Three key takeaways from Arizona football’s April 8 practice


Marison Bilagody

Arizona running back, Jonah Coleman (24), runs with the ball as a defender tackles him at Arizona Stadium on April 9. Arizona held its annual spring game in which Arizona players faced off against one another.  

Jason Dayee

The Arizona football team had its 12th spring practice at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, April 8, at 11:40 a.m. With the players being back in their stadium for another practice, everyone understood what needed to be done in practice.

As usual, they were divided up by position groups during their warm-ups. In this practice, every group had an extra pep in their steps, and this was especially true for the defensive players. As they did their defensive drills, the players were flying all over the place.

This practice was spent doing some more scrimmaging, so the coaches did not need to say much to inspire their guys to be ready to play.

There were a few key takeaways from this practice.


The defensive side of the ball was a bit sluggish to start their first series. Despite giving up yardage down the field, they made the offense work for every yard. Once they were down into the red zone or on the goal line, the defense held up more often than not. They had multiple sacks on the quarterbacks, forced several turnovers and took the offense off the field repeatedly.

Some players that stood out were defensive lineman Russell Davis II with multiple sacks on Jayden de Laura, safety DJ Warnell Jr. who forced a fumble near the red zone and cornerback Jai-Ayviauynn Celestine with an interception to end the first half. More players had solid showings but these are just a few standouts. Head coach Jedd Fisch spoke about the defense.

“Our defense is getting better; our defense is flying around; our defense has been making it harder on the offense,” Fisch said. “[…] I think you could see the difference […], and they’re blowing guys off the ball.”


De Laura and Noah Fifita saw most of the snaps today during practice, and, out of the two of them, Fifita had the better day. De Laura was able to move the ball up and down the field pretty consistently throughout practice, but he struggled significantly with getting the ball into the end zone on multiple drives. De Laura was also fairly inaccurate on some of his throws. He was also very indecisive, which resulted in him having to scramble on almost every throw and getting sacked multiple times.

While Fifita did have similar issues, he was much sharper and more decisive with his throws and decision-making. He was also able to score multiple touchdowns when the offense was in the red zone or on the goal line. His connection with guys like running back Jonah Coleman and wide receiver Jackson Holman has greatly been improved and in this practice translated to touchdowns for them both. Jimmie Dougherty, the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, spoke on Fifita’s performance in practice.

“I’ve been proud of Noah [Fifita], just his consistency how he’s been pretty much all spring,” Dougherty said. “He’s still completing about 68% [of his passes] overall throughout the spring, and not a bunch of turnovers […] so he’s doing a nice job on what we focused on,” Dougherty said.


As a whole, the offense was the least effective unit in this practice. On most of their drives, they struggled with their execution, such as deploying the correct pass-blocking combinations, creating separation for passes and decision-making at the quarterback position. The offensive linemen struggled at times with communicating their blocking schemes. This resulted in the quarterbacks not having enough time to make the right throw and having to scramble often, which led to them being sacked repeatedly. The wide receivers and tight ends at times were also not able to create space and finish catches, but this seemed like more of a focus issue than anything else.

Overall this side of the ball still has much more growing to do, and with the spring game on the horizon, hopefully, things can improve before then.

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