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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Football boasts depth

    When former Arizona cornerbacks Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot left the team after last season, the hole that was formed by both of their departures was arguably going to be the biggest weakness in the Wildcats’ defense this year.

    So much for that theory.

    If anything was made apparent in Arizona’s 70-0 romp over Idaho last weekend in the Wildcats’ season opener, it is that the secondary – both at safety and cornerback-is in good hands with youngsters taking over.

    “”That really surprised me and was very encouraging,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops about how the entire secondary played. “”All of our two’s played exceptionally well. … I think we worked harder in camp this year to let our twos play more and get them a little more experience and I think that paid off for us and we are excited about their talent.””

    While it isn’t quite known as of now whether it was Arizona’s secondary that was dominant or the lack of talent on Idaho’s side of the ball, the Wildcats came away very pleased with the play from their young defensive backs.

    With such a big lead early over the Vandals, the Wildcats got a chance to play just about everybody who holds eligibility this year. Among the reserve players that showed they may be ready to step in as regular contributors, were cornerbacks Trevin Wade and Robert Golden, and safeties Joe Perkins and Anthony Wilcox.

    Both Wade and Perkins, who are still getting their feet wet in terms of playing time, combined for three of Arizona’s four interceptions against the Vandals. Starting safety Nate Ness, who had the fourth interception, has been increasingly impressed with the young faces in the secondary.

    “”That impressed me so much to see all the young guys go out there and play hard,”” Ness said. “”They knew their assignments and they went out there and executed really well and that gives coach (Mark) Stoops a lot of faith.””

    Perhaps the most impressive performance in Arizona head coach Mike Stoops’ mind came at starting cornerback Devin Ross.

    Stoops said in his weekly press conference that he was very impressed with Ross’ patience and ability to catch up to passes quickly once finding himself out of position during the play.

    Ross, who had two tackles in limited play, is excited about finally get his opportunity to be a starting contributor for the Wildcats.

    “”I played really good, so (Mike Stoops) is happy with me,”” Ross said. “”I (have to) go after the ball more. I got my hands on a few and I thought I should have caught most of those. I have been playing cornerback for a long time, so it is kind of a natural feeling that I can catch up to the ball once it is in the air.””

    What had the biggest impression was the overall depth Stoops feels more comfortable in using, and not only in the secondary.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Arizona has quite a few options at running back behind starter Nic Grigsby with the emergence of Nick Booth and Keola Antolin and the return of Xavier Smith.

    When Grigsby, who rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, was out of the game, the three reserve running backs combined for 48 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

    “”Any time you can add depth, not just depth by numbers, but depth by quality players, it puts pressure on the people above to perform,”” Mike Stoops said. “”Our kids are good enough to contribute at just about every position on this football team.””

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