DOUGLAS, Ariz. (August 15) -
Saturday: A scrimmage that lasted more than an hour highlighted Day 8 eight of the Arizona football team's practices Saturday at Camp Cochise.
Although UA head coach Dick Tomey elected to holdout such players as All-Pac-10 stars Trung Canidate (tailback) and DaShon Polk (whip linebacker) from the scrimmage to avoid injury, many other frontliners got to see plenty of action, as did the second and third stringers. Tomey, however, was not pleased with the team's performance.
"We weren't very good," Tomey said. "I thought our effort was poor, and probably if you look back at this scrimmage last year, and the year before that and the year before that, you would also see that we weren't very good in those either. We will look at the film from today and grow from it, but I know we have a long way to go."
Arizona quarterbacks Keith Smith and Ortege Jenkins each took turns directing the first team offense. One of the highlights was a 30-yard touchdown pass from Smith to former back-up quarterback and current wide receiver Nick Fleury. True freshman Lance Briggs, who has been playing both fullback and linebacker, displayed some hard running and impressed Tomey.
"Lance is a big and powerful back -- and that's what we are looking for," Tomey said. "He has been splitting time on both offense and defense and we will continue to see what he can do for us on the offensive side of the ball."
As for the two quarterbacks, Tomey says evaluating their performances in camp in not a true test of their capabilities.
"This is not a good environment to judge a quarterback," he said. You have guys out there in the same color uniforms and the action is not the same speed as it is in a game. They will continue to get better and after looking at today's film, they will know what they have to work on."
Sunday: The University of Arizona football team heads into its final two days of training camp at Cochise College near here after a light day Sunday, and will keep the mode going with a single practice Monday.
"We're banged up, we're tired," coach Dick Tomey said after Sunday's spirited morning workout on the field. "We're really beat up, but that's the process. It's a hard time. Guys are hurt, sore and tired," he said.
"As a coaching staff you have to use good judgment" in orchestrating contact work, he said. "You can lose a lot right our here on the practice field," he added in hinting at more limited hitting as camp winds down. The team held swimming pool conditioning workouts and walk-throughs in the gymnasium in the afternoon's session.
Practices have switched from general improvement to working against Penn State's projected offensive, defensive and special teams' schemes.
The Cats open the season against the No. 3 Nittany Lions Aug. 28 in State College, Pa.
Tomey said he was pleased with the progress of his fourth-ranked team but added, "You never know if it bears fruit until a difficult time comes along. When you face a tough challenge then you can tell if your team (has developed). We have a reasonable base to build on," he said.
With both top receivers -- seniors Dennis Northcutt (knee) and Brad Brennan (ankle) sidelined with minor injuries, Arizona's wide receiver corps has been somewhat thin for the past few days of practices.
"It's hard to say how good we are there because we don't have our two best guys. In the end we'll probably have a better receivers corps, because a lot of the other guys are getting more work and more balls," Tomey said.
Northcutt and Brennan "have caught a million balls from Keith (Smith) and O.J. (Ortege Jenkins). Hopefully they'll get right back into the swing of it quickly," he said.
Tomey was dissatisfied with the performances of quarterbacks Smith and Jenkins in scrimmage action Saturday. "Neither one of them was good. This morning they were better. They're highly competitive guys."
Tomey had some high praise for both, however. "In my mind, there's not a better playmaker in college football who's better than (Smith). Jenkins got into the habit of always looking for the big play -- but you're not going to be consistent if you do that. He's a much better player now. He's really improved himself."
Notes: The Cats are down to two days of camp. Tomey's staff plans walk-throughs and a late afternoon practice Monday and two final sessions Tuesday. The team returns to Tucson by bus for a day off Wednesday and will practice Thursday morning and hold a scrimmage at 7 p.m. in Arizona Stadium. Chances of many regulars participating in the most of the scrimmage are slim. ... At lunch time, Tomey's attention was drawn to televised coverage of the PGA Championship. "I love watching (eventual champion) Tiger Woods play golf more than any other athlete doing anything -- except football," he told reporters. ... Tomey cited Jason Johnson, a redshirt freshman and the No. 3 quarterback, as having the best day in a recent scrimmage. "He was better than Keith or O.J. He's a really good technician. He's not as gifted as those guys, but he's going to be fine," Tomey said.