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What Jedd Fisch, Jayden de Laura and Christian Young said after Arizona’s Spring Game

arizona-wildcats-football-spring-practice-scrimmage-jedd-fisch-christian-young-jayden-delaura-2022 Arizona Athletics

Arizona wrapped up an important part of the offseason on Saturday afternoon with its Spring Game inside Arizona Stadium. Several thousand fans, including more than 250 former UA players, watched the Red Team score a 24-21 win over Team Blue while those closest to the field were regularly doused with water guns and hoses.

Offenisve touchdowns were scored by freshmen Keyan Burnett, AJ Jones and Tetairoa McMillan as well as Arizona women’s basketball star Sam Thomas, while Jaxen Turner had a 90-yard pick-six off a pass from Jordan McCloud and Tyler Loop connected on a 45-yard field goal as well as all five extra-point attempts.

The made-for-TV scrimmage, which included a running clock and 12-minute quarters, was completed in less than two hours. Afterward, coach Jedd Fisch, quarterback Jayden de Laura and safety Christian Young discussed how the Spring Game went:

Fisch on avoiding Spring Game injuries after Jamarye Joioner was hurt late in last season’s game: “We tried to stay healthy, which we did. I saw no injuries today at all, which is a very good positive going into the summer training program.”

On his assessment of the team based on this scrimmage: “I know we have a long, long way to go, but I think we had some playmakers out there today which was fun to see. And then we just have to just get better here in the next four or five months.”

On being happy about the defense recording 25 takeaways in the spring (including two on Saturday) while also concerned about the offense turning it over: “We’re trying to get our quarterbacks not to turn it over, either, so it’s a double whammy. So what we want to do is we understand that we have to protect the ball and we have to take the ball. And in turn that’s going to happen in these practices. Because what would be horrible is if we had no takeaways. We went through training camp last year and had two picks. We can’t have that, we have to see it. I love the way our guys are attacking the ball, and I’m proud of our defense, and we got to continue to clean it up offensively. And not give the ball away. We’re gonna be committed to doing that.”

On several pass interference calls: “We had the Pac-12 officiating crew, so we had a crew that we’re going to be needing to deal with. And I think it’s really good for our team, to be able to see that some of the calls that aren’t made at practice are made. Our guys have to understand that when you play as much one-on-one man coverage or 3-deep zone, that you can’t assume that every play is not going to be a PI, which kind of happens at practice. So I thought it was really good for our guys to see that some of those calls are called. I think it’s really good on film to be able to show those guys that hey, this is a penalty, even if it’s not called in practice.”

On freshman QB Noah Fifita: “We say that the three biggest traits of a quarterback is decision-making, timing and accuracy. So decisiveness, to me, puts in both one and two. What impresses me is he’s got great command of the offense. He’s got great control of the huddle. And when you see him play, I mean, the ball comes out of his hand, flies out of his hand, but the guy knows exactly where to go with the ball. And he does it with great rhythm and timing.”

On de Laura and Fifita picking up the system: “I think they’ve both done a great job of learning the system. I think what they’ve done is they’ve really embraced it. We haven’t cut anything back. We’ve been able to kind of try to find some of their strengths and play to their strengths. But I think in general, I think they did a really nice job of picking things up. We didn’t have to hold anything back.”

On Thomas’ TD catch: “Red zone threat. You guys have been all over me all spring about height in the red zone, red zone threat, length, and she showed that she has the ability to do that.”

On not officially ending the quarterback competition yet: “We’re not gonna put a (post-spring) depth chart out. But as I’ve said to you guys the whole time, I mean, we got ones, twos and threes and you guys are out of practice. There’s so many position groups, you start naming one starter in spring, and then it’s like, well, who’s gonna be the starting (running) back or who’s gonna be the starting receiver? I think our team has a really good feel where we’re going with it. I think Jayden has certainly proven that he can lead our team.”

On what the defensive newcomers who arrive this summer—including eight freshmen signees—will have to learn when they show up: “I think we’re gonna play multiple fronts and multiple coverages. So what you have to do if you’re multiple coverage defense, you’re gonna have to be able to adjust multiple formations. And what you have to adjust to in college football is tempo, different formations, unbalanced formations, exotic formations, which are some of the things you don’t necessarily have to adjust to as much in the NFL. So I think Johnny (Nansen) has got a great grasp. He’s coaching college football, the Pac-12 almost his entire career. So I think those kids have to just continue to believe and trust. They have to have great zone eyes if we’re playing zone, they have to be aggressive to the ball when we’re playing man.”

On the No. 1 jersey: “Yeah, one is up for grabs (on offense). I think there’s a certain etiquette when it comes to the number one, that Jalen (Harris) played with all last year. Never missed a game, never misses practice. So he will maintain number one on defense. He’s been here six years. And then on offense, that thing’s up for grabs right now and there’s a lot of people asking for it. We’ll wait until camp.”

On QB Will Plummer: “Will had to get his shoulder fixed from probably back in the Cal game. We tried to go through a more conservative approach early on, because it’s his throwing shoulder, not something that you’d necessarily want to have to fix, but made a decision this past week to fix it yesterday, and from all accounts it was successful, but now we just have to wait and see. I do expect him back sometime, probably end of August through the end of September somewhere in that range.”

On OL Jacob Reece: “Right now at this point in time, what he said is actually where we’re at. So it was all diagnosed upon arriving here. I can’t tell you how appreciated I am to our medical staff for finding it in his physical the day he got here. We immediately went into protocols. And at this point in time, a decision needs to be made after all the testing is completed. We should have a pretty good feel in the next seven to 10 days where we’ll be headed.”

Young on how the defense will be better in 2022: “Running more zone, and things like that, will help us out as a secondary and as a whole defense, to create more turnovers. When you create turnovers you win. I feel like that’s the biggest difference.”

On Turner’s pick-six, despite it being for the other team: “I was happy for him. I told the whole secondary before the Spring Game, I hope all of us succeed.”

On Arizona having a turnover chair: “It’s sitting in the defensive meeting room, so whoever gets the most turnovers gets to sit in it. I think we might bring it out here to the field. It’s red with gold on the outside. A throne-type thing.”

On why McMillan drew so many pass interference penalties: “He’s 6-4, can catch the ball outside his body. That’s not easy to guard.”

On having a good crowd for the Spring Game: “It’s eye-opening for me. There’s so much more energy.”

De Laura on throwing an interception on his first drive: “Second play, we were all off on the whole play, I mean I shouldn’t have threw that, so it’s on me. I’ll take 100 percent credit for that.”

On the play of the other quarterbacks: “All in all, though, I felt like everybody else did good. Noah did really good, McCloud did really good, too, today. Gunner (Cruz), for only taking two reps of 7-on-7 the whole entire spring, he actually did good.”

On how the offense can avoid turnovers: “Better decision-making, and just get it on the same page and receivers. Once we’re on the same page with everybody on how we run the routes and everything I feel like, sky’s the limit for our offense. We’ve obviously been getting glimpses of what our defense can do.”

On the importances of player-run practices between now and the start of preseason camp: “Really important. Just to show everybody that we can lead as a group, the quarterback group, we can lead, and just building the trust in the quarterback room as a whole. We understand what we’re running, we can go out there and teach it to the other guys.”

On getting comfortable playing under center: “Probably the first week was kind of rough, and going into the second week was uneasy a little here and there, and then after that, I feel like I’ve been doing really well under center.”

On the last time he played football with a tight end: “Madden.”

On Fisch not naming a starting QB, or releasing a post-spring depth chart: “That doesn’t bother me.”