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Arizona football spring game: A ground-up rebuild begins

The Arizona football team got more than most could've asked for in Rich Rodriguez's first year, but with Matt Scott gone, reality might ask Wildcats fans for patience.


Don't let last season fool you. The Arizona Wildcats are at the foundation of rebuilding a football team. It was less than a semester ago that a depth-lacking football team mustered everything out of Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey and Austin Hill to win seven games and then pull out a win in the New Mexico Bowl.

Carey has since gotten into some legal trouble and Scott is off to better things in the NFL. In news that overshadowed anything that happened on the field Saturday, All-Pac-12 receiver Austin Hill missed the scrimmage with a knee injury that was afterward admitted to be an ACL tear.

And with the team's freshmen yet to arrive and Rich Rodriguez holding out any injured players, the Wildcats are hard to gauge by a low-key spring game.

Rodriguez said the game didn't include more than a couple coverages and was, in short, "generic." So with the players he had, Arizona showed little.

The good news

If there was any unit that stood out, Arizona's offensive line showed discipline and at the very least, consistency. The big guys opened holes early and often for UA's backs. At the same time, the offensive line also protected the quarterbacks very well aside from one breakdown that led to a Dame Ndiaye sack.

The receiver group was also solid. But that isn't a surprise considering the first team group that ran out at the spring game included Johnny Jackson, Tyler Slavin, Terrence Miller (more on him below) and Dave Richards.

The bad news

Outside of the awful news of Hill's injury, the bad news was that, well, the quarterback situation appears to be a problem. Where it's hard to judge how much work the different groups on defense would need heading into summer, it was clear that B.J. Denker is no Scott.

Neither is USC transfer Jesse Scroggins, who had a notably stronger arm -- that was expected -- but even less accuracy than Denker.

Likely, Anu Solomon will have a shot at starting, as will Javelle Allen and Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham.

Carey sits

Ka'Deem Carey didn't participate in the spring game, whether it be because of his ongoing legal issues or because he truly was going to be protected, as the team said, according to the Arizona Daily Star. If there's reason to wonder about who backs Carey up or starts in his place once the 2013 season hits, don't think Saturday cleared any of that up.

The running back depth chart appeared chronologically as follows:

  1. Jared Baker
  2. Terris Jones
  3. Kylan Butler
  4. Rochon Taylor

Hobson, Miller return

Two of the more disappointing injuries from last season are apparently no longer issues. Despite RichRod holding his injured players out, Hank Hobson started at linebacker after missing the end of last year following a freak neck injury in the UCLA game.

Meanwhile, Terrence Miller returned from another injury-plagued season and appears to have a medical hardship granted his way for a fifth season as a Wildcat.

Welcome home

Members of Arizona's past football teams enjoyed the scrimmage from the sidelines. Many were in town to celebrate former UA coach Dick Tomey's 75th birthday.