Questions abound for UA after scrimmage

By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 21, 1996

Nicholas Valenzuela
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona quarterback Brady Batten passes during Monday night's scrimmage at Arizona Stadium. As of Monday, the junior was first on the depth chart. The Wildcats' season starts Aug. 31 against Texas-El Paso at home.


Monday night's annual intrasquard scrimmage was designed to give coaches and fans a clearer view of this season's Arizona football team, but for most it created more questions than answers.

The scrimmage gave the coaching staff a chance to look at everyone from potential starters to scout players as Arizona begins this season without offensive leader Dan White and defensive leader Tedy Bruschi.

Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said he is still uncertain about who his starters will be, but the scrimmage will give him a chance to make the necessary evaluations.

"On offense and defense I'm sure we don't have 22 (starters), but we'll find them," Tomey said. "At this time of year everybody's legs are gone, particularly the big guys. We will learn a lot from that and it will give us a chance to evaluate people, and that's what we're looking for."

The quarterback situation, for instance, became a little more murky as junior Brady Batten and redshirt freshman Keith Smith battled for playing time in the post White era.

Batten was 2-for-6 passing for eight yards while primarily leading the first-team offense against the second-team defense. Smith was 4-for-5 passing with 57 yards while guiding the second-team offense against the first team defense.

Batten is slated as the starter against the University of Texas-El Paso at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 31, but Smith is expected to get extensive time this season.

"Whenever they call on me, I've got to be ready," Smith said. "It felt good to get the pads on again. I just wish we could've gotten hit tonight."

Both quarterbacks were running new offensive coordinator Homer Smith's spread offense which debuted with mixed results. In early passing drills Batten and Smith looked sharp, throwing to a variety of wide receivers and running backs.

In the actual scrimmage, however, they were often flushed from the pocket by the defensive line. The quarterbacks are both known for their mobility and that should be a key to the offense this season.

"I think offensively we were very rough," Batten said. "We have some problem areas we need to address. It's a matter of overall execution and timing."

"We were a little shaky tonight at first, but we were getting things clicking later," Keith Smith said. "We will be fine when we play an actual game."

Notably absent from the drills and the scrimmage were wide receivers Richard Dice, Ron Holmes and Rodney Williams who were nursing minor injuries and illness.

Tight end Mike Metzler led the team with three receptions for 38 yards and scout team wide receiver Brad Brennan had three receptions for 22 yards.

The running back spots will be as tightly contested as the quarterback position. Freshman running back Dennis Northcutt from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles was impressive. He got the longest look by the coaching staff as he rushed nine times for 45 yar ds. Northcutt showed impressive speed in getting to the outside of the field and surprising toughness for his 5-foot-11, 160 pound frame.

The offensive line, which is returning all five starters, looked solid against the second team defense. One weakness, however, seemed to occur when the quarterbacks rolled out. The protection broke down as they failed to seal the outside rush.

Defensively the Wildcats rotated many players in hopes of solidifying the young line.