Washington working hard

Defensive lineman Justin Washington is hoping for a new opportunity with the changes that have been made at Arizona. Read on for his thoughts on those changes, the team's progress, and more.

Arizona is in the midst of an intense spring practice session under a brand new coaching staff. Many players are finding the transition to be much more physically grueling than they had originally anticipated, but there has been plenty of progress made over a short period of time.

Defensive tackle Justin Washington is one player that is taking it all in. Washington believes that he and his teammates are putting in the work that is necessary in order to grow significantly as a team.

"I think we are making progress," Washington said. "It's just an everyday grind for the team. We are all just trying to get better as a team."

Washington, who will enter his junior year in 2012, acknowledges that the new coaching staff's approach varies from what he was taught during his first two years at UA. Nevertheless, the defensive tackle is willing to take on any role that is asked of him.

"It's a lot different," Washington said. "It's whatever the team wants me to do, I am going to do it."

The new coaching staff has brought a blue-collar approach to how Arizona football practices. Already building a reputation among Wildcats fans Tucson for how they run practices, Rodriguez and his staff have implemented a no-nonsense approach in their sessions and Washington has grown fond of new aura surrounding the program.

"I like the atmosphere," Washington said. "It's a hard-working atmosphere and a winning atmosphere and I feel like we are going to get there with that atmosphere."

The offense shined in the scrimmage back on March 31, but Washington doesn't believe that means the defense has fallen behind in terms of adapting to the new systems. He believes both sides of the ball have had their fair share of positive moments.

"I don't think they are really ahead," Washington said. "We are all just out here working and grinding and trying to get better. Some days they might look better and some days we look better than them."

One of the biggest statements Rodriguez made after he first got with his new roster was regarding the strength and power (or lack thereof) of the players. Rodriguez has emphasized a more physical brand of football, but according to Washington, the UA head coach has been able to do so while keeping a fast pace in practice.

"We are emphasizing on being more physical," Washington said. "We tried to come out here and be more physical and work a little bit faster, work a little harder; just to get better."

Perhaps the biggest concern surrounding Washington heading into 2012 is where he stands physically. A season ago, then-Arizona head coach Mike Stoops stated Washington had suffered from an illness in the 2011 offseason and lost a significant amount of strength and weight. There are still a little less than five months until the start of the regular season, but Washington isn't fully sure of where he stands physically.

"Right now I couldn't even tell you because I haven't been on the field that much," Washington said. "I am just out here trying to get my rhythm back."

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