Last season, Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats didn't use a traditional tight end on offense. In some instances, they were forced to use WR Austin Hill at the position. Things will be different this year. In Friday's annual spring game, the tight ends saw plenty of action, and showed off their unique skill sets.
On the first drive of the spring game, Anu Solomon connected with Josh Kern three times. Kern served as sort of a safety valve for Solomon, as Anu would look to the tight end when he was under pressure and needed to get rid of the ball.
Kern finished with five catches for 31 yards.
RichRod joked that Kern's workload might've been too much for him to handle."He got a little gassed. He had more catches by a tight end in the history of Arizona football, maybe than even when Gronk was here."
Kern certainly is no Gronk, but he'll undoubtedly be able to provide a nice, big, reliable target for Arizona's quarterbacks.
While Kern served as a safety valve and a reliable possession receiver, Trevor Wood showed that he has enough speed to stretch the field when he reeled in a 24 yard touchdown pass down the seam from Jerrard Randall. Wood finished with two catches for 28 yards. The 6'5" 250 pound sophomore could become a matchup problem for opposing defenses as he may be too quick for linebackers to cover, yet too big for corners or safeties to matchup with.
The unique and complimentary skill sets of Arizona's tight ends will not only help the passing game, they'll also allow the offense to be a bit more versatile. "We can bring in multiple packages and we can [keep] them in for extra protection", Anu Solomon said after the game.
And who knows, we may even see a trick play including current tight end, and former quarterback Matt Morin.
The tight ends could also help out Arizona's defense too.
Senior safety, William Parks, mentioned after the game that opposing tight ends have often given Arizona's defense issues in the past. However, having these tight ends to practice against should help them improve in the future.
"Tackling those guys out here in practice and things like that will just help us out come game time" Parks said.
Parks likes the addition of these tight ends and was especially impressed by their athleticism.
"We haven’t used tight ends in a while, and now you see the tight ends out in the flat, and up the seams, catching the ball, running a 4.4 out there, so I'm pretty happy for them", Parks added.
How do these tight ends compare to those in the conference? Parks answered "The tight ends in the Pac-12 are big, but they’re not that big and athletic like that".