What to watch for in Spring Football game

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Angela Martinez | The Daily Wildcat Arizona's Khalil Tate takes the ball down the field during the Spring Game on Saturday, April 14 at Arizona Stadium.

Watch the Arizona football team begin the 2019 season with its annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 13, at 5 p.m. in Arizona Stadium. Admission is free and will include an autograph session after the game. 

Parking is $5 and a fan fest will take place at Bear Down Field right outside the stadium at 2:30 p.m.

If you can’t attend, the game will be streamed on the Pac-12 Network.

The roster is headlined by returning players like linebacker Colin Schooler, senior quarterback Khalil Tate and All-American running back J.J. Taylor.

Arizona will also be supported by a talented freshman quarterback Grant Gunnell, who is the all-time passing leader in Texas Prep history. Four-star recruit and wide receiver Jalen Curry will continue his chemistry with Gunnell, as the former high school teammates look to be the future cornerstone of this team. 

Here’s a rundown of three things to keep an eye on at the game:

Quarterback reps

While Tate is assumed to enter the 2019 season as Arizona’s starting quarterback, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone doesn’t plan on treating the senior as QB1.

“We’re going to give everybody equal shots,” Mazzone said earlier this spring. “Everybody’s going to go in. We rotate them all through. They pretty much all get the same amount of reps. It’s a pretty level playing field right now.”

This means Gunnell, as well as junior Rhett Rodriguez and sophomore Jamarye Joiner, should see increased playing time in the spring practices.

Where’s the beef?

The defensive line is still a work in progress, as the team looks to replace 300-pounder PJ Johnson after losing him to the NFL Draft list. Junior college transfer Myles Tapusoa is out with an undisclosed injury, and another JUCO lineman, Trevon Mason, won’t be on campus until summer. This means JB Brown will likely have a big role on the interior of the defense. Listed at 258 pounds, the junior moved from defensive end to defensive tackle in hopes of adding more size.

“Finton Connolly has been doing a nice job” on the inside of the line, according to head coach Kevin Sumlin. 

Jalen Harris will be placed as an edge-rusher, according to Sumlin. Starting spring practices around 240 pounds leaves the junior still a little undersized, but he said his goal is to be up to 250 soon.

Straightening out the corners 

After missing the majority of the 2018 season with injury, senior cornerback Jace Whittaker will be looked upon as the team’s top cover man, but newcomers will be making a push for rotational spots. Jaden Mitchell and Christian Roland-Wallace are a few names to keep on eye on. 

“He’s athletic,” Sumlin said of Roland-Wallace. “And the thing that’s really surprised everybody: He’s been playing corner, he can run, he can jump.”


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