It was a game Dick Tomey would love. The defense beat the offense 14-9 in a contest that saw all the points come off of turnovers or special teams.
Almost 400 fans were treated to picture perfect weather and a scrimmage that went just over 90 plays.
The offense gave up too many sacks and committed too many penalties for the coaches’ liking. The defense got to the quarterback six times, two of the sacks courtesy of Andre Torrey.
“We’ve only been in pads for three days so we have to brush up on our mechanics,” Mike Stoops said.
“We’re not good enough to do this,” Stoops added about the offense’s mishaps. “We can’t play behind the chains.”
The biggest cheers of the night came for place kickers Nick Folk and Jason Bondzio. Folk was 3-4 in warm-ups and split the uprights on a 47 and 50-yard attempts. Bondzio made 1-of-2 before the scrimmage and nailed a 37 yarder.
“We’re trying to bring back those good special teams and those good kickers we used to have,” confessed Folk.
Early on it was a stalemate. The offense didn’t sustain a long drive but exploited the defense just enough to keep the defensive coaches from getting too confident.
“We need to play with more intensity and more focus,” said Mike Bell on the offense as a whole.
It was on Ryan O’Hara’s first possession that the defense struck first. O’Hara looked for Juan Valentine over the middle but the senior receiver was hit and could not hang on. Valentine went down and the ball landed on top of him. Luis Nunez had the presence of mind to scoop up the ball and he raced 35 yards for the score, breaking a handful of tackles and somehow managing to stay inbounds during the run back.
All told O’Hara was 5-10 for 31 yards.
Four drives later the offense started to move. Kris Heavner took the reign and went on a 14 play drive. He had to convert a pair of third downs and a fourth and one to keep the drive alive. On the drive the sophomore passer found Clarence McRae on an 18-yard gain and three plays later he found Anthony Johnson on an 18-yard completion. Two sacks stalled the progress and Folk finished things off with the 47 yarder, which was a line drive kick into a soft breeze.
O’Hara was back in on the next drive. After a three and out, he led the offense on another time consuming drive. This time the offense held the ball for 11 plays, but a holding call and a fumbled snap halted progress at the 20. This time it was Bondzio who connected on the score.
The offense took the lead on the next drive, which took a lengthy 12 plays. Heavner completed three straight pass attempts and Chris Henry picked up 20 yards on four carries, but another sack and a stern pass rush that forced Heavner to scramble of a one-yard gain halted the drive and the unit settled for their third and final field goal.
Heavner was driving the team again when the defense struck for the second time. After completing a 37-yard pass to McRae, Heavner looked to the flats but linebacker Sean Jones stepped in front of the intended receiver and raced 87 yards for a score.
For the night Heavner was 8-17 for 123 yards. Against the third team defense Richard Kovalcheck was 8-9 for 42 yards.
The bright spot for the offense was the running game. Mike Bell played the first six series and picked up 49 yards on eight carries. After that Chris Henry and Gilbert Harris picked up the bulk of the work. Both backs carried the ball 17 times. Henry had 30 yards, Harris 53.
*Nic Costa was used as a wide receiver on a handful of plays. He ran one reverse where he picked up a yard, but the play was called back due to holding.
*A number of recruits were on hand. Xavier Smith, Daniel Borg, Jordan Lowe, Terry Longbons and about seven Salpointe players were on hand to watch the action.
*Also in attendance were Larry Smith and Fox Sports Arizona correspondent Todd Walsh.
*Walk-on offensive lineman Luka Arnerich was injured on the last play of the scrimmage. He was taken off on a cart and his status is not known.
*The scrimmage actually began about 15 minutes early. The staff was unsure about potential bad weather and decided to get an early start.