Arizona’s QB competition no clearer after spring game

DaVonte' Neal outruns the defense for a 44-yard touchdown during Arizona's spring game Saturday.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona’s muddled quarterback situation didn’t get any clearer. Two unknowns appeared to be the team’s best running backs.

But what Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez noticed in Saturday’s spring game at Arizona Stadium was that the loaded wide receivers group looked as good as advertised … probably.

"Was it impressive wide receiver play or poor defensive back play?" Rodriguez joked after watching his third spring game as Arizona’s coach. "As a head coach, I go back and forth. I’m not overly thrilled with some of those missed tackles.

"It’s a concern."

To be fair, the first-team defense wasn’t on the field much, so the 7,100 people in attendance didn’t get to see a totally fair competition between the two sides.

But more important than the competitiveness was that "nobody got hurt," Rodriguez said.

Never one to overhype things, Rodriguez called it an "OK day" in terms of finding "OKGs" — our kind of guys, Rodriguez calls them.

What everyone in attendance was trying to find was a starting quarterback, with all eyes on the assortment of players in competition to replace B.J. Denker as the starter. To that end, Rodriguez said Saturday "was probably as indicative of what it’s been this spring. OK at times, and even at times."

The coach did say that there’s been some separation, although he added that no one should read into the spring game rotation of redshirt senior Jessie Scroggins, redshirt freshman Anu Solomon, Texas transfer Connor Brewer and junior-college transfer Jerrard Randall.

Most of them have helped (themselves) from the standpoint where they are confident in the system. No one has said, ‘I am the guy.’

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez on quarterback situation

"It’s changed," Rodriguez said. "The only thing consistent about that is we’ve been totally inconsistent on who goes out there."

Rodriguez likened it to a bullpen in baseball, with all of them warming up and the order varying by the day.

What separation has occurred has come recently. Rodriguez declined to identify the current pecking order but said he will meet with the quarterbacks next week to tell them where they stand.

"Most of them have helped (themselves)," Rodriguez said, "from the standpoint where they are confident in the system. No one has said, ‘I am the guy.’"

Rodriguez said he still didn’t see himself naming a starter "until a couple of minutes before the first game."

On Saturday, Solomon led the group with 74 passing yards and two touchdowns while going 4 for 8. Brewer was 8 for 12 for 71 yards and two touchdowns, and Scroggins went 3 for 8 for 57 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The most impressive performance overall came from the receiving corps. Senior Austin Hill saw time in his return to the field after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL, and Notre Dame transfer Davonte’ Neal showed his explosiveness with an impressive 44-yard touchdown on his lone reception.

"Our receiving corps … we’re competing," said Neal, a former Scottsdale Chaparral High standout. "We have great receivers where any one of us can go out and make plays. We feed off each other."

Texas transfer Cayleb Jones is ready for that. He, too, looked solid on Saturday, catching a touchdown pass from Brewer, his former teammate with the Longhorns.

"There was great progress," Jones said. "Obviously it’s harder for the offense to get going versus the defense. We started slow, but after spring break we started clicking and started doing well."

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The offense was officially designated the winner Saturday, albeit in we-don’t-keep-score game.

"There were some stalled drives we will eliminate," Jones said."But it was pretty good."

A scary moment came early when Hill was hit hard on a route over the middle. But he got up and said he was fine.

"It didn’t hurt at all — I just got the wind knocked out of me," Hill said. "It was all good."

Said Rodriguez, "That shouldn’t have happened. We told our guys that it was live and we don’t want any blow-up shot. But he popped up and was good."

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