Last football scrimmage shows improved offense
Kevin Klaus/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sophomore running back Clarence Farmer attempts to break a tackle during last night‚s scrimmage at the UA practice field. The scrimmage was the last before the Wildcats‚ first game of the season against San Diego State.
Wednesday August 22, 2001 |
How excited was UA head coach John Mackovic with his team's performance in last night's scrimmage?
For starters, the 57-year old coach voluntarily did 20 push-ups with his team at the end of last night's scrimmage at Arizona Stadium.
"That's really good to see him so enthusiastic about our team," UA freshman quarterback John Rattay said. "It shows a lot of character."
After enduring a rough weekend, the Arizona football team's offense showed signs of life during its final scrimmage of the preseason.
"Our offense improved a little bit," UA head coach John Mackovic said after the two-hour intra-squad scrimmage. "Our defense didn't play quite as well. So we go back and forth and back and forth."
Unlike last Saturday, junior quarterback Jason Johnson was receiving solid protection from his offensive line, which allowed the Puyallup, Wash. native more time in the pocket.
"The biggest thing was that we had better protection," Mackovic said. "We also worked on getting back off the line of scrimmage better so he (Johnson) can get back and read the routes and get the balls thrown. What we did last week was that we just didn't get away from the line of scrimmage."
Continuing his reputation as the Wildcats' most consistent player, sophomore halfback Clarence Farmer took advantage of the weak defensive line by scoring two touchdowns.
Farmer wasn't nearly as impressed with his play.
"Right now I feel that I'm playing decent," Farmer said. "I'm just trying to work hard and make (my game) even better."
Even though Farmer has had a successful preseason, the 2000 first-team freshman All-American said his game is only getting better.
"I'm running plays right now and I'm making yards, but I want to work that to perfection," Farmer said. "I'm hitting holes, but sometimes I might drift off and not hit the right holes. I want to perfect (my game) where I hit all the right holes at the right times. Right now, I'm running pretty good, but I always want to get better."
The Wildcat defensive suffered a blow last night as senior defensive lineman Austin Uku was carried off the field after spraining his knee.
Mackovic tried to find a silver lining in the injury. The Wildcats don't open the 2001 season until next Thursday, when they travel to San Diego to take on San Diego State.
"Hopefully it's no more than (a sprain) and he can get back by the first the game," Mackovic said. "I like going nine days before the first game just for a case like tonight. Two extra days is like an eternity when you are trying to get guys ready for a big game."
Despite sputtering in Saturday's intra-squad scrimmage - Mackovic called their performance "weak" - the Wildcat offense showed signs of life, especially under center.
Johnson completed 7-of-12 passes for 109 yards and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Malosi Leonard. The junior led the first-team UA offense on a 10-play, 96-yard scoring drive against the Wildcats' second-string defense.
Farmer carried the ball nine times, gained 50 yards and scored two touchdowns.
"Clarence is a big-time back," Mackovic said. "He likes to have the ball."
Farmer said that doubters will continue to question the Wildcats' offense, regardless of how the team plays in scrimmages.
"People are going to say what they want to say," Farmer said. "Offensively, we know what we have to do. We are in the learning stage right now. Let me take that back - we are in the perfecting stage."