TUCSON, Ariz. – Head coach Rich Rodriguez and the University of Arizona football program resumed spring practice on Monday at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium. The 2014 Cats worked out in full pads for two hours on their first day back from spring break. Below is a transcript of Rodriguez’s comments following practice.
On the first practice back from spring break:
“It went better than I thought. I thought it would have been a little sluggish with their minds still on spring break or the beach but they came out and I thought the enthusiasm was good. The physicality at the beginning of practice was pretty good. It was a pretty good practice for the first day back.”
On what needs to be cleaned up during the rest of spring:
“The mental part of it comes back on us coaches. More than anything, there has to be an understanding of how hard we play, how hard we practice, how hard we work. It’s been pretty good most of the time but there was that one practice that it was not that way. Today, it was. I think the message is getting across. We’ll keep coaching it to them until they get it.”
On Devin Holiday and Derek Babiash’s experience playing as true freshmen:
“That experience can help them immensely. To play as true freshmen is pretty rare especially at that position. They have to still get bigger and stronger. They’re both very conscientious. They want to be good. This is going to be a big spring for them and more importantly it’s going to be the summer. They have to live in that weight room and get bigger and stronger.”
On Devin Holiday’s first interception and his confidence:
“Sure, he was a lot more nervous than he let on but going into the second year is so much different, especially for the guys that played because they’ve been there, done that. More than anything, they should be more physically ready from a strength standpoint. That’s why the summer is going to be so important for them.”
On when a football player grows the most in a program:
“There’s no question. From your first to second year, not only are you growing mentally and mature wise but physically your body is still at that point where you’re going to make great strides in strength and conditioning. Even if you come from a very good high school program like these guys do, you still don’t have the time devoted to the weight room like they do in college. We expect all of our young guys from last year to make big gains this summer.”
On the team chemistry between players that come from similar backgrounds:
“I don’t think it matters where you come from. The chemistry will evolve if you have the right kind of atmosphere in your program. That’s what we think we have. From the upperclassmen and throughout the entire locker room, I think the chemistry on the team is really good. It’s been there since day one since I got to Arizona.”
On how much he wants the offensive line to eat:
“We weigh those guys to see if they’re too light or too heavy but what matters are if they eat right and work out the right way. I’m worried about them not eating the right things and are their strength numbers not where they should be because they’re not eating the right things. That’s more concerning than what the rate is.”
“It’s more of us educating our guys. If they’re treating themselves as an elite athlete, they need to live, eat, train and sleep like an elite athlete. Sometimes I don’t think we’ve done that but we’re getting closer to doing that. It has always been important. Now you learn every year the value of nutrition and sleep for the athletes. It’s nothing new. I’ve had a great strength and training staff everywhere I’ve been. I’m getting our guys focused on being a year-round elite athlete because it’s a little bit different for them. They have to understand that. I think they do and that they want that. We just have to continue educating them on that.”For continued coverage of Arizona football, follow the team on Facebook at facebook.com/ArizonaFootball and on Twitter @ArizonaFBall.