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Arizona football: Notes from Wildcats’ Spring Showcase

What happened at the team’s de facto spring game?

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats held their “Spring Showcase” on a blustery Thursday evening in Arizona Stadium.

With not a lot of fans in attendance, the overall play felt poor from the sidelines, and Rich Rodriguez had kind of the same sentiment afterwards.

“Well, I thought it was not a very good practice,” Rodriguez stated. “I thought we had four other practices better than this one for whatever reason. There was a lot of standing around and made-for-tv stuff, so we might have another one of these true spring games at the end of the month because this was almost a wasted day.”

“It’s different,” senior running back Zach Green added. “It’s our first spring game within just seven days of practice that we’ve had, and we have about three weeks left to refine our skills, and hopefully at the end of spring ball we’ll be flowing.”

Green says this was only the third practice of the spring with some full-speed live action, which Arizona showcased for about 10-15 minutes on Thursday.

Here are a few things that stood out:

J.J. Taylor’s health

After suffering a broken ankle last year, Taylor is getting close to his old self with the ball.

“If we can keep him healthy, we’ll be okay at tailback,” Rodriguez said.

Taylor had some extremely explosive plays, including one run that he probably would have broken off for a 75-yard touchdown without being touched by a defender in a real game.

“I’m hoping before fall camp,” Taylor said of when he expects to be 100% healthy. “I’m just not quite there yet.”

Current first teams on the depth chart

OFFENSE: Layth Friekh (left tackle), Christian Boettcher (left guard), Nathan Eldridge (center), Jacob Alsadek (right guard), Cody Creason (right tackle), Brandon Dawkins (quarterback), Zach Green (running back), Shawn Poindexter, Cedric Peterson, Tony Ellison, Cam Denson (wide receivers)

DEFENSE: Justin Belknap, Luca Bruno, and Larry Tharpe Jr. (defensive line)
DeAndre’ Miller, Brandon Rutt, and Gavin Robertson Jr. (linebacker)
Jace Whittaker and Dane Cruikshank (corners)
Chacho Ulla, Isaiah Hayes, and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (safeties)

Second team defense:

Defensive line: Marcus Griffin, Finton Connolly, Jack Banda
Linebackers: Corey Selenski, Carrington Vaughn, Tony Fields II
Corners: Lorenzo Burns and Sammy Morrison
Safeties: Jarvis McCall Jr., Anthony Mariscal, and Kwesi Mashack

Before practice started, new athletic director Dave Heeke briefly visited with us individually. He said that he will likely be bouncing back and forth between Tucson and Michigan for the next month or so, even after he officially starts at Arizona on April 1st. His family will not be moving out to Tucson until the summer.

There were about six players in yellow, non-participant jerseys. The most notable of them was offensive lineman Keenan Walker. Brion Anduze and Jalen Cochran also did not practice. Nick Wilson was not at the spring showcase because he was attending a funeral.

The offensive line is still running with just two different units. Michael Eletise was practicing with the team, but struggled in a one-on-one drill against junior college transfer Sione Taufahema. On a related note, Taufahema has been pretty impressive in the two open practices this spring.

During Thursday’s practice, Harper Sherman limped to the sideline favoring his left leg. He was seen leaving crutches for a left leg injury earlier in the spring.

Arizona’s quarterbacks didn’t look particularly impressive on the night. In fact, while running a 7-on-7 passing skeleton drill, they tucked the ball and ran on multiple occasions. Khalil Tate also threw a potential pick-six to Jarvis McCall while running the red zone offense. That pass was the third consecutive pass that was not good in the sequence by the sophomore.

Jamardre Cobb looks like he will be used more lined up at the tight end position than the fullback position. This could be due to Calvin Magee coaching the running backs and tight ends right now.

Arizona will have a true “meet the team” event on April 22nd. This is well after the team’s final scheduled spring practice, which is set for March 31st.