Wildcats developing hard edge

Rich Rodriguez has been consistent in saying that Arizona needs a hard edge. Read on to see how he develops that, whether Arizona has it now, and more.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez has proceeded through camp and practice with the mantra that the Wildcats need a "hard edge."

While there are many factors that go into winning and losing, Rodriguez and his coaching staff believe that mentality will go a long way in determining which side the Wildcats wind up on.

"That was a point I brought up to them again," Rodriguez said. "It's going to be the background and environment of our program as far as guys understanding we play as hard as we possibly can and overcome any kind of adversity whether it's the first quarter, fourth quarter, home, away, ahead or behind.

"We are going to play with the same level of intensity and same level of physicalness. It sometimes takes a while to develop that environment in your program, but it carries over in the weight room, it carries over in the academic arena and frankly we have to get better at that."

Rodriguez says that the mentality is something that goes beyond the simple plays on the football field.

"Sometimes when you talk about toughness and nastiness, people just think about big hits, but it's a lot about toughness both mental and physical," he said. "We have to pride our program on that and probably some of the greatest teams here and greatest players here have had that ‘hard edge'.

"You talk about Chuck Cecil, Tedy Bruschi and Ricky Hunley – those guys probably exuded that better than anybody in college football at the time. So that's what we have to develop, recruit to and think about every day."

In terms of whether or not that hard edge could be taught, Rodriguez believes that it is indeed something players can eventually get.

"You try to develop certainly," he said. "You try to coach it that way, you try to train it that way in the weight room and you hope they have it inherently, but like I tell our guys, some guys are born naturally with the tough gene and the hard edge gene and some guys develop it.

"I think it is the environment they are around and their teammates have it and when you have a bunch of teammates that have that hard edge, eventually you have it."

One of the positions that may need that hard edge the most is the offensive line and coach Robert Anae says that he is working hard to make sure the line develops it.

"We are all about developing the hard edge and that is making each other uncomfortable," Anae said. "I am never and hopefully you never see me in a comfortable position. It is a hard edge that we are obsessed with becoming."

Anae agrees with Rodriguez about whether or not it can be taught and developed, but cautions that it is not easy to do so.

"I do believe we can, absolutely," Anae said. "It never is and or will be an easy thing and it is never something you just fall into."

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