ANALYSIS: Five takeaways from Arizona football's Spring Game
In the Arizona football annual Spring Game on Saturday evening, the Wildcats got a chance to showcase a little bit of what to expect come next fall.
“We played a lot of young guns,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “I’m happy with what we got done.”
Here are three quick observations from the Team White vs. Team Blue Wildcat showdown.
1. Quarterback depth chart takes shape
Although the reps were split throughout the game between all six of the quarterbacks on the roster, with Khalil Tate only getting a few series, he looked as though he was proving what everyone believes: that he is QB1 heading into next season.
“Whenever you’re a competitor, you want to play as much as you can," Tate said.
The senior looked sharped all night, particularly early on, when he connected with redshirt junior Devaughn Cooper on the second play of the game for an 83-yard touchdown. While the other quarterbacks seemed shaky at times, Tate looked like the best of the bunch. Meanwhile, highly touted freshman Grant Gunnell seemed to put himself in line for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart with some strong drives in both halves.
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“I thought the quarterbacks, the young guys, got plenty of snaps, some good, some bad,” Sumlin said. “We wanted to put them out there in front of a crowd, put the pressure on them and have them operate.”
2. Defense dominates
The defensive intensity was noticeable, especially in the secondary. A group that struggled for a majority of the last season, the secondaries for both sides were bringing it, but especially on the white team, where sophomore McKenzie Barnes had two interceptions in the first half. While the intensity did taper down a bit in the second half, if the Wildcats can play defensively the way that they were in the first half, this season will be an improvement on that side of the ball.
3. Overall atmosphere
Throughout the spring practices, the Wildcats were adamant they are not the same team that finished with a 5-7 record last season. It showed: the team seemed to be excited, fired up after big plays and running around with an enthusiasm it didn’t seem to have at points last season. While it was just the spring game, if they can bring that type of attitude, they could end up having a lot of fun when the games start to mean something.
4. McCauley earns scholarship
Josh McCauley started every game at center last season for the Wildcats, helping anchor the Pac-12's top rushing attack, yet he wasn't a scholarship player. That changed all prior to the Spring Game, though, as Sumlin awarded the redshirt junior one in the pregame meeting.
5. Summer is coming
Now that the Spring Game has concluded, so has the spring practice session, and the team will break for summer training in a matter of weeks. Fall camp will likely begin sometime in late July-early August in preparation for the season opener on Aug. 24 at Hawaii.
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