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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Players optimistic about co-coordinators

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizonas Spring football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Apr. 10, 2010.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona’s Spring football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Apr. 10, 2010.

One of the biggest question marks for Arizona football heading into the 2010 season isn’t on the field of play, but rather the sidelines.

During the offseason, the Wildcats lost offensive mastermind Sonny Dykes to Louisiana Tech, where he took over as head coach, and defensive innovator Mark Stoops to Florida State, who became the Seminoles defensive coordinator.

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops went the unconventional route with his replacement strategy, filling the voids with four brains, rather than two – Tim Kish and Greg Brown handling the defense, with Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell handling the offense.

While such a strategy is far from the norm, according the players, it’s so far so good.

“”The co-coordinator thing has worked out great so far,”” said junior quarterback Nick Foles. “”The offense is similar to what we did last year, and we added a couple of wrinkles that will benefit us this year. I think it’s a good thing that it happened.””

The aforementioned quartet is technically the coordinators, but recently added quarterback coach Frank Scelfo will play a big part in the offensive attack.

Scelfo was added to Stoops’ staff in February, and has received rave reviews from his players ever since.

“”I think the fans were a little worried losing coach Dykes but coach Stoops always says he replaces great coaches with great coaches, so we got a great coach in coach Scelfo,”” Foles said.

Bedenbough, who’s entering his fourth season on the staff, will focus on the offensive line, Littrell, in his second season, works with the tight ends and running backs and Scelfo with the quarterbacks.

While the players admit that the new system has taken some getting used to — and that Dykes isn’t exactly replaceable — the offensive outlook is positive heading into the 2010 season.

“”I’m used to it now, with coach Littrell and coach (Scelfo), they really come together and make a game and put us in the best position to make plays,”” said junior receiver William “”Bug”” Wright.

As for the defensive side of the ball, Mark Stoops brought a type of defensive creativity to the Wildcats that won’t be matched, but with an NFL mind like Brown’s and a long-time staffer in Kish, both are qulaified to pick up where Mark Stoops left off .

Perkins said that while bits and pieces of Mark Stoops’ defense still lingers, Kish and Brown are proving their worth.

“”Mark Stoops was great, but coach Kish and Brown, they just feel together so good, they’re not even missing a beat right now,”” said senior safety and projected starter Joe Perkins.

Brown was hired in January to handle the defensive backs and has experience with six different NFL franchises in the Buccaneers, Falcons, Chargers, Oilers (now Titans), 49ers and Saints and four different collegiate programs in UTEP, Wyoming, Purdue and Colorado.

Brown will use his 15 years of NFL coaching experience to mentor the secondary, especially the youngsters like sophomore Adam Hall and Marquis Flowers.

“”We watch film on great players. When (Brown) was at San Fransisco we watched the DB’s that were going against Jerry Rice every day,”” Hall said. “”We do a lot of the drills that he worked on with them and try to perfect things as much as we could.””

Hall noted that Brown brings a different flair compared to Mark Stoops. He prefers more defensive backs and playmakers on the field, rather than the man-to-man concepts that Mark Stoops implemented.

“”(Brown) likes to go six DB’s and get after it and put the best athletes on the field and let them go to work,”” Hall said.

Although it’s Brown’s first year with the program, he has Kish who has been with the staff since 2004, to lean on. Kish will handle the linebackers and brings a familiar face and intensity to the defense.

Kish and Brown have quite the challenge ahead  of them, as only four defensive starters return and the unit is light-years behind the offense as far as progression.

But considering the knowledge and experience of both Brown and Kish, as well as the defensive mind of Mike Stoops, there is no lack of confidence that the defense will put it together.

So while Dykes and Mark Stoops will clearly be missed on Saturdays, and the new coordinator system remains one of the biggest uncertainties, the pieces are there for Arizona’s unconventional replacement strategy to succeed.

“”Coach Dykes, he was a good coach and everything, don’t get me wrong, but I’m happy with our new coaching staff and as a team we’re happy and we feel like we’re in a good position right now,”” Wright said.  

 

EXTRA POINT

While the new coordinators may very well be sufficient replacements, one thing that can’t be replaced is the “”brotherly love”” dynamic between Mark Stoops and Mike Stoops.

Both Mike and Mark are notoriously intense in their approach to football – and to referees – and would butt heads as often as they would simultaneously jump on the sideline.

“”Some of the arguments and fights were pretty funny,”” Perkins said. “”Coach Mark and coach Mike had that special relationship as brothers, they knew what needed to be done.””

This season will mark the first time since 1999 that Mike Stoops won’t be coaching with a brother. Before adding Mark Stoops as his defensive coordinator upon being hired before the 2004 season, he served as an assistant coach at Oklahoma under his other brother Bob Stoops.

 

 

 

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