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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats pleased with progress over spring

    UA running back Chris Jennings carries the football while being grabbed by linebacker Jeremy Samoy (57) and safety Nate Ness during Saturdays Spring Game at Arizona Stadium. Jennings rushed for 39 yards on eight carries in the game, which marked the end of spring practice for the Wildcats.
    UA running back Chris Jennings carries the football while being grabbed by linebacker Jeremy Samoy (57) and safety Nate Ness during Saturday’s Spring Game at Arizona Stadium. Jennings rushed for 39 yards on eight carries in the game, which marked the end of spring practice for the Wildcats.

    Despite what was considered to be a strong spring season, the mantra within the Arizona football team is to get bigger, stronger and faster in its summer practices.

    The team culminated its spring season Saturday and will have 4 1/2 months to prepare for the season opener against Brigham Young Sept. 1.

    “”I’m really pleased with the entirety of our spring,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said. “”I thought it was very productive.

    “”We’ve been much more consistent this spring than we’ve ever been. … That’s a great thing heading into the summer.””

    The Wildcats will resume practice again in four weeks and will start more strenuous strength and conditioning workouts. They will also watch game film as well as film from seven-on-seven practices.

    Stoops was pleased he was able to keep most of his players healthy in the spring, but added that he expects the team to be 100 percent healthy in four weeks.

    “”Defensively I thought it was a very solid spring for us,”” Stoops said. “”We wanted to make sure that we kept our players healthy and we did. We have 10 starters back, and we really like the development of some of our younger players.””

    Arizona saw the emergence of players like wide receivers Terrell Reese and Delashaun Dean, quarterback Tyler Lyon, punter Keenyn Crier, kicker Jason Bondzio, defensive end Ricky Elmore and junior-college transfer cornerback Marquis Hundley, who are all expected to fill major roles of departed seniors.

    The spring also marked the debut of a new air-raid offense, installed by newly hired offensive coordinator

    Sonny Dykes, whose influence from Texas Tech is expected to help an offense that ranked No. 115 in total offense and was near the bottom of the country in several other categories last year.

    “”We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re certainly headed in the right direction,”” Dykes said. “”It’s going to be vital for us to get in there and watch as much film as we can and learn. Right now we’re doing a pretty good job of grasping the large concepts.””

    Dykes noted he was displeased about three failed third-down conversions during the Spring Game, but he was proud that the Wildcat offense only turned the ball over three times in 200-plus plays in three scrimmages.

    “”We’ve been taking pretty good care of the ball,”” he said. “”We need to take better care of it, but I think we’re taking pretty good care of it.

    “”Our timing with our quarterbacks and just the trust factor between the quarterback and the receiver is improving. It’s got to get better, and that’s the biggest thing those guys can improve over the summer, is just to understand the trust factor.””

    Quarterback Willie Tuitama – who threw for 292 yards Saturday to go with two touchdowns and two interceptions – figured it would take him much longer to learn the new spread offense, saying he expected to struggle with it more than he did over the spring.

    “”After the summer, I’ll be exactly where I need to be,”” Tuitama said. “”I’m gonna go back and watch every film, teams, seven-on-seven, all that stuff.””

    Linebacker Spencer Larsen said that he has seen the offense come a long way from where it was at the start of spring, based on what he saw during 7-on-7 workouts and in the scrimmages.

    After what he called a great spring overall, Larsen said the Wildcats now need to focus on conditioning over the summer.

    “”We have to be the most conditioned team on the field,”” he said. “”We have to be able to play every snap as hard as we can and give it that great effort so we don’t give up those big plays we gave up last year.

    “”We have to be more mentally tough.””

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