March 30, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team returned to the practice field Sunday afternoon for a fast-paced workout, as the Wildcats continue to prepare for the 2003 season. Head coach John Mackovic and the Wildcat assistant coaches continue to emphasize the importance of fundamentals on both sides of the ball in the early stages of spring drills.
"I really hope that we make each other work hard on both offense and defense," Mackovic said. "I would hate to see that either the offense or defense would dominate a scrimmage or any part of a practice. We should have a good read on the players by the time we watch films on Saturday night because we will have already completed six practices by then."
For the second day of drills, the full team was together in shells, as the Wildcats worked in several full-line and seven-on-seven passing and rushing sessions for much of the afternoon. The team closed the session with tempo running and conditioning.
Under the guidance of Mackovic and first-year offensive coordinator Mike Deal, the offense continued to install new plays. At the same time, the defense maintained its focus on fundamentals, as the defensive players continue to learn and adapt to the squad's newly installed defensive scheme.
Following the second day of drills, first-year defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz explained that the transition from the double-eagle flex to the multiple 3-4 defense will be "rough for the first week or so because the players are trying to learn new plays and new terminology."
"It (double-eagle flex) was different enough that there won't be as much carry over to the new scheme," Hankwitz said. "But, we are trying to teach fundamentals and different coverages, and we are pushing the players to learn and work hard."
"There is a lot more movement on defense, and the coaches are focusing a lot more on tackling drills," Mackovic added. "The defensive coaches are spending a lot of time teaching, but they are making sure that everyone is learning and progressing."
The Wildcats return to the practice field on Tuesday, April 1, at 4:30 p.m., and they will practice in full pads at that time.
Arizona is scheduled to hold six practices in the next two weeks before the team takes to Arizona Stadium for the annual Red-Blue Scrimmage on April 12, at 1 p.m.
Arizona is allowed 15 spring practices under NCAA guidelines and will conclude sessions with the team's final practice on Thursday, April 24. All spring practices are open to the public. Most are scheduled on the practice facility at North Campbell Avenue and Enke Drive, across from McKale Center, but the Spring Game and some other sessions will be held in Arizona Stadium.