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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Offensive tempo a work in progress for Arizona football

Will+Ferguson+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+University+of+Arizona+football+team+held+a+scrimmage+at+Kino+Memorial+Stadium+Saturday%2C+April+14%2C+2012.
Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson / Arizona Daily Wildcat The University of Arizona football team held a scrimmage at Kino Memorial Stadium Saturday, April 14, 2012.

It’s no secret that the Arizona football team will have a drastically different offense this year.

Gone are the air-raid days of old that regularly saw Nick Foles throw the ball 40 or 50 times a game. Putting the ball in the air on third- or fourth-and-short is likely gone by the wayside. Back-pylon fades inside the 5-yard line won’t be nearly as common.

But a change in the schemes themselves isn’t the only difference. There’s also a change in philosophy.

Sure, Arizona relied on a no-huddle last season under offensive coordinator Seth Littrell. But it wasn’t the complete chaos that the Wildcats hope to create in the seconds between each play this season.

“Last year, we spent too much time signaling to the receivers over here, signaling to the receivers over there,” quarterback Matt Scott said. “We didn’t get a chance to get that fast-paced tempo.”

Head coach Rich Rodriguez called a huddle “the biggest waste of time in football,” and the Wildcats hope their frenetic pace on offense can have the same effect that Oregon’s offense does on a defense — leading opponents to fake injuries, call unnecessary timeouts and be caught off guard at the snap of the ball.

The frenzied pace of the offense between snaps can also lead to a number of mismatches, giving Arizona’s athletes a chance for a big gain on any given play.

“This offense just sets you up for success,” running back Ka’Deem Carey said. “There’s holes everywhere. You’re gonna make a play when there’s nothing there. That’s just what this offense is designed to do.”

But that pace was nearly impossible for the Wildcats to achieve during Rodriguez’s first spring in Tucson, and Scott said the tempo never got to where he wants it to be. Rodriguez said Arizona was out of shape all spring, something that was likely a result of Mike Stoops’ midseason firing last year.

“They bought in, they’re trying hard,” Rodriguez said. “There’s another level we can get to as far as work ethic. Our guys have to have a great summer. We’ve got to go in fall camp in terrific shape, the best shape of their athletic lives and I think they understand that now.”

Arizona’s players also noticed that they were getting out of shape. Rodriguez said when he took the job that many players would go weeks at a time without lifting weights, something that successful Division I athletes can’t do.

That’s a message that hasn’t been lost on Scott, who will assume a leadership role this season as perhaps the most experienced skill-position player on Arizona’s offense.

“I don’t want to admit it, but I see it,” Scott said of the team being out of shape. “Last year, they didn’t really expect too much of us, coming out to practice and moving around. But (Rodriguez) expects a lot more, so we’re definitely going to work hard this summer and improve our shape.”

Scott said he isn’t leaving Tucson this summer while he works out and does his best to become proficient in Rodriguez’s read-option offense, which Scott ran a version of at Centennial High School in California.

The senior quarterback said he hopes others follow suit, or the Wildcats might fall into a dangerous pattern.

“It’s times like this where people stop working,” Scott said. “They miss some things or come back rusty, and we don’t want that. We want to come back and hit the ground where we left off.”

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