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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Football gets glimpse of future in Spring Game

    In an unprecedented move for the program, Arizona will face its season-opening opponent nearly five months early when it meets Brigham Young in tomorrow’s Spring Game at Arizona Stadium.

    Well, not exactly. But it’s partly true for the Wildcats’ defense.

    “”We’ve just been working on stopping our offense, because it’s a lot like BYU’s, and it’s going to give us a lot of preparation for the first game of the season,”” said linebacker Dane Krogstad.

    The Spring Game, set for 1:30 p.m., signals the end of the Wildcats’ spring practice schedule. The last four weeks have been marked largely by players’ progress in and against the spread offense Sonny Dykes brought from Texas Tech this offseason.

    It resembles that of BYU with three or four wide receivers lined up on every snap, run or pass, as well as a commitment to the tight end and halfback positions.

    Arizona’s version sparkled during its first public showing March 31 in an intrasquad scrimmage. The Wildcats’ top three quarterbacks combined to go 39-of-55 for 307 yards, and the team amassed 185 rushing yards on 22 carries.

    The defense has no plans of repeating its performance – in other words, giving up nearly 500 yards of offense isn’t on the agenda.

    Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said after the scrimmage that he was disappointed that a defense expected to be one of the best in the Pacific 10 Conference this season struggled to bottle up the run.

    Krogstad echoed that notion after Wednesday’s practice.

    “”We need to come downhill a little harder. We need to be more physical,”” he said. “”They don’t run as much as a normal team, so it doesn’t kill us as much, but they did get a few too many yards on us.””

    Wide receiver Anthony Johnson called the offense “”a beautiful thing”” and said it should be even more prolific tomorrow, as players have gotten more repetitions in what is considered a user-friendly system.

    “”The plays and the schemes and the concepts are very simple. It’s just detail,”” he said. “”Anytime you have an offense that’s surrounded by details, there’s going to be some mishaps, but as long as your get the detail down, your offense is going to be pretty good.””

    In any event, Johnson’s been part of a renaissance on his side of the ball. Over his first three seasons, Arizona finished an average of 100th nationally in total offense.

    Now, the Wildcats have an offensive coordinator in Dykes whose Texas Tech team annually finished among the country’s top 10 in passing yards and points scored per game.

    “”This offense is in itself explosive, so you’re going to get some momentum with an explosive offense,”” Johnson said. “”In the past, we haven’t had an offense that’s this tight, so there’s definitely a change-up. Fans can see – they’ll be able to watch that we’ve made progress.””

    Compared to the offense’s previous outing, defenders just might accept the numbers – 313 total yards, 24 rushing – BYU put on in Arizona’s 16-13 win in last year’s season opener.

    Some of them, however, are just glad to see a balance of power being established.

    “”We want the offense to produce. That’s what we’ve been trying to get, trying to get, trying to get,”” said cornerback Antoine Cason. “”But it feels good that they’re producing, and our goal really is to go out and play good defense, try and limit them, and I know they’re going to get after us.

    “”It feels good to have that competition out there, and I know it will be there.””

    Attendance to the Spring Game is free, and pre-game tailgating will begin at 11:30 a.m. Fans may sit on the west sideline of Arizona Stadium during the game.

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