Football Notebook: How does Arizona look?

The first two days of Arizona's football practice are in the books. Read on to see what Rich Rodriguez has to say about the quarterbacks, defensive line, and more.

  • Over the past few seasons, Rich Rodriguez has had some frustrating first few days, but these are better.

    "Not bad," Rodriguez said. "I thought we were in pretty good shape. It's hard to compare with the last couple years, but we started practice early and ended on time.

    "I told the team that we script an hour and 45 minute practice and it's up to them to decide if we end early or have to go over and we ended a little early today.

    "We tweaked a little bit, but not necessarily because we have guys back, but because there were a couple things we wanted to put as an emphasis early in camp and have a different structure in our practice. Our veterans, they knew how the flow goes, but you could see some of the newcomers it was a little different adjustment for them, but they'll get used to that."

  • Heading into a season with no bye weeks, Rodriguez wants to make sure his team is in the best shape possible, while also allowing his players to get the rest they need to stay healthy for the entire season.

    "Even for the guys that are veterans coming back, it's different when you practice," he said. "You can be in great shape and our practices will wear you out.

    "There are veterans who will be walking a little gingerly. They'll be sore and we have to be smart with the way our schedule lines up. They're going to have some days off anyway, but if our guys work the way I think they'll work, they may get more days off than scheduled."

  • It may only be the first two days of team practice, but Rodriguez and the other coaches have been able to work out some of the newer players in the past few weeks, something that is new this year.

    "It's a little different because we are here now and we can work with them in the summer," Rodriguez said. "We've had a chance to work with them a couple weeks ago and been a round them a little more than before.

    "There's not a whole lot of surprises, but I think I really like the newcomer group. Counting the walk-ons, there's like 35 new kids and I think several of them will play this year."

  • This will be Arizona's first season under Rodriguez with a starting quarterback returning for a second campaign. It has given the Wildcats a chance to speed up their playbook process so far.

    "It's not just that we can add more offense," Rodriguez said. "More than anything, it's that we know what Anu and Jerrard and what their strengths are and what plays they run better than others.

    "We have to be careful because we have experience there that we don't try to add too much and it slows us down or it causes poor execution. We're a little ahead of installation than we were at this point last year.

    "I think (Anu's) had a good summer. He's in pretty good shape. I thought Jerrard Randall had a pretty good day too and I think Brandon Dawkins have done some good things. Those guys put some time in this summer studying and throwing a little bit."

  • Arizona's recruiting has been able to build up the numbers on defense, but even though there are many bodies on the roster, the coaching staff doesn't believe all of them are ready.

    "I think we have more numbers on the D-line, but we have to play more guys defensively," Rodriguez said. "We've been playing 15-16 guys and we have to get 20-22 guys on defense ready to play. I know we don't have it right now, but by time the first game gets here we're going to force ourselves to get that many ready.

  • Throughout his time in the desert, Rodriguez has stressed that he wants his team to practice and play fast and nothing has changed this season.

    "I think our practices certainly aren't comfortable," he said. "I've told you guys many times before, but our guys have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

    "I want them to be comfortable when they walk out of this practice field and when they are outside the stadium in their home life, but during practice, they won't be comfortable. It's going to be hot. It's going to be intense.

    "I know some of the new guys practicing with us for the first time are probably in shock. It's a whole lot faster and you can't prepare for it, but that's the world we live in and we believe in it."


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