LINKS FROM DAY ONE:
— Arizona Wildcats football: Notes and observations from the first practice (Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com)
— Arizona Wildcats’ quarterback race sputters out of the gate (Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com)
— ‘Uneven’ first day of camp for B.J. Denker, Wildcats (Steve Rivera, FoxSportsArizona.com)
— Early jitters for Arizona (Daniel Berk, Arizona Daily Star)
— Uneven practice in the books (Brad Allis, WildcatSportsReport.com)
QUOTE TO NOTE:
“It was a pretty good effort by a lot of guys but some weren’t in shape. We have a handful of upperclassmen that will be doing a little extra to get in shape. They have to understand what it takes to be an elite athlete. An elite athlete doesn’t show up in August and expect to be ready to go so we’ll see what happens.” — Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez
IN THE DOGHOUSE: Senior quarterback B.J. Denker, who forced at least one pass into coverage, got a rise out of Rodriguez, who commented to the media after practice: “He won’t be talking to you today. Does that give you an idea of what I thought of his performance?” Rodriguez also told the media about Denker and the quarterbacks in general: “The execution in the passing game should be a whole lot better, even with new wide receivers, than it was today.” Denker and freshman quarterback Anu Solomon fumbled their first snaps in practice.
LOOKING GOOD: Tra’Mayne Bondurant, a junior safety, intercepted three passes thrown by Solomon. … According to Gimino, redshirt freshman end Kyle Kelley is “going to be one to watch as the Cats search for someone who can pressure the quarterback. He looks good at 6-2, 250, up 20 pounds from last season.” … The defense, which ranked 118th out of 120 FBS schools last year, looked improved. Rodriguez said he anticipated improvement. Senior linebacker Marquis Flowers has guarded optimism in order to maintain focus. “I think we should wait until the season starts to say that (they are improved), but the first day was good,” Flowers said. “Obviously being last in every category, we take that very personal, so this whole offseason we have been working into spring ball and we have more depth. I think we played hard today.”
— Sophomore defensive lineman Dan Pettinato (knee) will be out for a “few weeks”, according to Rodriguez.
— Junior quarterback Jesse Scroggins (concussion) may return by tomorrow, Rodriguez told the media.
ANALYSIS: Rodriguez is handling this team — one that is far from proving itself — the right way as camp gets started. The worst way to handle a quarterback competition is to coddle any of the quarterbacks. That approach does not produce results. By demanding the most of his quarterbacks, being tough on them in the process, Rodriguez will discover which quarterback can handle the heat the best. Expect Rodriguez, a happy-go-lucky sort off the field, to be tough as nails with Denker and Co. from now until the last game of the 2013 season. Furthermore, his comments about conditioning, or lack thereof, from the veterans entering camp is similar to what he mentioned at the beginning of last year. The bottom line: Rodriguez does not want a sustained effort from his team. He wants his players to reach gradual higher levels to avoid more five-loss seasons. — Javier Morales, WILDABOUTAZCATS.net
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.