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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    JC transfer making case for D-I playing time

    Junior running back Chris Jennings bursts past Arizona defenders on his way to a 50-yard touchdown run during Saturdays scrimmage at Arizona Stadium. The walk-on, whose tough running and breakneck speed has impressed Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, led the Wildcats with 116 total yards.
    Junior running back Chris Jennings bursts past Arizona defenders on his way to a 50-yard touchdown run during Saturday’s scrimmage at Arizona Stadium. The walk-on, whose tough running and breakneck speed has impressed Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, led the Wildcats with 116 total yards.

    If wideouts Anthony Johnson and B.J. Dennard stole the show Saturday night, running back Chris Jennings certainly shared their spotlight.

    The junior-college transfer from Arizona Western College gained a team-high 95 yards on six carries – including a dazzling 50-yard dash down the right sideline en route to the end zone – in what turned out to be an offensively-dominated final scrimmage of fall camp for the Arizona football team Saturday night.

    “”I thought Chris Jennings was great,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said of the third-string running back. “”And Chris Henry and Xavier (Smith) did some decent things, too.””

    Henry, the starter, and his backup, Smith, made solid cases for depth chart placement with their outings during the scrimmage. Henry gained 36 yards on seven carries and Smith made 27 on a team-high 13 attempts.

    “”I like all three of those backs, and we wanted to get all three of them a bunch of work tonight,”” Stoops said. “”We didn’t get some of the younger guys as many reps as we would’ve liked, but I wanted to really stress those three guys and see where we’re at with all three of those backs.””

    Smith fumbled after taking the first of two big hits from sophomore linebacker Adrian McCovy – one of which sent Smith’s helmet

    flying into the air.

    “”That’s something we really talked about in camp,”” Stoops said. “”That’s our first fumble in a live situation, so to put the ball on the ground twice (Johnson also fumbled) is a bit of a bummer.””

    Despite the fumbles, the play of juniors Johnson (91 yards on nine receptions) and Dennard (four catches, 30 yards) had the crowd of 8,500 buzzing with a couple of highlight-reel grabs.

    “”(Johnson) and B.J. both are very talented players, and I think they’re finally emerging into playmakers,”” Stoops said. “”And we need ’em.””

    Said Dennard, who had eight career receptions, of the scrimmage: “”It was good, just

    getting back into my rhythm as a player. I just feel like I’m a new player.””

    The signal-callers getting Dennard and Johnson the balls – sophomore starter Willie Tuitama and his backup, redshirt senior Adam Austin – enjoyed their night as well, with Tuitama going 13-of-18 for 124 yards and Austin racking up 95 yards on 11-of-16 passing. Neither quarterback threw an interception.

    Three players – linebacker Spencer Larsen and defensive backs Corey Hall and Michael Turner – led the team in tackles with five, with Turner also leading the defense with three passes broken up.

    With less than two weeks until a season-opening contest against Brigham Young, the scrimmage reaffirmed the progression seen throughout fall camp.

    “”I think we’re developing some character across the team and some leadership, and that’s what we’ve desperately needed,”” Stoops said.

    Added defensive end Louis Holmes, who recorded four tackles: “”It’s big time knowing that we came out and we executed everything that we learned in camp. It’s just a good feeling to know that we got better.””

    Freshman running back Derke Robinson has left the team for personal reasons. Said Stoops: “”We will grant him a release. He has some issues at home, some personal issues, so it’s something he wanted to do.”” … Kicker Nick Folk hit all four of his field goals in the scrimmage (30, 43, 40 and 47 yards).

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