EUGENE OR - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach Mike Stoops of the Arizona Wildcats yells out to his team in the first quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 26 2010 in Eugene Oregon.The Ducks won the game 48-29. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Arizona Wildcats Training Camp: Jonathan McKnight To Miss Season With Torn ACL

Complete coverage of any and all news breaking out of Wildcats training camp. Injuries, roster moves, schedule updates and more!

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Arizona Wildcats Football: Adam Hall, Jake Fischer Could Return In October

The summer months have not been kind to the Arizona Wildcats and their defensive unit, but head coach Mike Stoops did provide the media with some encouraging news after Friday's practice.

The Tucson Citizen's Anthony Gimino has the story:

Arizona Wildcats starting safety Adam Hall and starting linebacker Jake Fischer could be back by the beginning of October as they push ahead in their ACL rehabs, coach Mike Stoops said after Thursday's practice.

"I would say that would be the best-case scenario," Stoops said of the early October return. "After the break, the last six games, would be the worst-case scenario."

Arizona has an open date after an Oct. 8 game at Oregon State. So, in Stoops' worst-case scenario, Hall and Fischer would be ready for a Thursday night home game against UCLA on Oct. 20.

"We'll know more as the next couple of weeks progress," Stoops said.

Some had thought UA might consider a redshirt for both Hall and Fischer if they did not make a return until mid-October or later, but their recent progressions may allow them to play at least half of the games in 2011. For a defense that just lost starting cornerback Jonathan McKnight to an ACL injury of his own, the team could certainly use their talent and skill on the field.

"We're certainly not going to rush either player back," Stoops said.

Good thinking, coach.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Arizona for complete coverage of the Wildcats this season. For more, be sure to check out Arizona Desert Swarm.


Arizona Wildcats Football: Jonathan McKnight Out For Season With Knee Injury

The Arizona Wildcats secondary just cannot catch a break this summer.

Actually, maybe they are catching too many "breaks". The injuries just keep on piling up with the projected starters.

The latest to be injured? Cornerback Jonathan McKnight, who has impressed many in camp. Reporter Anthony Gimino of The Tucson Citizen has the update on Twitter:

Starting CB Jonathan Mcknight tore ACL on Wed., out for year. Shaq Richardson is new starter. #arizonawildcats

For a secondary that has already seen projected starting safety Adam Hall go down to injury, this is just another kick while the team is down. McKnight was undoubtably the most impressive corner in camp and a breakout season could have happened this year.

Shaquille Richardson will take over the starting position for the time being. The sophomore once attended UCLA, but was kicked off the team after being arrested for the theft of a classmates bag. He then transferred to Arizona and will need to step up immediately. He played well in limited action last season.

Maybe it just wasn't meant to be in 2011, folks. Short of Nick Foles turning into Peyton Manning 2.0, it appears the upcoming season is going to be a rough one. 


Arizona Wildcats Football: Alex Zendejas Loses Starting Job To Jaime Salazar

Alex Zendejas has been one of the more notorious Wildcats the last few seasons, and it was for all of the wrong reasons. After years of missed kicks in crucial situations, the senior-to-be has lost his starting job to Jaime Salazar, a junior college transfer. 

No official starter has been announced for the regular season, but as Anthony Gimino tells us, it is Salazar who has pulled ahead on the depth chart in recent weeks.

"We're still competing, but Jaime moved kind of ahead of Alex right now," coach Mike Stoops said after Tuesday's practice. "We'll continue to compete as we go through."

Wildcats fans are well aware of Zendejas' struggles. Whether it was going 1-for-3 in the second half of a crucial home game against Oregon in 2009, his meltdown against USC and Arizona State last season, or his two missed kicks in the Alamo Bowl in last December, his performance on the field has been pretty terrible.

So, the coaches brought in Salazar from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas. He hasn't looked like the second coming of Steve McLaughlin - Salazar has been inconsistent in fall scrimmages, too - but it looks as if he'll get a chance to swing his right leg in the season opener against NAU on Sept. 3.

Honestly, what does it hurt to try someone new at the kicking position? Worst case scenario is Salazar struggles in the first game or two and is then replaced by Zendejas. The upside to trying a new kicker is huge.

"I think you have to have a reliable kicker," Stoops said.

That's deep, coach. Bold and deep.

All eyes will be on Jaime Salazar and the Wildcats when they take on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on September 3rd. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

For more UA coverage, check out AZ Desert Swarm.


Arizona Wildcats Kicking Game Sporadic In Camp

Coach Stoops is worried about his kicking game.

Well, to be fair, Stoops, his staff, and the fans have been worried about the kicking game since like 2006, but there's always hope for an improved unit.

Anthony Gimino of The Tucson Citizen has the quick story:

JC transfer PK Jaimie Salazar made a 37-yard FG in Saturday's scrimmage (although the kick was low). He later missed from 45. Incumbent PK Alex Zendejas missed badly from 50 and made a 37-yarder. "The kicking game was sporadic," coach Mike Stoops said, "and that's disappointing."

Arizona fans do not need to be reminded about the uncertainty surrounding the kickers on this team. The Wildcats would have had two more victories in 2010 -- the USC and ASU games come to mind -- if the team had a capable, reliable kicker, but Alex Zendejas went all Alex Zendejas in both games and missed crucial kicks that were not difficult.

There was hope Salazar, who recently transferred into the program, would be able to take over the kicking duties, though he has struggled just as much as Zendejas has in camp. With less than two weeks remaining left in camp, the time is now for someone to step up.

This is frustrating.

For more Wildcats coverage, be sure to check out AZ Desert Swarm.


Arizona Wildcats Football: Nick Foles Changes Diet

Nick Foles of the Arizona Wildcats is considered one of the top prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft. But there have been big questions about his athletic ability. Foles has proven to be good in the Airraid offense as a strong pocket passer with good accuracy and fairly good arm strength, but his athletic ability has always been questioned. Foles isn't a particularly good runner and doesn't do very much on the run. His -113 rushing yards in 2010 indicates that he probably has trouble deciding which way to go on the field.

Foles is looking to change that this season. He's made some changes to his diet and is looking to be a stronger all-around QB in 2011. Anthony Gimino from the Tucson Citizen has more.

One of the changes in Foles this season is that while he is still around 245 pounds, he is noticeably leaner, the result of dietary changes that came after he was tested for food allergies. He read about the subject and decided to get tested.

The discovery: He had to say adios to three staples of his diet: whey protein (which he would take after workouts), milk and eggs. Oh, is that all?

His body’s reaction to those foods causes slight swelling and general sluggishness


"I had drank whey protein shakes my whole life, and when I got off them and started taking different supplements and proteins, I noticed a huge difference in the weight room and my body fat going down. My muscles were recovering better and my strength was going up. Just everything."

If Foles can prove to make plays with his feet this season, Arizona's offense should become more effective, since defenses will not have to worry about just the receivers he's throwing to but also whether Foles can pick up first downs on his own when the field is stretched. 

For more on Arizona football, go to Arizona Desert Swarm.


Arizona Wildcats Football Camp: Mike Stoops Encouraged With Offensive Line

The Wildcats are just about two weeks away from their first game of the year and the final adjustments are being made to prepare for the long, grueling season. One unit that has stuck out to head coach Mike Stoops? The offensive line. The Tucson Citizen's Anthony Gimino has the story:

Stoops says he has seen improvement in the one area that is the team's biggest question - the all-new starting offensive line.

"The first group especially," Stoops said. "And some of our young guys are getting better, too. I figured that would happen with a lot of young players. You're going to see a lot of growth through a period of time, and certainly our guys have improved a great deal."

Assuming everyone can stay healthy in the final days of camp, the starting offensive line would go (from left to right) redshirt freshman Mickey Baucus, sophomore Chris Putton, junior Kyle Quinn, junior Trace Biskin and redshirt freshman Fabbians Ebbele, according to Stoops.

Hardly the line solidified by NFL prospects as it has been in previous seasons, though each player has the potential to be very good. 

"Fabbians has gotten a lot better," Stoops said. "You can tell he's getting more comfortable. And Mickey, too. Kyle is the leader, and he has played awfully well all through camp. I like the way they are coming along."

How do the defensive linemen feel about their counterparts in practice? Senior defensive end C.J. Parish has this to say:

On Baucus: "Mickey, he's nasty. He just looks nasty off the ball. Mickey is going to kick back fast and throw his hands at you, and as soon as you swipe them down, he's going to replace his hands right fast. I find him to be a nasty, vicious tackle. He's going to be really good for us."

This is great news for the Wildcats. The offensive line has been (arguably) the biggest question mark heading into the season and the good reviews from the coaches and players can only mean better days are ahead.

For more Wildcats coverage, be sure to check out AZ Desert Swarm.


Arizona Wildcats Fall Camp: UA Has Options, Depth At Running Back

They may not all be big, household names, but the Wildcats backfield figures to be solid this upcoming season. 

Keola Antolin, when healthy, adds a certain dynamic to the offense when on the field. He may not be the biggest or fastest guy, but he fights for those extra yards every time he touches the ball. Durability has been an issue over his career, but hopefully he is able to stay away from the training room his senior season.

Daniel Jenkins is the wildcard in all of the running back discussions. He only has eight career rush attempts and nothing about his game is particularly sexy, but he has earned rave reviews from both his coaches and media in attendance during the summer and fall camps. Jenkins is definitely a player to keep your eye on.

And then there's the No. 1 recruit from the 2011 recruiting class, Ka'Deem Carey. The local prospect out of Canyon Del Oro High School in Tucson was the highest ranked recruit for UA since Rob Gronkowski's arrival four years ago, and he has the potential to be one of the better running backs in recent history if his success in high school was any indication. Everyone must remember Carey is just a freshman and to not place unfair expectations on him, though. His time will come.


Bryson Beirne Injury Complicates Wildcats Quarterback Plans

Coming into training camp, the quarterback position was one of the very few that head coach Mike Stoops felt comfortable with in terms of both skill and depth. That may no longer be the case.

Backup quarterback Bryson Beirne -- who became the backup once the team decided to redshirt senior Matt Scott -- sprained his ACL in a scrimmage on Saturday and will miss at least three weeks, if not longer. The staff is hoping to avoid surgery, though we will just have to wait and see on how the injury responds to treatment and rehab. 

What does this mean for Arizona? Assuming the plan is to keep Scott redshirted to keep his eligibility to play next season, freshman Daxx Garman will be assuming the duties as second-string quarterback. Who is Daxx Garman? After being denied the chance to play at powerhouse Southlake Carroll High School in Texas, he enrolled early at Arizona to build strength and earn extra reps with the team. Coming in at a wiry 6'2, 175 pounds, he is by no means a physical specimen, but he was looked promising at times during camp.

Here is the problem in all of this: let's say the Wildcats trail the Oregon Ducks by three points and there's five minutes left. Nick Foles gets injured. Does coach Stoops call on the freshman to finish out the biggest game of the season, or does he burn Scott's eligibility for next season and play him with hopes to win the big game? Now if Foles would be out indefinitely then the decision becomes easier, but what if the medical staff does not know the extent of the injury?

Things could become tricky. Let's all just hope Foles is able to stay healthy and the Wildcats don't have to face this problem. 

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