For Arizona football, the difference between year one, year two and year three is undeniable. You see marked improvement in so many – if not all – levels. And before I say Jedd Fisch is new Pied Piper of Arizona football – it’s way too soon for that – you know he’s leading the program in the right direction.
The buzz for the program is justified. Heck, you have some people trying to convince anyone who will listen this 2023 football version has eight wins in it. Well, that will be determined in the coming weeks, starting Sept. 2 vs. Northern Arizona.
But, at the team’s first scrimmage this season it was perhaps the best in, um, maybe five, six years. Better talent. Better enthusiasm. Better efficiency.
It brings for better culture, of course.
“It’s night and day,” said Treydan Stukes, a junior cornerback when asked to compare to when he first arrived. “Coach Fisch has continued to preach the same messages since he’s got here. Guys are on board more and more every single year, so I think now we got a great chance to take a nice step forward.”
That’s their hope.
On Saturday, Fisch waxed poetic on how he’s tried to construct the team, one year improving on the next and then the next. But besides that, it’s been a slow but steady climb.
“The talent has continued to build, what else has been the (difference) is the development of the players that either were here or that got here,” Fisch said. “The way they look, the way they are working the weight room, the way they are taking care of their bodies and the training room.”
He talked of their commitment to get better, stronger.
“When you have that mentality, that’s when you start really seeing a difference,” he said. “So, I think each year we all got better talent every year we’re here. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Arizona worked about 135 plays on Saturday morning to about 12:30 p.m. It’s been more than a week of practice with three weeks left. All looks to be on schedule.
“In terms of what we’ve put in, we’re where we want to be,” Fisch said. “In terms of our installations in terms of our execution, we could always be better. I think that our guys have a much better feel (for) the offense and the defense this year than they did a year ago. I would say it is showing up. What we’ve asked them … our quarterback is beginning to show up, his control at the line of scrimmage his ability to his decision making – scramble when needed, but to continue to work on playing in the pocket and (to) get better.
On the defensive end, Fisch said it’s still “working out some of the changes, but you can see them playing faster. That’s really what I’m looking for at camp.”
There will be seven more days of camp, including next weekend’s second scrimmage. Things will begin to tighten up this week. Saturday, it was about giving everyone a chance to show what they can do in live action.
“We wanted to see as many reps as you could,” Fisch said. “Just wanted to get a lot of people on tape. It was a matter of how can we see as much football as we can see, to help our guys be wherever they want to be, and see where we feel like they fit in best? (To see) a lot of young, some veteran transfer guys that we haven’t seen tackled very much. A lot of things we can correct.”
UA quarterback Jayden de Laura looked sharp, hitting a number of targets all scrimmage. It’s been said he’s had a good camp, so far. Targets Keyan Burnett caught a touchdown pass from de Laura.
Rayshon “Speedy” Luke looked impressive on a touchdown catch and a 60-yard-plus turn.
“I think that offensively, we had a lot of good ballplayers today, especially (the first team),” Fisch said. “Then I feel like overall second half of the scrimmage, the defense came back.”