Arizona football held its first fall scrimmage under the lights of Arizona Stadium on Sunday night, giving fans their first chance to see the Wildcats compete in a game-like setting.
Head coach Jedd Fisch addressed reporters after the scrimmage to discuss the health of the defensive line, the status of the quarterback competition and the unexpected addition of three more players to the roster.
Here’s a summary of what Fisch said Sunday:
On Fisch’s takeaway from the first fall scrimmage: “Some good, some bad. Normal scrimmage, I think. I told those guys that’s preseason game one, you just don’t have the chance to play another team. So that’s why we had to have the quarterbacks live so they understood what it was like to get hit. That’s why we got to make sure that we mix around team periods, but we had a few guys dinged up on the d-line so we had a couple seven on sevens. But for the most part I think that we competed well throughout. We stayed healthy, we had no injuries and we’re excited to get back at it on Tuesday.”
On concern over health of defensive line: “None. They’ll be healthy for gameday. Everyone will be back for (the BYU opener). Concerned that they’re not practicing, yes. Concerned for their health for opening day, no. We’ll have the entire defensive line. We’ll be back hopefully within the next three to four days, that’s the ultimate goal. For sure they need to be back. Really we were missing (Kyon) Barrs, (JB) Brown, (Trevon) Mason tonight. (Mohamed) Diallo. All four of those guys will be back here soon.”
On the new additions (Diallo, Ma’jon Wright and Carson Cota) to the roster: “From what I understand all three guys have been cleared by compliance and they’re all now on campus. They were all here on the sideline. So we are excited about having those three guys making up the last three guys on the roster. So Ma’jon Wright is here now, Carson Cota is here now, and Mo Diallo are here. So we got a defensive lineman that has a lot of experience, excited to have him here. We have a tight end coming out of high school that I think if it wasn’t for a COVID year, he would have many, many opportunities and we’re very fortunate that we had a relationship with his family. And then we have Ma’jon who wanted to come back. I told him it would have been a lot easier if he never left.”
On their timeline and ability to contribute quickly: “We need to make sure that they get ready to go as quick as possible. We need to get them up to speed. Working on trying to get an understanding of Ma’jon’s situation. I don’t think he’ll be able to compete on Saturdays, I think he’ll just be able to practice with the team. The other two guys will be able to compete on gameday. And then obviously we’ll see. One’s a freshman and then one’s a fifth year player. D-lineman, just go tackle the runner, right? So we’ll try to get them up to speed the best we can and we got to get that tight end set as well.”
On past communication with Diallo: “That started a long time ago, when he decided to become a grad transfer, put himself in the portal. Had a relationship with Coach Brown first. We were trying to work through some details about when he could arrive, what he wanted to get done academically, and then what he needed to get done personally for his family. So he chose to work this summer. And then we had to work some things out to get him here on campus. So we’re excited to get him here though. He’s an impact player for us and we expect that we can get him ready to go at least for a few snaps.”
On whether the quarterback competition is winding down: “I think tonight we’ll have a good idea after we watch the film kind of where we’re heading in that direction. We’ll probably need a couple days to be right, make sure we’re right, confirm that decision as we go. Hopefully, probably by Saturday night the next scrimmage, should be able to have the guy that’s starting taking with the ones. But I like to watch the tape because again, (Will) Plummer threw a beautiful ball and we don’t make the catch. Gunner (Cruz) throws a great ball, we make the catch. (Jordan) McCloud gets a PI but makes a great decision. So we still have to look at how the tape goes and who made the best decisions, who didn’t take sacks, who was able to call plays the fastest, who was able to not fumble the football, avoid penalties. All the things that you need to do to be a starting quarterback in the Pac-12 or any level. And I think we’ll get there. I think we’ll get there soon, sooner rather than later. And then we’ve got to just really start pushing those guys to work together.”
On whether there’s separation in the quarterback competition: “There’s separation, I just don’t know exactly how much separation. I really want to watch our tape before I speak on the exact separation because from my viewpoint on the sideline you don’t really get to see what decisions you were making when they scramble up the A or when they take off or were they going to get sacked. What is that actually going to look like? Gotta look at the end zone copy to see those decisions.”
On facing a similar quarterback situation last fall with the New England Patriots: “I told the guys, I’m fortunate I just came from a place where we just had this issue. Jarrett Stidham was the backup to (Tom) Brady, Brady (leaves). Stidham’s ready to roll. Then Brian Hoyer comes in from another place. Kind of came in, the two of them battled it off, and then in late July Cam Newton showed up. Then it went a third, a third, a third for 14 days and then when we made a decision, we made a decision. So I literally feel like I’m déjà vuing minus the fact that we don’t have Cam Newton. So other than that one part of it I feel like I’m in déjà vu.”