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Arizona Wildcats spring game: A primer

B.J. Denker

B.J. Denker throws a pass in the Phoenix scrimmage. Photo by Pat Shannahan/azcentral sports

The Arizona Wildcats will hold their spring game Saturday, usually a time when coaches want to see what the younger guys can do.

One problem for coach Rich Rodriguez.

“We’re so low on numbers we have to play more of the upperclassmen than normal just to have a scrimmage,” he said.

Still, don’t expect to see a lot of All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey (if at all) as the Cats prepare to run 60 or so plays at Kindall/Sancet Stadium on campus. Admission is free; the Pac-12 Networks will televise the scrimmage starting at 1 p.m.

Here are some things to watch:

–Wide receiver Austin Hill’s status.

Lots of internet gossip about Hill in the past couple of days regarding a knee injury suffered in Wednesday’s practice. Arizona doesn’t typically divulge much about injuries, but Rodriguez might have to address this after the scrimmage.

Hill is coming off a brilliant sophomore season in which he caught 81 passes for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns.

At outside receiver, look for Terrence Miller, Tyler Slavin and redshirt freshman Trey Griffey.

–New uniforms
Arizona would have like to have unveiled its new uniforms this week, but it looks like the debut will have to wait.

“I don’t know when that is going on,” Rodriguez said Wednesday. “There are still some things we’re talking with Nike about, and some new NCAA rules on uniforms that we’re working through.”

–The quarterback battle
Nothing will be settled until the fall, when junior college transfer Jesse Scroggins is healthy and freshman Anu Solomon arrives. In the meantime, senior B.J. Denker can at least build personal momentum heading into summer workouts.

“B.J. Denker has had a very productive spring,” offensive coordinator Rod Smith said last week.

“I think he’s been pretty sharp lately. He still has some things we need to continue to get better at and work on. I’ve been pleased with his progress. He probably has the greatest grasp of what we’re doing offensively. He understands where the ball needs to go and what it needs to do at certain times.”

Redshirt freshman Javelle Allen should take backup reps, and we’ll see if Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham, who has been banged up and missed the scrimmage in Phoenix on March 29, will play.

Scroggins, following foot surgery, is out of his walking boot and has been throwing at practice, but he’s not ready for live action.

–A more aggressive defense
The Wildcats where thin and inexperienced last season, while learning the new 3-3-5 scheme of coordinator Jeff Casteel. Arizona had its hands full just trying to survive and run the base defense.

Just about everyone of note is back on that side of the ball, and Rodriguez hopes the Cats can be more multiple and be more in attack mode.

“We want to kind of turn them loose a little bit,” Rodriguez said.

“When you’re learning a new defense, you’re hesitant because you’re not sure where to go. We want to reiterate our base defense but also bring some pressure and let them turn it loose a little bit.”

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