UA’s Stoops likes his offense so far; now, about that defense …by Anthony Gimino on Mar. 28, 2010, under Sports
This is the way it is in spring football. If you like your offense, you probably don’t like your defense. If your defense is controlling scrimmages, then what is wrong with your offense?
Right now, Arizona coach Mike Stoops likes what he is seeing from a veteran offense, led by junior quarterback Nick Foles, while saying, “defensively, we have a long way to go.”
Stoops put his team through a scrimmage-like practice Saturday morning at Arizona Stadium, for about 70 plays, and three quarterbacks combined to go 30 of 35 for 269 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“When you get solid quarterback play like we’re getting right now, that really helps,” Stoops said.
“I think we have some playmakers. We hopefully will be able to get some yards, some big yards in chunks. We had to work pretty hard for our yards last year. I like what we’re doing offensively.”
Foles was 15 of 16 for 106 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Juron Criner on a fade pass to the left corner of the end zone.
Matt Scott was 7 of 10 for 72 yards, connecting with receiver Gino Crump on a 34-yard pass over the middle on a crossing pattern for a touchdown. Crump has been one of the most impressive receivers in camp, but it’s OK if you’re asking yourself, “Who’s he?” He’s a 6-2 junior transfer from West Virginia, and the Arizona Daily Star’s Ryan Finley talked to him last week.
While Crump had four receptions for 88 yards, he also caught some grief. Crump beat backup cornerback Mike Turner and hauled in a pass from third-string quarterback Bryson Beirne on a sideline streak, but then Turner punched the ball out and backup free safety Adam Hall recovered.
Beirne was 8 of 9 for 91 yards.
The quarterbacks were not allowed to be tackled, but play was stopped several times on “touch sacks” by the defense. The sports information staff credited defensive end Brooks Reed with two sacks (I had him for four), and also gave two sacks to end Ricky Elmore.
Mostly, Stoops sees the defense, which has to replace seven starters, as a major work in progress.
“Losing all three linebackers … those guys are in the middle of everything,” Stoops said. “That is probably the area that we’re the youngest.
“We’re replacing those guys with three guys who haven’t played much at this level. Just getting them to play at a more rapid speed, see things more quickly, be more sudden as a defense, is what we need to do.”
Mid-year junior college transfers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo have been working with the first team. Senior C.J. Parish, sophomore Jake Fischer, sophomore R.J. Young and redshirt freshman Trevor Erno form a six-way battle for playing time.
“I have an active group of six guys right now who are really, really competitive,” linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Tim Kish said last week. “That is what it is all about. It’s the competition that raises your level of play.”