March 29, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team kicked off 2003 spring practice Saturday morning with a three-hour workout at the UA practice facility. Head coach John Mackovic and the Wildcat coaching staff put the players through the paces, focusing heavily on fundamentals and position drills.
"We had a real good start working together today," Mackovic said following the first of 15 spring practice sessions. "The players were very active, and there was a lot of movement on the field."
The full team was together in shorts and shoulder pads for the first time in early morning drills, as the players and coaches focused on the importance of fundamentals and proper technique for most of the morning. The Wildcats also worked in several full-line and seven-on-seven passing and rushing sessions with evident enthusiasm.
To open spring drills, sophomore quarterback Nic Costa led the offense in skeleton passing drills against the linebackers and defensive backs. Redshirt freshman Ryan O'Hara and senior John Rattay also had their share of practice time during the team's first session. Mackovic said earlier in the week that Costa and O'Hara are expected to split about 80 percent of the total repetitions throughout the duration of spring drills.
The squad closed the session with 45 minutes of team action.
Following the team's first practice, Mackovic emphasized that the coaches and players need to work on "getting the defense installed and getting the defensive personnel situated."
In addition, Arizona's offensive line boasted a new feature on the first day of spring drills - knee braces. Each of the Wildcat offensive linemen sported a set of knee braces as a way to prevent those injuries that plagued several linemen last season.
"Towards the end of last season, I decided that we had too many of those injuries that could possibly be prevented with the braces," Mackovic said. "There are a lot of teams wearing them, and we decided to go ahead and get started with them."
Mackovic also announced that junior cornerback Anthony Fulcher has left the team. Fulcher, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., moved from halfback to defensive back at the beginning of spring practice in 2002, and he redshirted last season in order to learn UA's defensive scheme. Mackovic said Fulcher has requested a transfer and is looking into attending other schools at this time.
The Wildcats are scheduled to hold seven 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.
The Wildcats return to the practice field on Sunday, March 30, at 3 p.m.