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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football’s first fall scrimmage

Mason Duhon
Wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig jogging from one of the Dick Tomey Practice Fields to the other during a practice on Friday, Aug. 4.

Bathed in the radiant sun at Arizona Stadium, the Wildcats took to the field for their first fall camp scrimmage, offering fans a glimpse of what lies in store for the upcoming season. Head coach Jedd Fisch’s strategy was evident from the outset: a comprehensive evaluation of the roster’s depth and potential. With 135 plays executed and nearly every player hitting the field, this scrimmage was more than just a practice; it was a canvas on which the story of the Wildcats’ journey was beginning to unfold.

“We played everybody; that was our plan today. We wanted to see as many reps as we could,” Fisch said. 

He emphasized the significance of capturing every player’s strengths and areas for improvement on tape. 

“It was a matter of ‘how can we see as much football as we can see?’ to help our guys be wherever they want to be, and see where we feel like they fit in best,” Fisch said. “[We have] a lot of young [players, and] some veteran transfer guys that we haven’t seen tackled very much.”

The field bore witness to the orchestra of offense and the dance of defense, each play crafting a unique note in the Wildcats’ symphony. Jayden de Laura, the starting quarterback, showed precision and poise, connecting with tight end Keyan Burnett for a 37-yard touchdown pass that left spectators on their feet. Noah Fifita showcased his versatility with two touchdown passes; however, an interception and a second near-pick served as a reminder of the fine line between success and struggle. Meanwhile, the developmental signal-callers Brayden Dorman and Cole Tannenbaum demonstrated their mettle by threading touchdown passes through defenders with the added pressure of being live targets.

In the realm of running backs, a quartet of dynamic players etched their names on the scoreboard. Amidst the chaos, Rayshon Luke, better known by his nickname ‘Speedy,’ emerged as a force to be reckoned with, and lived up to his name. He tore through the defense, leaving a trail of defenders in his wake during a 67-yard touchdown-scoring catch-and-run. Luke‘s performance mirrored the team’s overall ethos — an unwavering determination to make a mark and seize opportunities.

While the offense flourished, the defense roared to life with vigor. The relentless pursuit of excellence was embodied by Isaiah Ward‘s and Taylor Upshaw‘s sack contributions and an interception courtesy of Jai-Ayviauynn Celestine, a testament to the defense’s ability to shape the narrative of the scrimmage.

As the scrimmage concluded, it was apparent that Arizona football was a tapestry woven with both potential and challenges. The roadmap to the season opener against NAU on Saturday, Sept. 2, was taking shape, and the Wildcats had their sights on harnessing technique, mastering fundamentals and cultivating a tenacity that would set them apart.

The scrimmage not only showcased the team’s physical prowess but also their mental resilience. Luke, for instance, was recognized for his increased mental toughness.

“The biggest thing with Speedy [Luke] is […] you can only play if you protect the football […]. He’s taking great pride in [saying] ‘Hey, I’m going to protect the ball,’” Fisch said. 

The emphasis on responsibility and accountability echoed the team’s commitment to self-improvement and collective growth.

The scrimmage, with its blend of triumphs and learning moments, stands as a pivotal stepping stone on the Wildcats’ journey. As the players return to their training grounds, they carry with them the lessons learned and the momentum gained. With seven practices left and another scrimmage scheduled for next Saturday, Aug. 19, the Wildcats have a prime opportunity to further showcase their burgeoning talent before the grand stage of their season opener. The road ahead is paved with challenges and victories, but the Wildcats remain resolute in their pursuit of excellence, poised to leave an indelible mark on the gridiron.

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