Arizona Spring Game Recap

Christian Petersen

After the first weekend of Pac-12 spring games there's a lot to be discussed. How did Arizona look, and what were the takeaways from their spring game?

We asked Kevin Zimmerman of our fellow SBNation blog AZDeserSwarm to give us a bit of a rundown of what the goings on were down in the desert.

AC: Which unit performed the best and why?

KZ:Arizona's spring game was extremely vanilla -- Rich Rodriguez admitted he used only two coverages all game -- and the majority of the defensive starters were held out. Running back Ka'Deem Carey also sat, but in his place, the group of shifty running backs played well behind a very consistent and solid offensive line. The O-line also handily protected the Wildcats' quarterbacks for the most part.

Of the other few units that were similar to what we'd see come next semester, the receiving group had some familiar faces in Johnny Jackson, Tyler Slavin, fifth-year senior Terrence Miller and Dave Richards. The biggest news, however, came as Rodriguez confirmed that Arizona's best receiver, Austin Hill, tore his ACL on Wednesday. Hill caught 81 balls for more than 1,300 yards last season and the loss is as significant for a team without an obvious replacement for graduated quarterback Matt Scott.

AC: Who were the individual standouts?

KZ: Rover Tra'Mayne Bondurant showed his usual playmaking abilities, blowing up screen passes and pulling down an interception. Redshirt freshman receiver Clive Georges also was a favorite target of the three quarterbacks who played.

AC: Which position group has the most room for improvement?

KZ: The biggest issue for Arizona last year was the defensive line. It's hard to say what they'll look like, again, because so many players were out of action on Saturday. Still, they didn't get a whole lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, and the group of backup backs including Jared Baker, Terris Jones and Kylan Butler got a lot of running room, and consistently.

But I think the biggest issue is at quarterback. B.J. Denker, who last season backed up Scott, might have the smarts but not the speed nor the arm to do anything risky. Jesse Scroggins, a former USC commit, showed off his strong arm but that arm was even less accurate than Denker's. There's a good chance incoming freshman Anu Solomon has a realistic shot at the starting quarterback job, but it's also unclear where Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham and youngster Javelle Allen stand in the mix -- neither of those two players saw action on Saturday.

AC: Which player(s) from 2012 will be missed the most?

KZ: Now we can count Austin Hill in this category since hearing the news of his ACL tear. But there's no question Arizona will miss Scott a great deal. There's a reason he's moving quickly up the NFL draft boards, and if it's not for the sake of his dynamic skillset of a gunslinger with speedy legs, his leadership will be dearly missed.

AC: If you had to give a (way too early) evaluation of the team as compared to last season, would you say that it's going to be improved or maybe take a step backward?

KZ: Honestly, I think they're going to take a step backward. Even before I heard of the Hill news, Arizona losing Scott will definitely hamper the run game, even if the Wildcats have an All-American in Ka'Deem Carey returning for his junior season. At the same time, it's to-be-decided if a defense that was awful can improve. There are a great deal of returning players on that side of the ball, so there's a shot UA's defense improves. Still, it was pretty awful last season. The offense carried them last year, but without Scott, it's hard to say if there's one go-to strength for this team considering all of the opponents' focus will be squarely on Carey.

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