March 24 Practice Notebook

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday. Read on to see what he says about his sophomore corners, team nutrition, and more.

Arizona football was back in action on Monday and head coach Rich Rodriguez was happy with the way it went.

"It went better than I thought," he said. "I thought it would have been a little sluggish with their minds still on spring break or the beach, but they came out and I thought the enthusiasm was good. The physicality at the beginning of practice was pretty good. It was a pretty good practice for the first day back.

"The mental part of it comes back on us coaches. More than anything, there has to be an understanding of how hard we play, how hard we practice, how hard we work.

"It's been pretty good most of the time, but there was that one practice that it was not that way. Today, it was. I think the message is getting across. We'll keep coaching it to them until they get it."

  • The coaching staff is expecting big things at corner from Devin Holiday and Derek Babiash, as Rodriguez feels their experience will pay dividends.

    "That experience can help them immensely," Rodriguez said. "To play as true freshmen is pretty rare, especially at that position. They have to still get bigger and stronger. They're both very conscientious. They want to be good. This is going to be a big spring for them and more importantly it's going to be the summer. They have to live in that weight room and get bigger and stronger.

    "Going into the second year is so much different, especially for the guys that played because they've been there, done that. More than anything, they should be more physically ready from a strength standpoint. That's why the summer is going to be so important for them."

  • Rodriguez believes that the biggest jump in skills and maturity occurs between the freshman and sophomore year.

    "There's no question," he said. "From your first to second year, not only are you growing mentally and mature wise, but physically your body is still at that point where you're going to make great strides in strength and conditioning.

    "Even if you come from a very good high school program like these guys do, you still don't have the time devoted to the weight room like they do in college. We expect all of our young guys from last year to make big gains this summer."

  • In addition to focusing on play on the field, Arizona is also working on developing its overall team chemistry.

    "I don't think it matters where you come from," Rodriguez said. "The chemistry will evolve if you have the right kind of atmosphere in your program. That's what we think we have.

    "From the upperclassmen and throughout the entire locker room, I think the chemistry on the team is really good. It's been there since day one since I got to Arizona."

  • Rodriguez has made no secret of the fact that nutrition is a big part of his football program and it continues to be so.

    "We weigh those guys to see if they're too light or too heavy, but what matters is if they eat right and work out the right way," he said. "I'm worried about them not eating the right things and are their strength numbers not where they should be because they're not eating the right things. That's more concerning than what the rate is.

    "It's more of us educating our guys. If they're treating themselves as an elite athlete, they need to live, eat, train and sleep like an elite athlete. Sometimes I don't think we've done that, but we're getting closer to doing that. It has always been important. Now you learn every year the value of nutrition and sleep for the athletes. It's nothing new.

    "I've had a great strength and training staff everywhere I've been. I'm getting our guys focused on being a year-round elite athlete because it's a little bit different for them. They have to understand that. I think they do and that they want that. We just have to continue educating them on that."

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