Football is back!
The Arizona Wildcats held their first fall practice on Thursday night. While it’s never a good idea to read into the very first practice, there were still a few newsworthy things that are worth sharing.
- The splitting of first team reps between quarterbacks is real. Anu Solomon and Brandon Dawkins were the only two in red non-contact jerseys, and they were taking a pretty equal share of the snaps with the first and second team offensive lines. While neither particularly stood out from the other on the first day, I’d still be surprised if it’s not Anu starting against BYU barring injury.
- If you want an early frontrunner for the starting center job, it’s Zach Hemmila. Which is not surprising given he had tons of experience on the scout team last year and has been working on center things for well over a year now.
- If you want a player on the defensive side of the ball that’s going to be a breakout-type guy, it’s corner Dane Cruikshank. Though he did injure his right foot towards the end of the night.
- Cal transfer Michael Barton will make a significant impact at linebacker. He was reading the quarterbacks’ eyes very well and was able to jump on passes over the middle. Another Cal transfer, Freddie Tagaloa, still has some work to do to work his way onto the first-team offensive line as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
- I know this comes up every year, but the tight ends look really good, especially Trevor Wood. He told me he’s been 100% since the start of summer with regards to his shoulder, and that the entire group has taken their games to the next level. Matt Morin looked like he suffered a nasty cramp at one point. And Jamie Nunley is obviously working on ball security, rumbling down the field with both hands wrapped around the pigskin.
- As far as receiver, the guy that stood out to me was Shawn Poindexter, and not just because he’s 6-foot-6. He looks like a dude that could become a deadly weapon for this team right away. Freshman Devaughn Cooper also looks good, but also lined up on the wrong side of the line quite often at the beginning of practice.
- While there are legitimate concerns about the defensive line, I will say that something as simple as them shifting one gap just before the snap seemed to have a huge impact on the amount of pressure they were able to put on the quarterbacks. Both Francisco Nelson and Jalen Cochran are listed as linebackers, but were going through all of the defensive line drills. Also mislisted is Paul Magloire, who is listed as a safety, but played linebacker.
- Notable absences from practice were Kahi Neves, John Kenny and Keenan Walker. Rich Rodriguez said that Walker’s absence was due to injury and internal decisions, and that he’s not in camp. Neves was finishing up a class, and Kenny was at a funeral. Tellas Jones was a full participant after missing the entire spring.
- Arizona is back in action on Friday, but the entire practice won’t be open, so we won’t be able to share as much. Next Saturday is the next fully open practice.