Arizona football to hold first scrimmage this Saturday
Freshmen get opportunity to show progression
Mylo Erickson / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior wide receiver Terrence Miller.
Saturday marks the first scrimmage of Arizona’s spring football season as head coach Rich Rodriguez and the rest of the staff will get the chance to evaluate the growth, or regression, of players since the season ended with the Wildcats’ thrilling victory in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl against Nevada.
While it’s not as competitive as the April 13 spring game, Rodriguez said he, and the rest of the staff, want to see how much the redshirt guys have grown up.
Position battles aren’t at stake yet because of all the injuries, but the coaches are still watching closely.
“You can show that you’re more prepared to win,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what we told the guys. I said, ‘Don’t worry about winning a job; prove that we can win with you.’”
Notable redshirt players like wide receiver Trey Griffey, quarterback Javelle Allen, offensive lineman Zach Hemmila and defensive lineman Kyle Kelley will get that opportunity to show if they can make an impact in the upcoming season.
“It’s a big spring for Trey, as it is for some of those other guys who were redshirted,” Rodriguez said. “As I told them all, their redshirt years are over. Now they have to prove themselves, and it’s an important spring for them.”
Hemmila and Kelley were Arizona’s two four-star recruits in 2012, according to Rivals.com and the three-star Allen is fighting in the open competition as quarterback.
Things might be a little tougher for the three-star Griffey, son of MLB legend Ken Griffey Jr. Rodriguez described wide receiver as the deepest position with only senior Dan Buckner leaving. The Wildcats are looking for an eight-man rotation at receiver, though, so the younger wide outs still have a chance to crack to rotation.
“As coach said, there’s not really a position,” Griffey said. “No one’s starting; no one’s really second string or third string. Everybody’s going out there to do their best every day.”
Miller fighting for eligibility
One big reason why Arizona has so much experience at the receiver spot is the potential return of senior Terrence Miller.
Miller made only four appearances last year as an ankle injury derailed the end of the season. Because of the early nature of his injury — he only played once after week three — the senior has a shot at receiving a medical hardship for last season, granting him an extra year of eligibility.
Miller said he qualifies for the added year; it’s now just down to the paper work. Unfortunately, that doesn’t take any of the sting out of the wait.
“It’s nerve-racking,” he said, “but I trust my coaches with what they tell me and stuff, so I’m just out here working hard and trying not to think about it.”
Miller started the season with a bang, grabbing six balls for 80 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime against Toledo. He caught only seven more throws the rest of the season, good for 63 yards and another score.
“The good thing about Terrence is that he can play multiple positions,” Rodriguez said. “He can play H-back. He can play wide receiver. He can play in the slot. He’s a smart, tough guy, and I think he’s going to be one of the real leaders on the team because he was last year, too.”
The 6-foot-4 receiver from Moreno Valley, Calif., likes the opportunity to be a “triple-threat” on offense. But, he also knows the competition is going to be stiff with all of the young players gunning for playing time.
“Those young guys are great; they’re so hungry to play right now,” Miller said. “It keeps us older guys on our toes because you have such athletic dudes behind you. You can’t take days off.”
Pac-12 Networks to show spring football games
Pac-12 Networks announced Wednesday that it will show all 12 spring football games this offseason, including Arizona’s, which is Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m. PST in Sancet Stadium.
With the Wildcats installing synthetic turf in Arizona Stadium, the practice facility venue won’t result in the most viewer-friendly environment. But, it will give some lesser-used players a chance to play under the bright lights — or more accurately, the blazing April sun.
“I think it’s nice for these kids and their families,” Rodriguez said. “Some guys will get some TV time for the first time — and maybe the last time; I don’t know. It’s great for the families to be able to watch them and great that the Pac-12 Network is going to be able to do that.”
“I think our league is getting more exposure now … and that exposure has to be a good thing,” he added.