Today, our third part of the series on Pac-12 spring camps features Arizona.
Starters returning: 13 (7 offense, 6 defense), plus P Drew Riggleman.
Refresher on 2013: In an up-and-down season, Wildcats got off to a 6-2 start as first-year QB B.J. Denker grew into his role. Then they suffered a close home loss to UCLA and were ambushed by 13-point underdog Washington State in Tucson. What followed typified Arizona’s 8-5 year: The Wildcats swamped fifth-ranked Oregon, 42-16, then fell to Arizona State, 58-21. They finished with a blowout win over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.
Coaching changes: No major moves.
Spring concerns: Sorting out several candidates to replace Denker, finding a running back after the departure of all-star Ka’Deem Carey, developing replacements on the DL and linebackers.
Developments: QB remained murky entering summer as five candidates dueled and coach Rich Rodriguez ended the session saying, “I’m not being coy, but I want to see what they do in August and throughout the summer.” . . . USC transfer Jesse Scroggins made big strides at QB, RS freshman Anu Solomon improved, and Texas transfer Connor Brewer is in the hunt. So is 6-1, 190-pound former LSU QB Jerrard Randall, who has the best arm and running ability . . . RB seems wide-open, and four-star recruit Nick Wilson probably will get a long look in the fall . . . ‘Cats thought to have the deepest WR cast in the conference, headed by Austin Hill, who looked to have fully recovered from a knee injury after catching 81 balls for 1,364 yards in 2012 . . . Trey Griffey, son of Ken Griffey Jr., is among the strong WR corps, and comes off a two-TD game in the bowl . . . boosting the WR corps is Texas transfer Cayleb Jones and DaVonte Neal, Notre Dame transfer . . . Neal and WR Samajie Grant got some snaps at RB and given the questions there, could see action in the backfield . . . only one OL spot is up for grabs (RG) and it’s between Jacob Alsadek and Lene Maiava . . . pass rush is questionable, as UA must replace DL Sione Tuihalamaka and Tevin Hood. NG Dwight Melvin was probably best on his unit in spring . . . lots of LB depth despite loss of Marquis Flowers and Jake Fischer, and rising soph Scooby Wright moved from outside to MLB . . . secondary looks solid if thin, with CB Devin Holiday the leader to replace Shaquille Richardson . . . backup CB Derek Babiash left the team after spring drills.
Spring game: Offense won the day, 57-38, in front of 7,100 as RB Terris Jones-Grigsby ran for 62 yards on six carries, while little seemed settled about the quarterback position.
Quotable: Rodriguez – “Our biggest concern (at quarterback) was not necessarily finding a pecking order, but just getting two or three guys we felt we could win with. We felt we did. We’ll rep four or five guys the first two weeks of fall, and then pare it down further.”
2014 schedule: It’s made for a 4-0 start, with UNLV, UTSA, Nevada and Cal to open, but October gets treacherous with Oregon, USC, WSU and UCLA, all but the Trojans on the road.