The Arizona Wildcats had yet another practice open for observation, and what I observed was a bunch of dudes walking the sidelines in yellow jerseys.
The Wildcats, especially the starting defense, are hurting big time right now. In addition to Jared Tevis, who has sat out the last few days, Reggie Gilbert is now hurt. Gilbert has an injured left foot, and was in a walking boot and using crutches Saturday night.
"We're gonna rest him for a few days and see what happens," Rich Rodriguez said afterwards.
There are several other injured second and third teamers, and Tra'Mayne Bondurant has not returned to the field yet. This has resulted in a significant loss of depth for the defense during practice. Johnny Jackson, typically a receiver, is now trying out corner back because of this. He got a pass deflection tonight.
Also a notable injury during practice tonight was Jared Baker. After bouncing a carry out to the sideline and almost breaking out a huge run, Baker was tripped up along the sideline, and appeared to tweak his left knee. That is the same knee he injured last year. The running back did not take another snap the rest of practice after that.
QB Pecking Order
I get that there's still three weeks until the first game, and not a lot of the offense has been installed yet, but it looks like that battle might be down to two or three players.
Anu Solomon, who took the majority of first-team snaps on Wednesday, took all of them on Saturday. He also looks the most consistent out there, but he does make mistakes, some of them major, just as the rest of the guys do.
Jesse Scroggins is right there with Solomon in my opinion. Scroggins was second in the pecking order on Saturday, moving up a spot from Wednesday. He brings more speed than Solomon, but Solomon's accuracy has been better for the most part.
After that is Connor Brewer and Jerrard Randall. Randall definitely has those "I'm lost" moments out there, which is to be expected from the guy who has had the least amount of time in the system.
"His world is spinning every which way right now," coach Rodriguez said of Randall. "He's obviously got some talent, and it's very important to him. The one thing I like is that it does bother him when he makes a mistake. Some guys, it doesn't look like it bothers them when they make a mistake, but it bothers him a great deal, so we'll keep working him."
Randall did have a nice drive towards the end of practice. He capped that off with a touchdown run up the middle after a good read of the defensive rush. It was the only drive he played during the semi-live 11-on-11 portion of the night.
There were three quarterbacks in red jerseys, and as coach Rodriguez explained, those red jerseys go to the guys who are performing the best.
"Normally I take the top two or three guys and put 'em in the red jerseys the whole camp. It depends on their state. If they hesitate to run at certain times during practice, I'll take it off of 'em until they can show me they're willing to run. I don't think our guys have to run, I don't want them to have to get hit, but I want them to be willing to if that's what it takes to win."
Those three were Solomon, Scroggins, and Brewer.
"It might be a different three Monday," Rodriguez added.
Coach did say there was a chance after watching the film of today's practice that they were "going to flip guys around a little bit."
"Like any other position, it's based on performance," Rodriguez continued. "What we can't have is egregious errors, like total brain spasms. So that part we're still having each guy doing at least one of those every practice, so we gotta eliminate that."
RB pecking order
Here's a look at the order of running backs during practice.
1. Terris Jones-Grigsby
2. Jared Baker (until he hurt his knee)
3. Zach Green
4. Ty Cruz
5. Adonis Smith
6. Jonathan Haden
There was a rookie-only session tonight, and Haden was impressive during that. If not for a holding penalty, he would have had an extremely long touchdown run in which he just ran away from the entire defense.
Adonis Smith looked pretty impressive tonight too when he got his chances. Even though it's not going to be just one guy like it was with Ka'Deem, Arizona seems to be just fine at the running back position.
Keoni Bush-Loo not making friends
Bush-Loo had an interesting ten minutes or so. First, after a Connor Brewer scramble, the two got in each other's face, and Bush-Loo gave Brewer a pretty hard shove. Brewer did not take another snap the rest of practice after that.
Then, a drive or two later, Bush-Loo got back to Jesse Scroggins late and appeared to step on his foot, hobbling Scroggins for several plays afterwards.
A couple random notes here:
- Jarvis McCall Jr. is going to get some serious time at cornerback it looks like. And the dude can hit. Super impressed with how he's looked so far.
- DaVonte' Neal's role will likely include a lot of kick returns, holding field goals, and sweep plays. He's been struggling with catching the ball while running routes this week.
- 2015 offensive lineman Nathan Eldridge was at practice and committed to Rodriguez after practice. Eldridge currently attends Boulder Creek HS in Anthem.
- For the second time this week, the team ended practice with players who aren't used to fielding punts doing just that. This time it was the linebackers. Antonio Smothers saved the team from having to run sprints by catching the last ball cleanly, although it was the "worst technique ever seen" by coach Rodriguez.