From coaches, from quarterbacks, from running backs and receivers, there was one often-repeated word through spring practice.
Arizona tried to be too many things on offense last season. Using two coordinators, the Wildcats tried to marry a four-wide spread passing game with a “heavy” power running game featuring fullbacks, tight ends and H-backs.
“I think last year, we did a little bit too much,” said Seth Littrell, who is the lone coordinator after the departure of Bill Bedenbaugh to West Virginia.
“It’s one thing for us as coaches to sit there in the film room and scheme and run everything. There are a lot of good plays, a lot of ways to skin a cat.
“But at the same time, it’s very important for players to understand and to know how to adjust to the game. When you’re doing so much, and (the defense) is giving you a lot of different looks, it’s hard to get 11 guys on the same page.”
Even head coach Mike Stoops said late in the season that it was difficult to recruit the differing personnel to fit both schemes … and, let’s face it, that power running game flopped. When the quarterback was under center, we all knew the Wildcats were going to hand off, right?
Arizona has taken the best of its attack — up-tempo, shotgun, four receivers — and is going to hang its hat on that quick passing game this season.
Instead of doing it all, the Cats will try to be really, really good at one thing.
“It means we’re going to go out and play pick-up football and just let our athletes be athletes. Try to limit the thinking,” said quarterback Bryson Beirne.
“We’re just going to get the ball out there to our guys — 15 and 82 (wide receivers Juron Criner and Dan Buckner) — and just let them score touchdowns. Our job is to just give it to them. It’s not very hard if they’re that good.”
And the less-complicated approach is good for an all-new starting offensive line with a new position coach, Robert Anae.
“He’s simplified everything for us because we’re a younger group,” said guard Trace Biskin. “What he has done is make it easier as a whole, schematically. As long as we can perfect that, it will help us down the road.”
Arizona didn’t use its up-tempo approach in Saturday’s scrimmage, but that will be an emphasis through informal summer workouts. When the Wildcats reconvene for fall camp, they can expect to practice at a faster pace, too.
It sounds as if Littrell has an offseason slogan:
“Play fast, play physical and have fun,” he said.