April 7, 2006
Tucson, AZ (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Fluid. Clean. Crisp. Whatever you want to call it, the Arizona football team is quickly becoming it, as almost two weeks into spring practice things are starting to click for the Wildcats on both sides of the ball.
"We keep expanding," Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said. "Each time we step on the field, we try to implement new plays, new defenses, new adjustments to certain formations.
"We're constantly trying to show some looks, some different looks, trying to cover some stuff that gave us problems last year, trying to get in more stuff each day. We're throwing a lot of stuff at our kids."
Nearly 80 percent of the offense has been implemented thus far and it will be put to the test tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in a 100- to 110-play scrimmage at Arizona Stadium that pits the offense against the defense.
"I'm starting to get more fluid and everything, but everybody looked real good all last week," said redshirt sophomore running back Chris Henry, who had 18 carries for 53 yards Saturday.
Henry isn't the only one noticing an offense that's beginning to gel.
"My guys know what they're doing on routes against every single coverage and all that," freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama said. "And that's big because if the receivers and myself are on the same page, it's a real big advantage.
"Basically, we just got to keep working on that."
Stoops was excited with the progress he has seen from the players progressing through his system.
"Each year, we seem to get a little quicker, a little faster, a little stronger," he said. "The kids are able to execute things a little better. We're just further along in our program."
The scrimmage will provide another opportunity for full contact, something seen by the team last week for the first time since November.
It's always good to be able to get in a scrimmage because the tempo is way different than practice," Henry said. "You're fully tackling, everybody's following all the way through, there's no pulling up, there's no 'I would've had you, I would've done this.'
"It's either you did or you didn't in scrimmage."
Tuitama said it was more than just the hitting that makes the scrimmages exciting.
"When the fans come out and watch, it kind of makes it a little different environment than just practice," he said.
Freshman wide receiver Mike Thomas dislocated a finger and is questionable for the scrimmage, as is junior offensive lineman Adam Hawes, Stoops said.
With the first scrimmage of the spring under their belt, expectations will be elevated.
"Since it's the second scrimmage, you always want it to be a lot more crisp, and (you want) everyone (to be) gelling and going together a lot more than the first week," Henry said. "You just want everyone to be more on point, a lot less missed assignments, a lot less mental errors. You just try to be more precise."
True to his form that is quickly winning the hearts of Wildcat faithful everywhere, Tuitama would like to improve his individual performance come tomorrow morning, despite finishing a respectable 10-of-17 for 128 yards and a score and an interception last week.
"Last time, we only put the ball in the end zone one time, and myself, I think I had three or four drives," he said. "My goal on every drive is to score, so basically I'm just going to try my best to make that happen."
That confidence exuded by the unquestioned starting quarterback has quickly spread between his teammates.
"I think right now, we're real confident," Henry said. "We just have to transfer it to the field -- game time -- and once we do that, we're going to be a great team.
"There's always signs of greatness from our team - always. We just got to do it at a more consistent level, and we'll be all right."
Even with a confident team, Stoops realizes there's still a lot of work to be done.
"Offensively, I think you don't see the polish you would like, just because we are offensively taking a lot of reps, and defensively, when you get to see what they're doing, it gets easier to play against your own offense when you practice against them every day," he said. "I hope we can get some things accomplished (tomorrow) and have a cleaner scrimmage."
"The big thing is just get a lot of good work and get out of it healthy."
(C) 2006 Arizona Daily Wildcat via CSTV U-WIRE