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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mitchell still part of offense

    Arizona fullback Earl Mitchell hands the ball over to the referee after his 7-yard reception for a touchdown during the Wildcats 20-7 loss to Brigham Young on Saturday. Even though the fullback position is not looked upon as necessary in a spread offense, head coach Mike Stoops said Mitchell will get plenty of touches.
    Arizona fullback Earl Mitchell hands the ball over to the referee after his 7-yard reception for a touchdown during the Wildcats’ 20-7 loss to Brigham Young on Saturday. Even though the fullback position is not looked upon as necessary in a spread offense, head coach Mike Stoops said Mitchell will get plenty of touches.

    When the Arizona football team decided to make the transition to the spread offense over the summer, it may have seemed like bad news for fullback Earl Mitchell.

    But the 6-foot-2, 265-pounder’s versatility has proven to be a large benefit, as Mitchell is still penciled in as a major piece to Arizona’s offensive puzzle.

    “”He can play a lot of different positions, (we can) move him around and he is a very explosive blocker and has great hands out of the backfield,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”We try to utilize all of his skills.””

    After an offensive scheme transition that could potentially see up to three passes to every run, the need for a strong and physical blocking fullback was in question.

    But with Mitchell’s great blocking capabilities comes the explosive receiver side that can be used in a mixture of different ways out of the backfield or on the offensive line.

    “”My favorite part about being a fullback is you get to collide with people and touch the ball sometimes,”” Mitchell said. “”I’m getting used in a lot of different ways. I am still a tight end and I’m still playing fullback.””

    Mitchell added: “”We were still incorporating things from last year where I can get my hands on the ball. I’m just trying to maintain a role and become more of a team player now that the offense is different.””

    When the sophomore heard the news about the offensive scheme switch this offseason, he kept his head up.

    “”When I heard we were going to run a spread offense I knew things were going to change,”” Mitchell said. “”I am from Texas, and I wasn’t really recruited highly because they don’t really want fullbacks or tight ends. … I just want to do what I can and help the team when I can.””

    Mitchell showed he may still a major part of the Wildcats’ plans Saturday, as he was the only player to see the end zone in Arizona’s 20-7 loss at Brigham Young.

    With 53 seconds left in the game, Mitchell caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Willie Tuitama, giving Arizona its first score of the contest and preventing the Wildcats from suffering their first shutout in a season-opening game since 1963.

    “”Big Earl is fast, he is a quick runner and he is a great athlete,”” Tuitama said. “”He had a great play on Saturday when he got into the end zone, but just having him is nice because it gives us the ability to do a lot of different things.””

    And though having a fullback on the field in a spread formation may not be ideal, Stoops said, the Wildcats will try their best to make use of Mitchell’s athleticism when possible.

    “”We can use him in a bunch of different sets,”” Stoops said. “”Him and (freshman tight end Rob Gronkowski) give us some more power sets. … We will always have those in our game plan and maybe should have used them a little more Saturday.””

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