Practice Report: First day in pads

If the Wildcat coaching staff is as good at making on the fly adjustments during games as they are in dealing with the weather, then the Cats are in for a big year. After a midday storm swept through Tucson, flooding the practice field, the staff adjusted and moved practice out to the turf practice field at the east campus of Pima Community College.

The Cats were delayed by just thirty minutes as they had to move their entire practice set-up out to the field on the south east side of Tucson. Pads, sleds and even hydraulic scaffolds were in place for the camera crews.

The turf was bone dry and perfect for a day like Tuesday. By the time the Cats took the field there was almost no evidence that it had stormed just an hour earlier.

"Pima ha been nice enough to let us use their facilities in the middle apart of the day," said Mike Stoops. "It was a good alternative. Our fields are too wet with all the rain, obviously. It was good to stay on schedule and get a good practice in." The Cats were in full pads on Tuesday, but there was not a huge difference in the amount of hitting going on. The team went at it pretty good when they were wearing just helmets and shoulder pads.

"It is no different," Stoops admitted. "Shoot. We do virtually everything the same as we did the last two days. It didn't change much."

Early on the Cats did their individual position drills. The tight ends worked with the fullbacks on blocking. They did a variety of drills to enhance footwork and technique. Since the H-back position is very similar to the tight end spot it was natural for the units to work together.

The safeties were really working on tracking the ball in the air. They would drop back in coverage and passes were thrown all over the field, forcing them to adjust and find the ball. At the same time the corner backs were getting a lot of instruction on proper footwork.

For the linebackers Tuesday saw a lot of work on pass coverage and locating the ball in the air.

After than groups got together. Both lines went at it on the smaller side field, while the DB's and LB's worked a lot on various coverages and working together to cover as much territory as possible.

After that the backers and running backs joined the linemen for running drills, while the DB's joined the QB's and WR's for 1-on-1 drills.

After a break, the team went into special teams work. They did an interesting drill where players worked on blocking punts. Instead of using harder footballs, the Cats worked on getting their hands on volleyballs.

Next it was on to 7-on-7 drills. Early on Richard Kovalcheck and Adam Austin split the reps. All of Kovalcheck's passes went for 10 yards or less. He finished 7-7 for about 38 yards Austin stretched the field a little bit more. He hit a jumping Anthony Johnson on a 20-yard gain then found Travis Bell and Michael Thomas on consecutive 25-yarders. Tuitama and Austin split the final reps. The freshman completed all three of his attempts, going short each time. I had him at 3-3 for 15 yards.

Austin was 8-9 for about 100 yards.

They transitioned to 11-on-11 drills. Early on they passed far more than they ran, but a second session was far more balanced.

Kovalcheck got the first four snaps. He found former Pima standout Brad Wood for 10 yards on his first toss. After an incompletion he hit B.J. Dennard for 15 yards.

Austin got the next six snaps. He was sacked on first down, then threw an incomplete pass. After that he hit Syndric Steptoe for 15 yards. He hit Michael Jefferson on the sideline 20-yard down field. Freshman Brandon Tatum dove to break up the pass, but missed and Jefferson could have walked into the endzone had they not blown the play dead.

Kovalcheck's next snaps were all hand offs, except for a five yard swing pass. His next series was not very good. His deep pass to Steptoe was batted away by Michael Beach. His next pass was picked off by Tatum. After a run by Chris Henry he missed on his final attempt. All told Kovalcheck was 4-5 for about 35 yards. Austin was 4-8 for 60. Tuitama was 3-4 for around 30 yards. His lone miss was a strange play. The pass was picked off by Corey Hall but the whistle blew after Tuitama threw the ball. The receiver seemed to let up just a bit, but Hall did not. It looked as if it was Hall's pick all the way, but it is tough to tell.


*The Cats were originally scheduled to begin two-a-days on Wednesday, but due to a large number of players who have finals for summer school, the team will work out just once. Practice is scheduled for 2:45.

*With Lamon Means being limited early on in practice, Michael Johnson has been working with the first team at safety. Means is working with the second team and has seen a lot of reps at nickel back.

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