TUCSON, Ariz. – Head coach Rich Rodriguez and the University of Arizona football program opened spring practice on Monday at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium. The 2014 Cats worked out in shells and shorts for two hours. Below is a transcript of Rodriguez’s comments following practice.
On making the team feel comfortable with uncomfortable:
“We won’t sacrifice tempo to teach. They’ve got to learn at our pace. Most of those quarterbacks have been around long enough to know that they have to learn at a faster pace. They did okay today. We only had two pass plays in.”
On making the team time to teach such a large group of quarterbacks:
“Yell and scream. No, it’s all about reps. We rep everyone all practice. We can only go three deep on a full team period. Coach (Rod) Smith does a good job of getting them in there and getting reps. By the end of spring, they will have plenty of time to evaluate and figure it out.”
On being back on the field for spring practices:
“It’s 70 degrees, beautiful weather. We’re fortunate to have our field in good shape. I think the guys are ready to get out of the weight room a little bit but we’re still going to lift two days a week now on the days that we don’t practice. I thought the effort was pretty good. I thought the intensity was good, which it should be because you’re in shorts and out here in nice weather. I’ll have to watch the film to see how we executed but I think we have a chance to be a little faster but I have some concerns, too.”
On where quarterback Jesse Scroggins has made the most improvements:
“The biggest thing for Jesse is being comfortable in calm play and knowing where his eyes are at. He’s still getting lost a little bit but I can see that he has gotten better as has Anu (Solomon), Connor (Brewer), and Nick (Isham) being in the system. It’s wide open. Truly, I don’t know, and I don’t expect us to have a particular pecking order done by the spring but I would hope that there are at least two or three that we feel we could win with these guys.”
On quarterback Jerrard Randall:
“He’s like when the guys first get here, he’s going 100 miles an hour. He can throw (the ball) through a pane glass window but everything is moving fast, his eyes, his feet, his mind. It’ll slow down for him as spring goes on.”
On how much faster the team is:
“Well, we are probably at a seven, speed wise, if last year was a five, which is good but we’re still not strong enough. I just told them from an upper body strength, we are woefully weak. We were weak last year and weaker the year before that. We are stronger but not to where we have to be.”
On teaching speed:
“I think you can teach guys to be faster. I have enough confidence in our strength staff. They’ve done a great job, have gotten the guys faster but it’s easier to recruit it than to teach it.”
On Austin Hill:
“He’s 100 percent, doing everything, running, everything. He’s still wearing the brace for his own confidence. I like the way he looks and the way he’s running around. There’s no hesitation whatsoever, which is a good thing.”
On the release of the “Speed” video:
“Matt Dudek thinks the Oscars were too soon. He thinks he should be up for some kind of daytime Emmy. That was fun. It only took an hour of my time. Our video people are so talented. They just tell me to show up and shoot for half an hour or 45 minutes and I’m done. Next thing you know they put out some little video. I’ll catch grief from some people about it but it’s fun. We’ve probably made the point, many times, about how we feel about the proposed rule change. Anytime we can get the program out there, whether it’s in a silly way or not, we are going to do it.”
On if recruits notice the videos put out by the program:
“Yeah, they do. I’m not sure about this one but the ‘Hard Edge’ ones and some of the others that involve players and sound bites I know they notice. We’ve got some more in the works. Again, this day in age with social media, you can get a message out there or at least get a video out there that shows our program and have a little fun with it. I think our audience that we are trying to reach other than our fan base, is of course those 17- and 18-year-old guys that we may want to play football for us.”
On the first day of spring without Ka’Deem Carey:
“Ka’Deem was such a good player but he also had a certain energy to him. Our Pro Day is Thursday, so we’re hoping those guys will perform well. I still say that Pro Days are good but the guys are going to evaluate on film.”
On the group of running backs:
“They’re all young. They’re going to get a lot of reps this spring because there aren’t a lot of them yet. We’re still waiting on (Jonathan) Haden to get cleared. He’ll be the fourth guy but they’re going to get a lot of reps. They’re talented but you can see that they’re inexperienced at times.”
On if there is a guy that brings the same energy as Ka’Deem Carey:
“There are other guys like DaVonte’ (Neal), Austin (Hill) and some of those other guys bring that to us offensively. Like I said, we thought Ka’Deem was the best running back in the nation. We’re going to miss that for sure. There are guys on defense, the secondary guys that have been playing for a while. The intensity and enthusiasm was pretty good but we’re not running a cheerleading contest here. I’m just looking for effort and execution more than anything else.”
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