Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Special Teams a Focus
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: August 09, 1999
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DOUGLAS, Ariz. (August 9) - Arizona's fall football training camp switched gears as coaches turned to a highly instructional schedule and spent two hours in the morning and one in the afternoon in "walk-through" teaching clinics, especially in installing the Wildcats' special teams' schemes.

The Cats actually practiced only once on Monday, unlike the first two days when the squad endured two 90-minute sessions in the morning and one in the late afternoon.

"We did a lot of good work today," UA coach Dick Tomey said. "We spent a lot of time on special teams. I always feel good when we work hard on special teams, especially early in camp. We put in some (schemes) that should pay off down the road."

Arizona's special teams blocked eight kicks in 1998, plus had a kickoff return for a touchdown, led the Pac-10 in punt returns and was among league leaders in kick coverage.

Arizona still has eight days left in its camp at Cochise College near here and will spend three more days of the stint with multiple walk-throughs, using considerable time to develop some of its younger players, Tomey said.

During the afternoon's hitting session in helmets and shoulder pads, the Cats' defense appeared to have a strong showing against Arizona's offense, a school record-setting unit in 1998 with 445 yards per game.

Tomey cited junior starting defensive end Joe Tafoya as one of the team's hidden keys. "He plays a position which doesn't pile up the statistics like tackles and sacks, but which is so vital to our defense. As far as what we do -- he's the guy. He's one of our best players and his determination is incredible."

Tomey described the Cats' camp -- a lot of work on basics -- as a normal approach. "We're trying to get ready for the whole season. In ten days or so we'll focus on Penn State (the team's opener Aug 28), but now we want to work on a fundamental base, temperament and attitude. Our approach is the same as it's been almost every year," he said.

Notes: Senior wide receiver Brad Brennan, fresh off rehabilitation for ankle surgery in the off season, suffered a setback in one drill when he pull up with a hamstring injury. He's expected to miss practice for an unknown period of time... The Wildcats' early rankings attracted some national coverage on Monday. A crew from ESPN's College Game Day show spent eight hours in camp to shoot interviews for its Aug. 28 coverage from State College, Pa., plus reporters from California and Washington newspapers showed up to gather material for feature stories... Some newer faces have appeared to move up the depth charts, including junior college transfers Austin Uku and Kevin Barry, a defensive end and offensive guard, respectively, and freshman tailback Leo Mills.

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