In addition to USC, 3 other Pac-12 teams took the field Saturday for their spring games, including one breaking in a new head coach and two looking to break sustained postseason droughts.

Here’s are some thoughts on Arizona, Arizona State and Cal’s spring games on Saturday …

Arizona: Jedd Fisch has some Wild(cat) and crazy fun

My biggest takeaway from Arizona’s spring game is that Jedd Fisch gets it. He may be the most community-connected coach in the Pac-12, something that Tucson sorely, sorely lacked in its past 2 head coaches. As a sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star, I got a first-hand look at the ease with which Rich Rodriguez and Kevin Sumlin dismissed the general Tucson community, so when you see Fisch gallivanting with the Zona Zoo and generally treating the spring game as a glorified tailgate party, it’s notable and refreshing.

And that’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s not that hard, as Fisch told reporters.

“Games are hard, practices are really hard; the spring game doesn’t need to be really hard,” Fisch said. “The spring game needs to be good football, clean football, good plays. We’re not looking to trick anybody, we’re not looking to win the spring game. Last time I checked we do not play Arizona.”

While the Wildcats brought the right amount of levity into the scrimmage, there were some standouts. Jayden de Laura continued his impressive spring, connecting on all of 6 of his passes while finding Tanner McLachlan for a 7-yard touchdown. If de Laura joins the upper third of the league’s quarterbacks, Arizona is going bowling. They also boast one of my favorite Pac-12 backups in Noah Fifita, who got a ton of run, completing 16-of-23 passes for 162 yards.

“Jayden gets asked to do a lot. He gets asked to do a lot of things outside the framework of practice and meetings,” Fisch said. “And when you require so much of a leader and of a captain and of your starting quarterback, you want to see their smile, when it comes to something like this.”

Defensively, Fisch noted that the unit was much-improved in terms activity and follow-through, something the Wildcats sorely lacked last year.

De Laura credits that to the unit building more trust and not trying to do too much. One of Arizona’s biggest issues in recent years has been over-pursuit and going for big plays instead of right plays.

“One big thing I’ve seen is all 11 on the defense really bought into the scheme. Everybody worries about doing their job, their focus on their 1-of-11 jobs, so if someone takes care of their job, they should be able to trust the other person to get their job done.”

One key member of the defense on display for the 20,000-plus in attendance was former Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe, who is slated to start for the Wildcats.

He continued his impressive spring and could factor as the biggest defensive transfer in the conference, if he can digest the scheme and tap into his tremendous potential.

“Coach (Johnny) Nansen is an amazing coach, gets with you every day, tries to get you as much film work and linebacker time with you. You pick it up quick with Coach Nansen.”

Fisch noted that this was the midway point of the team’s preparation for the 2023 campaign, saying, “as I told the team today 141 days since we won the Territorial Cup, 140 days until we play NAU, so today was exactly halftime of offseason training.”

And what is halftime for?

Rest. Rejuvenation. Orange slices.

“I’m excited about the fan attendance today, that was rally cool,” Fisch said. “Good to have guys like Rob (Gronkowski) and Chris (McCallister) and Antoine (Cason) back; 240 alumni checked in last night. All in all, great day to be a Wildcat. And looking forward to making Tucson the football town it should be. I think we’re getting closer to that. I think that we can start packing the house every week and get this place known for football.”

Arizona State: Sun Devils swoon with low fan turnout

Entering his 3rd season at the helm, Fisch has had some time to put his stamp on the Wildcats, and their impressive improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 — from 1 win to 5 wins — has Tucson starting to simmer.

But things are far from cooking in Tempe, as 1st-year Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham found out Saturday.

Dillingham, the former Oregon offensive coordinator and Arizona State assistant, has pledged to #ActivateTheValley but the Sun Devils appear to be missing a battery or two.

It’s understandable if the crowd may have lacked some size and energy, coming after a run to honor ASU legend Pat Tillman, but it was clear to Dillingham that his hometown is a work in progress. Pardon Sun Devils supporters if they’re a bit jilted following the calamity that was the Herm Edwards era.

“I thought Pat’s Run was incredible,” he said. “I was expecting more (fans) to be honest, kind of disappointed. We say we want to be a football town, right? And it was a good crowd, but it’s not what a football town should be.”

Less of a work in progress? Trenton Bourguet.

The backup-turned-starting quarterback last season had an impressive showing and hit on some throws he’s missed in the past, especially on his touchdown pass to Elijhah Badger on the first drive.

Bourguet seems to have emerged as ASU’s top option, though fall camp will certainly be a battle with former Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne, who showed out on Saturday, as well.

While the two ASU veteran QB competitors shined, stud freshman recruit Jaden Rashada struggled in his first spring game, telling reporters after the game, “My individual performance today wasn’t what I wanted,” Rashada said. “That doesn’t take away how much I did over the last 15 practices and stuff like that. But I’m having fun and that’s what it’s about: just getting better, growing as a person, growing as an athlete and you can’t complain about that and definitely can’t let a couple minutes ruin how much I developed over spring.”

With his first spring ball in the books, Dillingham is eager to get back to work.

“We’re going to have player exit interviews Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and coaches exit interviews Wednesday, and then coaches will hit the road, and I’ll hit the golf course,” he said, jokingly. “No, I start the next day and get schedules ready and get some events.”

Dillingham could be particularly busy in the coming works trying to fix a flawed ASU roster.

“We’re gong to try to improve our roster to win football games,” he said. “Everyone says it’s Year 1, build for the future — and I agree, we’re building the foundation the right way; we’re not going to cut corners. But on the same token, you owe it to your seniors to put something on the field they can be proud about 20 years from now.”

Cal: Sam Jackson V finds his rhythm early for Bears

If only for one play of the spring game, months before the actual start of the regular season, all was right with the Cal passing game.

New starting quarterback Sam Jackson V found talented wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter for a 37-yard connection, part of an 8-of-11 day for the former TCU dual-threat QB. The untested former Horned Frog backup, who played just one year of high school football at the quarterback position, needs all the in-game experience can get for the Bears, and Saturday was a big step.

“I played OK, there’s a lot of things I can work on,” Jackson told reporters after the game. “To talk about that pass, we’ve been doing that a lot. Me and J-Hunt have connected on a couple passes like that, same exact play, same exact look. … It was different, but the same look for me.”

Cal needs some major improvement at the position — the Bears haven’t had an all-conference quarterback since Jared Goff in 2015, and he parlayed his fine season into a No. 1 NFL Draft selection.

But the Bears’ offensive woes go deeper than quarterback. Star running back Jaydn Ott was absent for precautionary reasons, and Cal remains banged up throughout the offense, which ranked 11th in the conference in total offense last year.

Still, Cal coach Justin Wilcox did see improvement throughout the spring.

“I thought the attention and focus out here was really good,” Wilcox said. “Not every day was as good as the last one, but for the most part, I thought we made solid improvement. The football got better each Saturday. But we have to make a big jump before we play Sept. 2.”