Wildcats hold first scrimmage, here’s what we learned

TUCSON, AZ – Arizona Football held their first scrimmage of fall camp, and following the reactions on social media, this is what we learned!

Things are heating up in Tucson, and no we’re not talking about the sweltering heat in the Southwest. Instead, it’s actually Arizona Football we’re referring to, and as we get closer and closer to kick-off, that’s making us excited!

For those unaware, fall camp began just days ago, and as the Wildcats prepare for the start of the 2019 season, the Wildcats finally held their first scrimmage of fall camp, as some of the players (especially the newbies) got a real taste of college football action!

According to Kevin Sumlin and Arizona, the team ran just 90 plays, and here’s what we’ve learned following social media reactions!

But first, we must note that while it’s still early, things are definitely not finalized roster and personnel wise. Nonetheless, we got an early taste of the Wildcats.

From the start, the Wildcats were ready to compete and get things going, as this is what we saw from the first team offense;

QB- Khalil Tate
RB- J.J. Taylor
WR- Stanley Berryhill III
WR- Jaden Mitchell
WR- Tre Adams
TE- Jake Peters
LT- Donovan Laie
LG- Josh Donovan
C- Josh McCauley
RG- Cody Creason
RT- Edgar Burrola

Defensively, here’s what we saw from the Wildcats!

Edge- Jalen Harris
NT- Finton Connolly
DT- JB Brown
Edge- Kylan Wilborn
LB- Colin Schooler
LB- Tony Fields II
CB- Lorenzo Burns
CB- Jace Whittaker
Bandit- Christian Young
Spur- Tristan Cooper
FS- Scottie Young Jr.

Coming in, this was certainly an evaluation from Arizona and it’s staff, and now following the scrimmage here’s what we learned from Sumlin himself!

“We wanted to move to more different conditions and what these are about, is getting the other players and the coaches to trust you,” Sumlin said. “We were right at 90 plays. Everybody got a chance in there so we could evaluate. This was a real evaluation scrimmage. Probably the first big one.”

While it’s still early, Sumlin got a sense of what he has and can make better personnel decisions. “We have a lot of new guys that are going to play critical roles, so get them on the field and see what they can do.”

Coming in, I do know fans have been hoping for improved play and increased size, and it seems like Arizona has been hard at work in the weight room this summer. On Saturday it was apparent as that hard work was on display!

“Coach Johnson has done a great job in the summer, but the mental toughness piece and knowing what to do all the time and not letting outside factors bother you was what today was about.”

Another thing fans have been looking for is improved play, and whether the Wildcats will be able to shore up the offensive line and defensive lines quickly. And from the scrimmage, we did see some improved play!

“I thought our D-Line was better. We’ve got to be able to rush the passer, and it’s hard to judge with your own team,” he said. “I thought our O-Line was equally up to the challenge and there was some big plays on both sides.”

Offensively, Arizona should be all set and will once again have a strong unit! One thing that remained consistent on Saturday, was Taylor’s dominance.

The redshirt junior running back put the Wildcat defense on skates on the first play of the game, skampering up the middle for a nice gain, but got pulled early as Sumlin had seen enough from the Taylor and ultimately wanted to give him a rest.

Instead, the Wildcats used their bevvy of running backs including; Bam Smith, Nathan Tilford and Michael Wiley. Overall, Sumlin seemed to like the production he got from his younger backs.

“J.J. Taylor got loose early and we got him out quick, we know what he can do,” Sumlin said. “We got Bam and some of the younger backs in there today, Tilford and Wiley, to get them some reps because we know what JJ can do… We have to develop a core of running backs so we can get him off the field some because of his return game and everything else. We don’t want him carrying the ball 40 times a game.”

Overall, it seems like the defense may be a little ahead of the offense according to Sumlin, but that’s pretty normal at this point.

“Everybody’s got their druthers, right” Sumlin said. “Early the defense should be ahead because it’s see ball, go get ball. These other guys have to figure out where to go, who to block, blitzing, and all this other stuff… It’s a different tempo between a walkthrough and what just happened out there, and things for younger players were happening quick today and we’ll get them up to speed.”

Listen to coach as he addresses the media following the Wildcats’ first scrimmage!

At Zona Zealots, we’re excited for football and the Wildcats getting ready for the 2019 action! It seems like we may be off to a solid start so far! As always, Bear Down, Arizona!

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