Arizona’s spring game last Saturday did not really tell us much about the team’s prospects for the 2021 season, the first under new coach Jedd Fisch.
If you were wondering whether or not either Gunner Cruz or Will Plummer can lead the offense or if Don Brown’s defense will surprise, you’re likely still wondering those things. If you are curious about what Fisch’s offense will look like, unless his playbook comes straight from NFL Blitz, you don’t have much of an answer there, either.
If you’re wondering if the Wildcats will be any good this season, unless the roster was dramatically underperforming due to a lackluster coaching staff, the answer is probably not.
But at this point, who cares?
Just think, if not for media people (and the occasional ASU fan in your Twitter timeline) who was thinking about the final loss of the 2020 season? For a team that has lost 12 consecutive games the conversation was not about how low the program has fallen, but instead it was about how Tedy Bruschi and Rob Gronkowski returned to Tucson to coach the Blue Team and Red Team, respectively.
Before that, though, Gronk caught a football tossed from a helicopter that was hovering 620 feet above Arizona Stadium. It took him three tries, but a world record was set and the video was all over the internet.
Other videos of Gronkowski floated around, with him having a great time being back in his old stomping grounds.
There was also Fisch wearing a Dick Tomey-era jacket, something he said was done to honor the late coach. There was also a water balloon fight, of sorts, with the Zona Zoo.
It all made for a great time, with the game itself being a footnote.
To wit, Fisch’s takeaways on what he saw:
“I don’t know. I feel like I was a little too busy spraying the student section with a hose and water balloons halfway through the game. So I didn’t really see much of every schematic aspect of the game. We had a bunch of trick plays and we did a lot of stuff we’re not going to be doing in the fall, so I’m not going to spend too much time reviewing this film. I just wanted the guys to go out play hard compete, give everything they’ve got, and have fun while doing it.”
When was the last time it looked like the team in red and blue was having fun on that field? When was the last time you had fun watching anything Arizona Football?
Now it’s true, none of what happened Saturday portends to a successful season. And whether you watched the game or not, expecting much of a first-year staff with a less-than-loaded roster would be unwise.
While Arizona is going to add some reinforcements over the coming months in the form of some transfers as well as freshmen, it is going to take some time until the roster has the look of one that could really, truly compete for a division and conference title.
Most people seem to understand that, with perhaps the greatest example being Fisch himself.
Yes, he and his staff are working as hard as they can to mold this roster into something better than expected. Until the games start one can envision, if they want, a world where the Cats are the surprise of the Pac-12. Stranger things have happened.
But the Spring Game he put together was not meant to show off the 2021 Wildcats. No, it was instead meant to wipe away the frustration of the last few seasons, replacing it with joy and the promise of a better tomorrow.
He understands that right now, besides coaching up the players they have, the best thing he can do is bring positive attention to the program. Having some of the sports world’s biggest personalities tweeting and talking about Arizona—in a positive light—is everything.
Fisch has helped Arizona look toward the future, and while it will not be easy to escape the past he has taken the challenge head-on and done all he could to help everyone turn the page.
It probably will not happen this season, and Arizona may not even be too good the next. The program hit rock bottom, and there’s a long climb ahead before reaching the top.
Fisch seems to have the right idea in getting the Cats there, though. And with the way he’s doing things, with his embrace of the program’s history, willingness to have fun and creativity, it’s hard not root for him to be the guy who can get the job done in Tucson.