April 2, 2002
TUCSON - The Wildcat football team practiced in full pads Tuesday to start off its final week of spring ball, with heavy emphasis on pass protection, and heac coach John Mackovic seemed pleased with the workout.
"We had a good hard work day. I wasn't satisfied (last) Friday with pass protection" during a week-ending scrimmage, he said, "But we made good progress today. Some times it's how the players feel (about the work), and today I think even they were impressed," he added.
The Cats also worked on some goal-line situations, which Mackovic said hasn't been a key focus for much of spring ball. "The offense, with one day's notice, had some really nice plays. And the defense had some hits, too," he said.
UA has only a practice in shorts Wednesday and drills on Thursday before it concludes spring ball Saturday, which began March 1. Coaches have divided the team into two units that will square off at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Spring Game to culminate the allowed 15 practices during spring.
"The difference between spring ball this year and last year is that the players know what we're doing. It will enable us to move faster in the fall," Mackovic said.
He cited place kicker Sean Keel Tuesday as one player who's likely to hang on to his starting job. "Sean's been kicking the ball well and you have to respect his position as a (three-year) player," he said, but wasn't necessarily conceding the job to the senior-to-be. "Bobby Gill has shown us some good things and will be ready to compete hard in the fall.
Sophomore Kirk Johnson, a defensive player expected to contend for a major role at linebacker or the hybrid safety/linebacker that defensive coaches have used in many formations during spring, showed up to practice on crutches minutes after arthroscopy on his left knee Tuesday. "I asked him where his pads and helmet were," Mackovic joked, but added he was impressed with Johnson's devotion to football.