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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Spring football notes

Further Arizona football musings and observations from the Spring Game, spring practice and looking ahead:

All about the Perks

Safety Joe Perkins was on the outside looking in when it came to the 2009 depth chart at the start of the season, but solid play in practice earned him consideration for playing time. After a few snaps, Perkins made his presence known and ended up splitting time with Robert Golden at strong safety.

Now Perkins is listed as the starter at free safety for 2010 and his performance on Saturday at the Spring Game only strengthened the belief that he is a legitimate playmaker in the defensive backfield. He looked comfortable in the scheme, was aggressive in his tackling — a ball-jarring, touchdown saving tackle on wide receiver David Roberts comes to mind — and not only intercepted a pass in the end zone but looked like Eric Crouch when he optioned it to Trevin Wade on the return.

Cam Nelson, his predecessor at free safety, thinks Perkins has what it takes.

“”That’s going to be a really good move,”” Nelson said of the coaches moving Perkins to free safety. “”Perk is a guy that should’ve been playing, but we had a lot of good safeties. But now he’s got his opportunity.””

Gino Crump is making moves

The transfer from West Virginia is eligible to play this year, but his name wasn’t mentioned when spring camp started.

That has since changed.

Crump was a standout throughout spring, showing versatility and athleticism. What really stands out about Crump is his eagerness to play. You can tell by watching him that he wants the ball every play. He has no fear of catching the ball in traffic, was aggressive on screenplays — both receiving and blocking — and was hollering for the ball downfield. You can tell a receiver is confident in his abilities when he audibly yells that he was open when he’s pretty clearly covered.

Fortunately for Crump, the coaches want the ball in his hands just as badly as he does. There seemed to be an emphasis on getting him the ball during the Spring Game — likely to give him more opportunities to prove himself — and he passed each test.

“”I think I had a pretty good day, I could’ve done more, I think, but I gave it my best effort,”” Crump said after the Spring Game. “”I was definitely confident (coming into spring ball). All of (last) season I was on scout team going against the number one guys on defense, so I was definitely coming in with a little swagger.

“”The coaches seem to have a lot of confidence in me and they want to see me take that next step,”” Crump added. “”I definitely think they were trying to give me the opportunity to make a few plays and show the team and show the coaches what I can do out there.””

Offense has plenty of options

After the spring game concluded, I found myself wondering where wide receivers Bug Wright and David Douglas were, and then it hit me that Arizona really has an arsenal of weapons at wide receiver.

Think about it: You have Juron Criner and Delashaun Dean as bona fide outside receivers, and then you have Wright, Douglas, Crump, David Roberts and Terrence Miller to fill the inside receiver slots as well as back up Criner and Dean. That’s at least seven wide receivers who could see significant playing time this season.

“”We do have a lot of weapons at the receiver position, not only wide receiver but getting some of the tight ends and H-backs involved also,”” co-offenive coordinator Seth Littrell said. “”They’ve been productive all spring, and what happens is it makes it easier to call plays.””

Combine the seven wide receivers with tight end A.J. Simmons, H-back Taimi Tutogi, and running backs Nic Grigsby, Keola Antolin, Greg Nwoko and Daniel Jenkins, and Arizona has a stable of skilled, experienced position players that most teams don’t have.

“”We have a lot of returners on offense and it’s been a pretty good spring in that sense, in that now all you’re doing is fine-tuning some things and working on plays that you really like, and then just letting the guys go out and make plays,”” Littrell said. “”It makes it easy to call an offense when you trust the guys.””

Such a deep collection of talent makes it difficult for players to stand out as stars or statistical stalwarts because there are so many options on a single play. The real winner in the situation is quarterback Nick Foles, who will put up his numbers while his receivers work together to share the load.

That’s fine for the coaches — as long as the chains are moving and the ball finds its way into the end zone, they’re happy.

And don’t think that because Littrell and Bill Bedenbaugh — running backs/tight ends and offensive line coaches, respectively — are running the show that Arizona will suddenly turn to a power running scheme.

“”Even with him being a running backs type of guy, we’ll still get our touches,”” Criner said of Littrell calling plays.

Quick Hits

— Two guys who have put up big numbers in terms of production despite putting up small numbers in terms of measurables have clearly hit the weight room hard. Cornerback Trevin Wade and running back Nic Grigsby both look noticeably bigger this season, and it showed in the Spring Game. Wade flew down the field on his and Perkins’ pick-six and Grigsby, in his only carry of the day, trucked safety Robert Golden.

— Matt Scott once again showed his athleticism in the pocket, scrambling out of several sticky situations. Despite his numbers through the air, he still isn’t accurate enough to be a starter, and the coaches still don’t seem comfortable enough to call plays where he can make downfield reads. But Scott will be an extremely valuable asset this season running out of the Wildcat formation.

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