The Arizona Wildcats will hold their annual meet-the-team function today. Even before the first autograph is signed and first hand is shaken, however, it's safe to say that we know the following about first-year coach Rich Rodriguez's team.
The UA should move the ball and score points when it opens the season Sept. 1 against Toledo. Defensively, however, things could be dicey.
Quarterback Matt Scott and walk-on wide receiver Sean Willet paced a 633-yard, seven-touchdown performance in Saturday's second scrimmage at Arizona Stadium. The 95-play tuneup was closed to the public and media, though select Wildcat Club members were allowed to watch from loge seating.
Players were made available for interviews following the scrimmage, which capped a two-week training camp, and Rodriguez issued a statement through the UA's communication services department. The athletic department posted video highlights and provided limited stats three hours later.
Per their report:
• Scott led all passers, completing 11 of 14 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Backup B.J. Denker completed just 11 of his 30 attempts, but threw for 172 yards. As a group, Arizona's quarterbacks completed 28 of 59 passes for 454 yards and three touchdowns. They were intercepted once.
• Saturday was another good day for running back J.T. Washington. The freshman from Florida gained 22 yards on four carries and scored one the Wildcats' four rushing touchdowns. The others belonged to Kylan Butler (8 carries, team-high 38 yards), Ka'Deem Carey (2 carries, 13 yards) and Richard Morrison (1 carry, 25 yards). Arizona's backs averaged nearly 5 yards per carry.
The team focused on pace and tempo, center Kyle Quinn said. The results were "about the same" as last week's scrimmage at Fort Huachuca, which - for the offense - was good news.
• Willet led the team in catches (five) and receiving yards (113), and scored a touchdown. Fifteen different players caught passes.
Despite the offense's dominance, the defense won 50-49 using a complicated scoring system that rewards big plays on both sides of the ball. The defense delivered in that department Saturday: Jourdon Grandon was responsible for one of the defense's two forced fumbles, and walk-on safety Vince Miles intercepted freshman Josh Kern. Six Wildcats had sacks: Chris Merrill, Yamen Sanders, Dwight Melvin, Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Taimi Tutogi and Jared Tevis. Tutogi was making his scrimmage debut at defensive end; he also projects as the starting H-back in Rodriguez's new spread-option offense.
The unit still needs to improve in a handful of areas, senior safety Mark Watley said.
"There's going to be an emphasis on running to the ball, hustling and going all-out on every play," he said. "We need to find the way to get the ball back to our offense."
• Saturday's scrimmage capped a jam-packed 24 hours for the team. It practiced Friday afternoon before busing to a Foothills-area resort for a team talent show. Punter Kyle Dugandzic had his teammates rolling with his impression of Rodriguez. The coach's joking response: "So where are you transferring to?"
The night's best performance, players say, belonged to offensive line coach Robert Anae. The burly assistant played Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" on his guitar.
• Following Saturday's scrimmage, Rodriguez and 10 players - Tutogi, Quinn, Watley, guard Trace Biskin, kicker John Bonano, defensive end Lamar De Rego, defensive tackle Jowyn Ward, linebacker Jake Fischer, wide receiver Terrence Miller and tight end Drew Robinson - delivered season tickets to a handful of UA football fans.
• The meet-the-team function will begin at noon inside McKale Center. An hour-long autograph session is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m.
• What: Toledo at Arizona
• Where: Arizona Stadium
• When: 7:30 p.m., Sept. 1
• TV; radio: ESPNU; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)
How they threw it
How the Cats' quarterbacks fared Saturday (based on unofficial stats from the University of Arizona):
11-14, 198 yards, 2 TDs
The Arizona starter, left, was interception free and completed 78.6 percent of his passes in the scrimmage.
11-30, 172 yards
Arizona's second-string QB only completed 36.7 percent of his passes, but he did not turn the ball over.
28-59, 454 yards, 3 TDs
Four other QBs (Javelle Allen, Nick Isham, Josh Kern and Jack Nykaza) combined with Denker and Scott for these totals. Allen tossed a TD, and Kern was intercepted.
How they Caught it
How the Wildcats wide receivers fared Saturday (based on unofficial stats from the University of Arizona):
5 rec., 113 yards, TD
The walk-on junior from Mission Viejo, Calif., hauled in a 54-yard score from Matt Scott.
3 rec., 54 yards, TD
Morrison, left, caught Scott's other TD pass, a 10-yard strike in the back of the end zone.
454 yards, 3 TDs
Dan Buckner caught three passes for 37 yards, and Austin Hill added 46 yards on two catches. Clive Georges caught the third TD pass, a 36-yard strike from Javelle Allen.