LINKS FROM DAY 16 (MONDAY):
— GOAZCATS.com has senior B.J. Denker as the No. 1 quarterback on its depth chart of every UA position
— Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com writes that true freshman linebacker Scooby Wright and how Wright may follow in the footsteps of his favorite player Tedy Bruschi and start in his first collegiate game
— Steve Rivera of FoxSportsArizona.com writes about three transfers, including Phoenix-area products Connor Brewer and DaVonte’ Neal, finding a home in Tucson
— Daniel Berk of The Arizona Daily Star believes the four quarterbacks in camp who will get the most reps include B.J. Denker, Jesse Scroggins, Nick Isham and Javelle Allen
— At least the media in Michigan still cares about RichRod news: The Detroit News published an Associated Press story about Rich Rodriguez (Michigan’s former coach) waiting for a quarterback to emerge at Arizona, drawing the ire of a couple of fans in the comment section
QUOTE TO NOTE:
“This is the least hitting I’ve done in 20 years of coaching football. You need to be extra cautious and coach a different way than you ever have. You need to get guys ready to play. This is not the pros, we still need to teach our guys how to tackle and block. We need to find that fine line where we do enough to get them taught but not to beat up your team. Hopefully, we’ll be healthy and ready to play the first game.” — Rodriguez after Monday’s practice, as published by ArizonaWildcats.com.
CONCERN: Rodriguez’s comment above can be translated into the Wildcats’ living precariously with their starters in a few positions. As is the case with any winning team, practically all of the starters or major contributors must stay healthy. Rodriguez may have more reinforcements than his first season last year, but the backups are mostly inexperienced or unproven. He reiterated that 44 freshmen are participating in camp (24 of them from the Class of 2013 signed in February). By the end of the year, as long as Rodriguez’s pivotal players remain healthy, most of his team will mature together and be more cohesive — that’s a positive way of looking at it.
LOOKING GOOD: Berk writes that Rodriguez said Sahuaro High School product Drew Riggleman is in the lead right for the starting punter job. Concerning the placekicker competition, Rodriguez said that likely choice Jake Smith “has had a real good camp” but also mentioned three other kickers are in the running (Casey Skowron, a sophomore, and freshmen Bret Miller and Jack Flatau). At least Rodriguez is not lamenting about shortcomings at either position. Hope exists that Arizona can win the field-position battle with its punting and create confidence with at least extra-point attempts going as planned (which has not been a foregone conclusion in recent years).
— Sophomore defensive lineman Dan Pettinato (knee) will be out until at least the third week of the season, according to Rodriguez
ANALYSIS: It’s obvious that Arizona’s early-season schedule against NAU, UNLV and Texas-San Antonio plays into Rodriguez’s plan to not hold extended scrimmages and keeping hitting at a minimum. If Arizona was playing Oregon early, for example, the physicality would be much more substantial to toughen up the team. Can you imagine Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer saying that this is the least amount of hitting his team has done in the last 20 years before facing Alabama in the season opener? Coaches must coach to their personnel and Rodriguez — let’s not forget he’s only in his second season of building talent at Arizona — is working with a UA roster that has inexperienced backups at practically every position except running back and defensive end. With that being the case, Rodriguez is handling his team the right way instead of being overzealous. The schedule allows him to be that way. The Wildcats must keep their “hard edge”, however, when they look across the field at the Lumberjacks on Aug. 30.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.