Cats speak out at media day

Arizona held its annual football media day to kick off the start of the football season. It's the first opportunity to talk to the players since spring practice and a lot has happened since April.

Coach John Mackovic started out the festivities by talking to the media for over half and hour. In addition to answering questions, Mackovic gave a sort of "state-of-the-program" speech, catching everyone up on what is happening.

Among the topic covered were who has left the program, who is injured and how practice will operate.

"We have a lot of unanswered questions," Mackovic said. "Some seem to pop up on a daily basis, but we are doing our best to solve those question marks."

Mackovic gave us some insight into what exactly will be covered offensively in both the morning and evening sessions.

"We will have our morning practices at Camp Rincon," Mackovic said. "Generally we will be there at approximately 8:45 a.m., and practice starts about 9 a.m. We will practice here (at McKale) in the afternoons. We will go back to Camp Rincon for practice in the evening, with practice starting at 8 p.m. In the mornings we will feature emphasis on the running game although we will do a lot of passing all of the time. We have to be sure that we get our run installation in every day."

Mackovic suggested that six running plays would be implemented in the morning, compared to two in the afternoon. He plans on adding eight passing plays in the morning and eight more in the evening.

The biggest news came in the personnel department. A lot of things have changed in the last few days, with the punting situation coming to the forefront.

"Chris Palic came in Sunday evening, and he told us that he had accepted a job to be a policeman in Oro Valley, so he is not going to return this year. That opens the door for us to begin tryouts, so to speak, at our punting position. It will be interesting, and it is an area that we have to pay careful attention to in the practices."

Ramey Peru appears to be the heir apparent, and is the only pure punter on the roster.

"You can't go into the season with only one punter," Peru said. "I have to continue to improve on the things I showed in spring ball."

The defensive end situation went from uncertain to very thin with a couple of injuries.

"Eli (Wnek) will probably be out until October," Mackovic said. "It is a tough break for him, but I firmly believe that if he can come back right on time, he has a great chance of making academic All-American. He is an outstanding student, and no one will come back with more of a passion to play and do a good job.

"Johnny Jackson has a back that is flaring up a little bit," Mackovic continued. "We're hopeful that he will be able to get into things quickly, but we don't know, and we will have to see what he can do."

Two players who are now thrust into the forefront of the defensive end battle are Fata Avegalio and Andy Nuessle.

"We all just have to step up," Avegalio said.

Nuessle has been shifted from defensive end to line backer on a few occasions in his Wildcat career, but that hasn't phased the walk-on from Fountain Hills, Arizona.

"It's no big deal," Nuessle said. "I played both a lot in high school and I feel confident playing either."

Mackovic also said that evaluating the rookies whenever possible.

"We are going to give our rookies a good look because I expect that we have rookies who are talented enough to play," Mackovic said.

The incoming freshman know they have a lot of work to do.

"Everyone here can play," said freshman quarterback Nic Costa. "In high school maybe one or two guys on each team were really good."

"I kind of knew what to expect," said freshman halfback Gainius Scott, brother of former Wildcat lineman Yusuff Scott. "There's a lot to learn, but I like it."

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