Stoops comfortable with ‘unorthodox’ lack of a play-caller as spring beginsby Anthony Gimino on Mar. 05, 2010, under Sports
The identity of Arizona’s play-caller for offense is still a mystery. Which is not the same thing as it being a concern.
Coach Mike Stoops has two new co-coordinators — offensive line Bill Bedenbaugh and running backs/tight ends coach Seth Littrell. He also has a new quarterbacks coach in Frank Scelfo, who called plays last season for Louisiana Tech and has done so at other places, including Tulane.
Stoops’ message: It will all work itself out as Arizona goes through spring ball, which was set to begin Friday afternoon.
“We haven’t really worked through all that yet,” Stoops said. “It’s just about getting comfortable with who we are as a staff. A lot of will be determined as we move through the spring. That’s a process that will be ongoing.”
Stoops admits that the lack of a play-caller at this stage is “probably a little bit unorthodox.”
But Bedenbaugh is entering his fourth season at Arizona, Littrell is second season, and they coached together at Texas Tech. So, they each have a high level of comfort in this offensive scheme.
And the players have a high level of comfort with them, Stoops said.
“I think our players are as confident as they have ever been in our staff, that is for sure,” Stoops said.
“I think they have a great feeling of continuity. I think that is the biggest thing. There is not a lack of trust there. The big thing is to have chemistry among our staff and players. I think we have that. If we didn’t have that, then that would be alarming.”
Stoops met with the media Friday morning, and then his co-offensive coordinators and co-defensive coordinators (linebackers coach Tim Kish and new secondary coach Greg Brown) did the same.
As a practical matter on game days, Bedenbaugh said he will be on the field while Littrell will be in the press box.
“We have been in this offense; we know what we want to do,” Bedenbaugh said. “We think alike. We want to run the same things. Everything will be good.
Two other members of the offensive staff return — outside receivers coach David Nichol and inside receivers coach Garret Chachere — easing the transition.
“We have great position coaches,” Littrell said. “We are not going to have to be looking over anyone’s shoulder.”
Bedenbaugh said the playbook has been tweaked to reflect the team’s strengths and weaknesses. The team’s biggest strength at this point, Stoops said, is the experience on offense, where 10 starters return, including quarterback Nick Foles.
“I think it will be a much more confident group,” Stoops said. “I think they know they can move the football.”
One thing to work in the spring is to continue to explore the options with backup quarterback Matt Scott, including specific packages for his running skills.
“I think you have to,” Stoops said. “He’s one of our most talented players. I think you have to keep him involved. …
“He’s going to have a lot of opportunities. It will be his chance to show us what he can do and see if he’s matured through the course of the year.”
Now, all Arizona has to figure out is who calls the plays. The game plan typically is done by Tuesday of game week. On game day, it laregly will be a collaborative effort — as it was with Sonny Dykes as the coordinator the past three seasons — but somebody has to pull the trigger when things get crazy during games.
In spring and fall scrimmages, the coaching staff will have to work on communication and timing, as well as the play-calling.
“These guys are all in it together,” Stoops said.
Stoops said three players are out for the spring — starting OG Vaughn Dotsy (back surgery last week), projected starting DT Dominique Austin (toe) and third-string RB Greg Nwoko (shoulder).