Rodriguez preparing for spring ball

Arizona will start spring practice on Monday. Read on to see what head coach Rich Rodriguez is looking forward to and more.

This isn't Rich Rodriguez's first spring football and he knows exactly what he will be looking for this time around.

"Well really there's two main phases," Rodriguez said. "Evaluate, not just the guys that are returning, but the new guys, because we have several new guys here. We want to see who is going to be ready to help us in the fall.

"The other is developing and teaching some techniques. Half the time, I cross my fingers and hope to keep guys from getting hurt, but you have to teach some blocking and some tackling just so the young guys get the fundamentals down."

Speaking on injuries, Rodriguez is thankful that there are currently not any major ones.

"We don't have as many," he said. "This year we are healthier. Of course, we had some minor injuries, some guys that had surgeries that will be out in the spring, but we will have a few more bodies and will be able to get a little more production with them."

There are numerous position battles that will start and Rodriguez is looking forward to the increased competition level.

"Our goal every year is to be more competitive," he said. "The guys that were redshirted last year, the guys that we have brought in, and the guys that will be coming here in the fall, we have to create competition.

"We had some, but not nearly the level that you are supposed to have and need to have. Even though we will have more this fall, a lot of the competition is going to be young. In a year or two, we will have competition from every level."

One of the main reasons why competition will increase is because Arizona has brought in numerous transfers that are eligible right away.

"You know the high school guys will take a little bit longer, but the junior college guys are going to get thrown right in the mix," Rodriguez said.

"Their heads will be spinning, especially the first couple of practices with the tempo of how we like to do things. I'm anxious to see all of them. Even if they don't hit very much I think you can still tell if a guy is going to help you."

As Rodriguez does watch those players, he admits that he has more patience with them this time of year.

"I have a lot more than in the fall," he said. "In the fall, I get wired pretty easily just because we have to get ready for a game. In the spring, there's no threat of losing the spring game. If we lose that it will be a long season.

"To me, spring is a little bit more fun for the coaches and players because there's more competition and you don't have to worry about getting ready for a game.

"I do want our guys to have a sense of urgency to prove themselves. We have a lot of new guys and returning guys that have a lot to prove and I hope they feel that way."

In addition to the competition on the field, Rodriguez is hoping leaders emerge.

"It always starts with the senior class," he said. "It's not a big senior class. There are some natural leaders in there. I mentioned Austin Hill, Jared Tevis has been around, Jonathan McKnight has been around, Tra'mayne Bondurant has been around, and from the offensive line Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele have been around seems like forever.

"So we have some guys with natural leadership ability. As the spring goes on and I get a chance to meet with them before the summer, that is when the leadership will really take hold."

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