Battle for tailback spot highlights scrimmage

Updated: August 17, 2003, 2:05 AM ET

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Clarence Farmer scored on a 1-yard run in his first extended contact since last year as the Arizona Wildcats tuned up with an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday night.

Farmer, the 2001 Pac-10 rushing leader, missed eight games last season after tearing cartilage in his left knee. After it was repaired, he missed the spring drills to rehabilitate, then was suspended by coach John Mackovic for undisclosed reasons.

With two weeks remaining until Arizona's season opener against Texas El-Paso, the battle for the starting halfback spot continued between Farmer and Mike Bell.

Farmer had 25 yards on nine carries; Bell had 67 yards on three, including a 56-yard touchdown run against the Wildcats' No. 1 defense.

"We moved the ball, but it is not where we want to be," Farmer said. "We are trying to improve as a group."

The rushing attack was featured in nearly 80 offensive plays, reflecting concern over 2002's last-place finish among 117 Division I-A schools with a 44-yard average on the ground.

"Our running backs really have to do good things for us, and hopefully we can continue to grow with them and count on them," Mackovic said.

Quarterbacks Ryan O'Hara and Nic Costa did not separate themselves much in the search for a starter.

O'Hara completed 3-of-6 passes for 57 yards, and Costa was 4-of-7 for 69 yards and had a 2-yard scoring run.

Lance Relford was the top receiver with three catches for 65 yards. Matt Padron had two for 35.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index