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Three key takeaways from Arizona football’s April 1 practice

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Nathanial Stenchever
Kyle Ostendorp a punter on the Arizona football team practices punts during pregame on Saturday Aug. 20 at Arizona Stadium. The mock game would consist of the offence taking on the deffence for the night in a friendly scrimmage.

The Arizona football team had its ninth spring practice at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, April 1, at 7 p.m. With the change of scenery and timing of this practice, the players needed no extra motivation to get locked in on what they wanted to accomplish in this practice.

From the start, everyone looked focused but was also having a good time as they prepared to step on the field. Everyone wore their game uniforms because this practice was spent mostly scrimmaging.

The coaching staff treated this practice as if it was an actual game. They let the players know what their responsibilities were tonight and put them in the best position so they were able to accomplish them.

Here are three takeaways from this practice.

Offense 

The offense began with 7-on-7’s and starting quarterback Jayden de Laura looked sharp and under control in his first drive. He led the offense down the field and into the end zone with ease. Noah Fifita was up next, and he also had full control of the offense. He led them down the field to score a touchdown.

After this, the scrimmage began and all quarterbacks got reps. During the scrimmage, de Laura had the most control of the offense from all of the quarterbacks as he led them down the field to score multiple touchdowns.

Noah Fifita also had a great showing during the scrimmage at times, having to make split-second decisions which helped to keep drives alive. He had back-to-back throws in the same drive that were probably his best throws of the night. They were thrown to wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan, who caught both passes with just one hand. The second catch went for a touchdown.

 

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Brayden Dorman did not look too good in his limited on-field action. His passes were not on-target and his decisiveness in the pocket was lacking compared to de Laura and Fifita.

Then, in his limited time on the field, Cole Tannenbaum had one drive where he looked very composed. He made some good throws to help the offense move down the field but was eventually stopped near the red zone. On the next drive, he threw an interception on his first pass and that was his last rep of the day.

Overall, de Laura and Fifita have made tangible improvements so far this off-season, building chemistry with their respective units. Dorman and Tannenbaum still have more room to grow. Head coach Jedd Fisch spoke on his quarterbacks.

“The quarterbacks’ commitment, in general, has been something unique […]. They are working very hard to understand the offense, and I think it’s showing how they are moving the ball,” Fisch said.

Defense 

The defensive side of the ball had a great day. They stopped the offense on most of their red zone and goal-line attempts. They were also able to pick off both de Laura and Tannenbaum, force numerous negative plays during the scrimmage and have consistent pressure on the quarterbacks no matter who was under center.

All in all, they had a great showing going up against almost anyone who stepped on the field. Safety Genesis Smith was the player that ended the scrimmage with his final interception on de Laura in the end zone.

De Laura spoke about who stood out on the defensive side of the ball the most to him.

“There’s so many guys […] the defensive backs [Charles] Yates [Jr.] and [Treydan] Stukes have been playing really good. The linebackers have all been doing well with [Jacob] Manu stepping up more as a leader and the defensive line has been playing great also,” de Laura said.

Overall the defense has made the most progress this off-season comparing how they looked last season. They are heading in the right direction as the off-season continues.

Special Teams 

Punters Jordan Forbes and Kyle Ostendorp both got reps punting, and Forbes was able to show off his strong leg. Each of his punts was high-pointed, long and very tactically placed in a certain area of the field each time.

As for Ostendorp, his kicks had less air under them but were just as precise. He also kicked field goals and went three for four on his attempts. They were all on target and had more than enough power to push them through the goalpost.

Overall this unit looked very in tune with one another and has made progress this off-season.


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