Arizona transfer quarterback Scroggins has leadership qualities the Wildcats need
Arizona junior transfer quarterback Jesse Scroggins is a raw talent with a rocket launcher for an arm. His dynamic abilities perfectly fit the needs of the Wildcats’ potentially electric 2013 offense. That being said, he needs to prove to his observers and himself that his huge arm is worth all the hype.
“I can zing it,” Scroggins said after Arizona’s spring game on Saturday. “I can definitely zing it.”
An athletic quarterback with a big arm is what the Wildcats need this year to go with its already established ground attack. Having a pocket passer who can also be a threat in the open field would fit Arizona’s offensive scheme and bring more balance to the already lively offense.
A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Scroggins chose USC over Arizona in 2010. However, despite his huge arm and All-American status, Scroggins redshirted and played backup behind then-Trojan starter Matt Barkley. He battled pre-season injuries and saw only one snap while in a USC jersey.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat The U of A Fooball team played a scrimage on Saturday that was open to the public. As the last practice of the season, the team practiced different scenarios that they could see in the regular season.
After riding the bench for two seasons, Scroggins had seen enough and transferred to El Camino College in Torrance, Calif. There, Scroggins had some good games and some bad ones, which is expected for a quarterback who hadn’t seen game action in two years. But in eight games with the Warriors, Scroggins completed 48 percent of his passes for 1,148 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.
Now at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Scroggins has the body and mobility of a Jason Campbell with the arm strength of a Randall Cunningham. Incumbent Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker possesses none of those traits, as he is simply known as a scrambler.
This upcoming season is Denker’s second year under head coach Rich Rodriguez’s offense and definitely gives him the upper hand on being the starter.
Scroggins’ lack of familiarity with the offense and playbook clearly showed in Saturday’s spring game as his first pass from scrimmage was intercepted by safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant.
Scroggins admitted that he’s still far from where he needs to be and even told Rodriguez following the interception that he’s “still learning.”
Scroggins gained a lot of attention coming out of high school for not being a one-dimensional pocket passer. With so little game experience, it’s hard to see if the heavier quarterback is still as mobile.
In past years, Rodriguez’s quarterbacks such as Pat White or Denard Robinson have been great dual-threats and forced opposing defenses to account for them in the open field. But last season, Arizona quarterback Matt Scott led the Pac-12 in total offense, and showed you can successfully run the spread-option without putting up eye-popping rushing stats.
Assuming Austin Hill can return from tearing his ACL in time for opening day, whoever is named quarterback will have a deeper, more experienced and more talented wide receiver core than Scott had.
Redshirt senior receiver Terrence Miller knew Scroggins’ first live reps on Saturday weren’t going to be perfect, as he’s yet to build a strong relationship with the team, but Miller already sees great things in the transfer.
“Personality wise, he has just as good of leadership qualities as anybody in the country,” Miller said. “[Scroggins is] a great teammate. He has a lot of potential.”
Scroggins entered college with high expectations. So far he hasn’t come close to meeting them. Since he’s only a redshirt junior, he shouldn’t feel too much pressure to start right away, but he needs to begin to confirm the speculation of his talents that were put in place in high school.
From the very limited college game time experience we’ve seen of him, it’s hard to understand what Arizona has in Scroggins, whereas with Denker it’s more obvious.
Scroggins’ arm and athleticism make him a stronger dual threat option as he will take better advantage of the great wide receiver core the UA has this year.
Every opponent the Wildcats will face will have one big name circled on their defensive scheme for stopping Arizona’s offense, and it won’t be the quarterback. The whole country knows Ka’Deem Carey will be the centerpiece of the Wildcats 2013 offense.
Therefore, Scroggins, a quarterback who will make the offense more dynamic and force the defense to plan a little more around the pass, is the more powerful pick.