterbacks throw as many as 50 passes a game. Last year, the Red Raiders had three games where the quarterback threw at least five touchdown passes, and seven when he threw at least three.

    The team also had three receivers with at least 75 catches.

    I think in this offense your receivers have to be the focal point, so they have to really excel.

    -Mike Stoops
    head coach

    Arizona’s leading receiver last season, Syndric Steptoe, had 55.

    “”We’re getting better at receiver, a weakness for us a year ago,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”I think in this offense your receivers have to be the focal point, so they have to really excel.””

    Mike Thomas and Anthony Johnson head the depth chart this year, with a lot of youth following them. Stoops said juniors B.J. Dennard and Bobby McCoy will get some looks, along with sophomore Terrell Turner and redshirt freshmen Terrell Reese and Delashaun Dean.

    “”They’re real talented,”” Dykes said. “”The biggest thing for us is just being able to execute and handle the pressure and all the things receivers do to finish plays. … That’s what you worry about with young players.””

    The running backs will also be utilized a lot more as receivers in the new offense, perhaps more than they will be used as rushers. Last year, Tech’s Shannon Woods had 75 catches for 572 yards.

    “”We’ve got to stand up,”” Thomas said. “”It’ll be the first time since I’ve been here that we’ll have more than two or three receivers on the field at once.

    “”I think it’s more of a rotating system,”” he added. “”We’re going to need fresh legs in there for the things we’re trying to do. Just having everybody contribute is going to be real key.””

    At the tight end position, the official depth chart lists redshirt freshman A.J. Simmons and junior Travis Bell, but a player receiving lots of attention is true freshman Rob Gronkowski.

    Stoops said Gronkowski may be one of the few true freshmen to receive playing time, although the team has kept quiet about him because of the possibility he may develop into a secret weapon.

    Another target of note is Mike Turner, who made the switch from cornerback position over the summer. Dykes said halfback Earl Mitchell has impressed him as well.

    “”The good thing about these guys is that they’re really all pretty versatile,”” Dykes said. “”The guys are still learning and still establishing themselves and revealing to us what they’re capable of doing, but I think they’ve got a pretty good set of skills to work with.””

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