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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

April 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Review of Pac-12 spring-football camps: Part 4 — Arizona

Starters returning – 15 (5 offense, 10 offense).

Refresher on 2012 – ‘Cats were a bit schizoid in first season under Rich Rodriguez, going 8-5 and winning the New Mexico Bowl with a wild comeback over Nevada. They blistered Oklahoma State early, 59-38, beat USC, lost a heartbreaking overtime game at Stanford, got throttled 66-10 at UCLA and lost their rivalry game to Arizona State. Then they fell behind by three scores to Nevada, caught up, fell behind by three scores again and finally charged back for a 49-48 win. ‘Cats were second in the league with 526 yards total offense a game, but an undersized defense allowed a Pac-12-worst 499 yards a game.

Coaching changesJim Michalczik, WSU grad who has done nine years over two stints at Cal, has joined Rodriguez to coach the offensive line.

Major spring concerns – Development at quarterback with the loss of Matt Scott . . . creating more depth on defense, where some players had to take too many snaps in 2012.

Developments – QB spot seems to be inherited by 6-3, 173-pound senior (and ex-JC transfer) B.J. Denker, who told the Arizona Daily Star, “I’m the smartest guy on the field; nobody knows this offense better than me.” . . . Jesse Scroggins, USC (and JC) transfer, got only some limited 7-on-7 work after foot surgery. He has a reputation for a huge arm . . . there’s opportunity at QB in the fall for four-star recruit Anu Solomon (6-1, 200) who led Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas to a 57-3 record in four years . . . big downer was a torn ACL to Austin Hill – No. 2 behind USC’s Marqise Lee in the Pac-12 in ’12 with 105 receiving yards a game, plus 11 touchdowns — late in the session . . . among spring standouts were DL Kyle Kelley, RB Jared Baker, WR Clive Georges, TE Josh Kern and PK Jake Smith . . . converted WR Richard Morrison seemed to function well at CB . . . ‘Cats had a slew of defenders rehabbing injuries, including CBs Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight and LB Marquis Flowers, which made for a difficult read on that unit . . . Trey Griffey, 6-3, 190-pound RS freshman son of Ken Griffey Jr., should see the field in the fall, although that position is crowded . . . Davonte Neal, Notre Dame transfer SB/KR, is petitioning the NCAA for a waiver that would allow him to play in 2013 . . . RB Ka’deem Carey, who led the NCAA with 1,929 rushing yards last year, has had a turbulent off-season. He faces a July 12 court appearance stemming from a domestic-violence incident, and the Daily Star said he was kicked out of the McKale Center in January after an argument with a police officer. Rodriguez has kept him off-limits to the media.

Spring game – In front of 4,095, Denker completed 13 of 20 passes and UA quarterbacks were a combined 27 of 49 for 349 yards and eight TDs. Rodriguez said 22 players were held out because of injuries and several more saw limited time because of them.

2013 schedule – ‘Cats have three likely wins before their first real test Sept. 28 at Washington. In a fan-unfriendly home schedule, Arizona is on the road for four of its first five league games, playing only one Pac-12 game in Tucson before Nov. 9.

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