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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“Offensive, defensive coaches talk spring”

With the Spring Game now a thing of the past, Arizona football is moving forward to the summer. Players will be focusing on exams and workouts while coaches begin to dissect film from the spring and hit the recruiting trail.

Co-defensive coordinators Tim Kish and Greg Brown and co-offensive coordinators Seth Littrell and Bill Bedenbaugh spoke to the media on Thursday to give their final thoughts on the spring.

Brown, Kish excited about defensive youth

After coming to Tucson from Colorado, Brown’s first spring as an Arizona coach is now under his belt and the defensive backs coach couldn’t be more pleased with the way his group performed. Although he acknowledged a lack of depth, he’s excited about the way players in the secondary performed.

“”It was nice to see the improvement of (cornerback) Marcus Benjamin,”” Brown said. “”He came along and had an excellent spring and finished off with a top-notch spring game. He had a tremendous interception and the tackles that he made in the open field were nice plays.””

Brown also paid compliments to senior cornerback Mike Turner, senior safety Anthony Wilcox and sophomore safety Adam Hall.

The star of the secondary this spring, though, was safety Joe Perkins. He opened the spring as a free safety, but the coaches believe he can start at either free or strong safety.

“”Joe Perkins was as good as we’ve had in the secondary in the spring,”” Brown said. “”He played lights-out on many occasions and he kept getting better and better. The thing that really stands out with Joe is just the tremendous range that he’s got.””

Brown didn’t rule out the possibility of moving last year’s starting strong safety Robert Golden to cornerback, his original position when he arrived at Arizona.

In the freshman class, Brown is looking forward to adding highly touted safety recruit Marquis Flowers to make an impact next season.

“”We don’t have great numbers or great depth in the secondary right now, so there’s an opportunity for Marquis to come in here.

“”We see Marquis a safety along the lines of Taylor Mays from USC,”” Brown added. “”Big guy who can go out and hit and catch the ball and be smart. He’s got a lot of tools to work with.””

Kish, who is also the linebacker coach, said his young linebacker unit isn’t quite ready to fully replace the three senior starters from last season, but thinks they are making strides.

“”I was excited to see the progression, especially with the whole group,”” Kish said of the linebackers, singling out sophomore Jake Fischer and junior Derek Earls as players that are “”expected to make an impact.””

“”Jake is a very competitive young man and has a great knowledge of the scheme,”” Kish said of Fischer. “”He adds a toughness to the group that I’m really excited about. He’s extremely intelligent and I think he’s going to be a real asset to the group next fall.””

“”Derek Earls, with his length, even though he’s a little bit behind concept-wise, I thought he did a tremendous job,”” Kish said of the junior college transfer. “”I’ve never had a guy come in from a JuCo situation and be able to transition that quickly. He made a few mistakes but he did them playing fast. He’s got tremendous upside and I’m real anxious to see how he’ll progress over the course of the summer and the fall camps, and I anticipate him to be a tremendous leader of the group as well.””

Bedenbaugh, Littrell emphasize offensive toughness

The passing game, led by the battery of quarterback Nick Foles and wide receivers Juron Criner and Delashaun Dean, is expected to put up big numbers in 2010, but co-offensive coordinators Bedenbaugh and Littrell were encouraged by the toughness they’ve seen.

And it seems to be sparked by H-back Taimi Tutogi.

“”He’s very physical,”” Littrell said. “”That’s one of the things we had to work on last year when he first got here, being more physical. He’s really taken on that role and he’s taking the coaching well.””

While Tutogi has electrified the mood of the offense — as well as fans during the spring game — the leader of the hard-nosed mindset has always been center Colin Baxter.

A starter since his redshirt freshman season, Baxter has turned into a talented blocker and the type of leader coaches look for.

“”He had a really good spring,”” Bedenbaugh. “”Colin has really been solid and steadily improved since he started as a redshirt freshman. He’s got unbelievable experience, he’s started in 37 games and when he leaves here it’ll be around 50 if he stays healthy.

“”He’s a very tough guy, that’s the biggest thing he brings,”” Bedenbaugh added. “”His toughness and his leadership rub off on the other guys. He plays the position the way you’re supposed to play it, and the good thing is that all these young guys can see how you’re supposed to play offensive line.””

While the offense has the returning personnel to rest on its laurels, the coaches emphasized that the unit needs to continue to work if it wants to be as successful as it can be.

“”In football, you have to improve at everything all the time,”” Bedenbaugh said. “”You have to get bigger, faster, stronger; you have to learn defenses better and you have to learn the offense better.””

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