Column: Answering Arizona's quarterback situation
Arizona’s annual spring football game did not change what Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez has been saying all spring: No one has separated himself as the team’s starting quarterback.
However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few standouts among quarterbacks on Saturday.
After B.J. Denker used the spring to help earn the starting spot last season; there’s no doubt that Rodriguez could use a bit of the same this spring. The quarterback who fits that bill the best is redshirt senior Jesse Scroggins.
Coaches and players alike have said all spring that Scroggins looks like a different player compared to a year ago. They praise his arm strength and improved knowledge of the game.
“Jesse Scroggins is a great quarterback,” redshirt sophomore wide receiver DaVonte’ Neal said. “He has a great arm and some speed. He has good vision and he takes on a leadership role very well.”
On Saturday, Scroggins played four series on offense and showed fluidity in the pocket. He was accurate on some of the intermediate routes and Scroggins managed to scramble for positive yards when a play broke down.
Three of his four drives resulted in scores, with the lone non-scoring possession ending in an interception on an overthrown ball in the back of the end zone.
Scroggins wasn’t the only quarterback who impressed on Saturday. Both redshirt freshman Anu Solomon and redshirt sophomore Connor Brewer built on their solid performances throughout the spring.
Solomon also played four series and led all six quarterbacks with 74 yards, to go along with two touchdown passes. A consistent theme among Solomon’s time was the ability to work outside the pocket.
“Anu [Solomon] is always making plays on the run,” redshirt sophomore Cayleb Jones said. “He’s a good athlete and he’s very smart.”
Having the ability to make something out of nothing is huge and vital in Arizona’s high tempo offense. That’s essentially what made Denker so dangerous last season. At any time he could pick up big yards with his legs.
Solomon and Scroggins aren’t nearly as shifty as Denker was, but they have the same instincts to scramble when necessary.
Brewer did not scramble as much, but did show a different look than some of the other quarterbacks by staying more in the pocket. The highlight of his day came on a touchdown throw during his last series of the spring game. Brewer used a double move from redshirt freshman Abraham Mendivil to freeze the defense and score the touchdown.
The coaches chose to keep the throws simple and didn’t show much in terms of what the offense will look like come fall, which was to be expected.
Having to find a new starting quarterback is never ideal, but Rodriguez has to appreciate the progress made by his quarterbacks this spring.
“Most of [the quarterbacks] have helped from the standpoint that we’re getting more confidence that they can run the system,” Rodriguez said.
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555