The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

59° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football’s final fall camp scrimmage: Evaluating team before season opener

Nathanial Stenchever

Jacob Cowing, a wide receiver on the Arizona football team, works on returning kick-offs on Aug. 20, 2022, at Arizona Stadium. The mock game would consist of the offense taking on the defense for the night in a friendly scrimmage.

The Arizona football team’s final fall camp scrimmage happened Saturday, Aug. 19, offering fans a glimpse into the team’s progress before the 2023 season opener against NAU on Saturday, Sept. 2. With a scripted practice designed to simulate diverse in-game scenarios, head coach Jedd Fisch aimed to comprehensively evaluate the team’s performance and readiness.

The scrimmage, however, unveiled a significant concern: penalties. The team amassed 20 penalties in total10 by the offense, eight by the defense and two on special teams — pointing toward a need for enhanced discipline. Fisch expressed his disappointment, deeming it a “wake-up call” for the team. The transition to the stadium environment seemed to contribute to the penalties, indicating a departure from the program’s standards and expectations.

“It was a great wake-up call,” Fisch said. “[When] you’re in the stadium, [you’ve] got different situations, [and players] not paying attention to the yard markers […] [it was] not disciplined. We had 10 penalties on offense, eight on defense [and] two in the kicking game. They know it now and they will talk about that. The leaders there talked about that. That is not the standard nor the expectation.”

On the quarterback front, Fisch commended the smooth operation and effective passing execution. The quarterbacks displayed adeptness in connecting passes. However, the defense showed its mettle by effectively defending passes and applying pressure on the quarterbacks. The scrimmage revealed that all four quarterbacks exhibited confidence and skill, underlining the team’s quarterback depth.

“I think the quarterback play was pretty good today,” Fisch noted. “Pretty smooth operation. I think we hit on a lot of passes, but I think defensively they did a really nice job of not only defending the pass but flushing the guys out of the pocket […] All four of the guys went in there, all four of those guys had confidence.”

Contrasting the offensive dominance in the previous scrimmage, the final scrimmage underscored the defensive unit’s prowess. The defense displayed strong performances with sacks, interceptions and standout plays. This duality in performance showcases the team’s adaptable nature and underscores the ongoing evaluation process in preparation for the season opener.

Defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen provided insights into the progression of redshirt freshman defensive lineman Isaiah Ward. Nansen acknowledged the challenges of Ward‘s size against larger offensive tackles. Nevertheless, his speed and agility position him as an asset on the field.

“Every day he’s getting better,” Nansen observed. “The challenge is ‘how can we maintain the weight?’ When you play big-time ball with offensive tackles that are big […] his speed and his quickness [are] gonna help him.”

Transfer cornerback Dylan Wyatt‘s arrival injected experience into the defense. Nansen praised Wyatt’s field acumen, likening him to a field general capable of translating film room insights into effective plays. Wyatt‘s endorsement by a former colleague further underscores his potential impact on the team.

“He’s like a coach on the field. He’s one of those guys where you can tell him in the film room and he’ll get it done on the field,” Nansen said. “He was highly recommended by one of the coaches I used to work with, so I knew exactly what we were getting.”

As the final fall camp scrimmage wrapped up, Fisch outlined the team’s upcoming agenda. A correction-focused practice session would be followed by a player day off and a student-athlete barbecue. These events would smoothly segue into preparations for the season opener.

“Tomorrow we are going to have a helmets practice [spending] an hour and a half on corrections [at] full speed,” Fisch explained. “Then after that, we’ll close camp with a team meal. Then Monday [is] first day of classes, [which is a] player day off, and a student-athlete barbecue. Then that leads us right into the season of extra bonus day work.”

The final fall camp scrimmage served as an evaluative lens, uncovering areas demanding refinement and showcasing defensive standouts. The team’s adherence to discipline and precision remains pivotal as the countdown to the 2023 season opener continues. With the evolving evaluation process, the Wildcats will first look in-house to clean things up before their season opener against NAU on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m.

Follow Jason Dayee on Twitter (X)


More to Discover