SIERRA VISTA - The Arizona Wildcats' offense had every right to be downright offensive in Saturday night's scrimmage.
Five projected starters - quarterback Nick Foles, guards Vaughn Dotsy and Conan Amituanai, tackle Phillip Garcia and fullback Taimi Tutogi - were out with injuries.
The team would be running a vanilla version of its intricate offense, with two new co-coordinators leading the way.
It was a recipe for a disappointing performance.
The UA posted 455 yards of offense and scored four touchdowns in front of about 1,000 fans at Buena High School. The Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first two drives, marching 78 and 75 yards, and never looked back. The team averaged 6.4 yards per play against a defense that was, to be kind, frazzled. Fifteen different players caught passes.
"As long as I've been here, I don't think we've ever dominated this way against the defense," quarterback Matt Scott said. "It says a lot about the guys coming in: the offensive coordinators, the quarterback coaches and everybody else who played in the game."
Most importantly, it speaks volumes about Scott.
Handed the starting job when Foles opted to nurse a pulled groin, Scott completed 16 of 21 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Seven plays into the scrimmage, he hit David Douglas for a 39-yard touchdown. Four drives later, he found Greg Nwoko for an 11-yard score.
Still, Scott's most impressive statistic may have been his rushing stats.
The sneak-happy quarterback rushed just once for 5 yards - proof that he finally understands his role in the Wildcats' passing attack.
Though Foles is still unquestionably the team's starter, Scott is making the decision tougher than most people expected.
"I don't know a whole lot about quarterback technique and everything, but I think his mechanics have gotten a lot better," center Colin Baxter said.
"He's a lot more accurate. And I think he's calmed down back there. He's making his reads and making some real good throws."
Scott even acted like a starter. He dressed down receiver Travis Cobb for running the wrong route, and barked at his offensive linemen when he sensed their effort was lacking.
Scott's exuberance got the best of him at times - he was dressed down for celebrating a big play with a spike - but it was forgiven.
New athletic director Greg Byrne heaped praise on the quarterback after the game, calling him by his childhood nickname: Chewy.
Coach Mike Stoops said he was impressed with the quarterback's fire.
"Matt's competing hard right now, and that's why we like what he's doing," he said.
The same couldn't be said for the Wildcats' patchwork defense, which continues to struggle when it comes to tackling. The UA's half-dozen running backs - of them, only Nwoko can be considered a bruiser - were able to evade arm tackles and mistimed hits all night.
Senior defensive end Brooks Reed blamed the team's inexperience - the Wildcats must replace seven starters - and general fatigue. Today will mark just the UA's second off-day of camp. Arizona opens its season Sept. 3 at Toledo.
"We're in the middle of camp. The guys are beat up, sore, tired," Reed said.
"But that's no reason to come out here and display bad tackling, which we did. … That's something that's got to be fixed."
Clippable UA football schedule / C12
On StarNet: View more photos from Saturday's scrimmage at azstarnet.com/gallery
On StarNet: Follow the Wildcats during camp on reporter Ryan Finley's blog at: go.azstarnet.com/finley
TRAINING CAMP INSIDER
Day 10, at Sierra Vista Buena High School
• Highlights: The Arizona Wildcats racked up 455 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns on the way to dismantling the defense in a 71-play scrimmage at Buena High School. Matt Scott started at quarterback and shined, completing 16 of 21 passes for 196 yards. He hit David Douglas and Greg Nwoko for touchdowns. Bryson Beirne nearly topped Scott, completing 13 of 17 throws for 171 yards. He hit Terrence Miller and Richard Morrison for scores. The Wildcats rushed 24 times for 88 yards as a team, with Daniel Jenkins (6 carries, 29 yards) and Kylan Butler (4 carries, 19 yards) leading the way. Douglas paced the receivers, catching six passes for 78 yards and a score. Morrison (2 catches, 52 yards) and David Roberts (4 catches, 48 yards) made a case for more playing time. The Wildcats' defense failed to force a single turnover. Defensive ends Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore and D'Aundre Reed provided the few highlights on an otherwise ugly night. New UA athletic director Greg Byrne capped his statewide RV tour with a stop at Buena. He addressed the 1,000 or so fans while the Wildcats stretched.
• Weather: 90 degrees. Thick raindrops fell for about 10 minutes at the start of the scrimmage, but then the skies cleared up.
• Injury report: Starting quarterback Nick Foles was held out of the scrimmage with a pulled groin. Also out with injuries were safety Marquis Flowers (concussion), defensive tackle Kirifi Taula (sprained ankle), offensive tackle Phillip Garcia (sore knee), wide receiver Juron Criner (concussion), fullback Taimi Tutogi (sprained ankle) and offensive guards Vaughn Dotsy (back surgery) and Conan Amituanai (sprained knee). Running back Keola Antolin missed the scrimmage with an undisclosed injury.
• Quotable: "We had too many busted assignments. We need to get a lot better defensively. We have a ways to go, and we have less than three weeks to do it." - coach Mike Stoops