Aug. 1, 2012
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Arizona Wildcat football team officially reported to preseason training camp on Wednesday afternoon, while head coach Rich Rodriguez addressed local media in McKale Center on the eve of team's first practice scheduled for Thursday evening. Players and coaches went through a serious of administrative tasks on Wednesday, ranging from equipment check-in, photo headshots and team meetings. Rodriguez spent nearly a half-hour late Wednesday morning briefing local reporters on his inaugural squad as it prepares to open official practices 24 hours from now. The Wildcats will hold all of their practices in Tucson on campus, most at the converted Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium, which is becoming the team's primary practice facility this season. Rodriguez said the team will have the option to use the Jimenez Practice Facility throughout camp. Arizona will also spend four days at Fort Huachua, a U.S. Army installation about 75 miles southeast of Tucson. The Wildcats have trained there for several days each year since 2008. Arizona opens its 2012 season on Saturday, Sept. 1, against Toledo to mark the first of three-straight night games to open the season at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats host eight total home contests this season, including five against Pac-12 foes. Tickets are available at the McKale Center Ticket office, by visiting ArizonaWildcats.com or by calling 520-621-2287 or 1-800-452-CATS.
Rich Rodriguez Reporting Day Press Conference Transcript Aug. 1, 2012 | McKale Center Lohse Room Opening Statement: "The players report today. Most of them have done their physicals, most of them have their equipment, and we are going to do some administrative things tonight. Tomorrow we start practice. We are going to have practices around game times, so one-a-days will be around 6 p.m. There may be some monsoons or some rain, so we may adjust if we get frustrated with the delay of practices. I hope our guys had a good summer. We are limited in the contact we can have with them, but from the guys I have seen, they are excited for camp, and I'm excited for our first camp together. Hopefully our guys look hungry and continue to want to prove themselves." On coaches evaluating film during offseason: "Most of the film we saw was immediately after the spring so it was fresh in our minds. The coaches have watched some on their positions. We did some self-scouting and we also scouted a few of our first opponents." On the middle linebacker position: "That is definitely our thinnest position, and some of our guys will need to be ready a lot sooner than they thought, particularly some freshman. Jake Fischer is the only guy we know that has gotten a lot of experience, but outside of him, it is wide open. Hopefully these freshman will grow up in a hurry and Coach (Jeff) Casteel will get whoever is there ready to play." On the current depth chart: "There were a lot of "ors", but that is because we aren't sure yet in a lot of positions. The spring did tell us a little bit though. I think we will get a better idea at the end of camp on how we are going to be this year, but I won't really know until we play a couple of games. We are starting all over again with a clean slate, and everybody has to earn their spots." On the evaluation of players: "It takes a couple games. In the spring, we saw a little bit of what they could do, and they were also learning a new system. But by the end of the spring they looked comfortable. There were a handful of players that were injured during the spring or didn't perform as well as we wanted them to. I don't know what they did during the summer, but I know a lot of guys were here and depending on how hard they worked during the summer, it will make the transition a lot easier for them. In spring, we didn't have to have a sense of urgency to get them ready to play. We just needed to teach and concentrate on the fundamentals. Now in the fall camps, we're going to do evaluations, but we need to have a sense of urgency to get ready to play and to be able to count on them on September 1." On the new practice fields at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium: "The grounds crew did a great job at Sancet. They put grass down on what was the infield so we now get almost two full practice fields - one for the offense and one for the defense. We will still use the Jimenez practice field during camp a little. All but the four days at Fort Huachuca we will practice here on campus. We are turning Sancet into our new official practice field." On taking the team to Fort Huachuca for several days next week: "I haven't heard a single negative about it. I did look at everything and talk to a lot of former players and coaches and they all say positive things about it. To truly get a camp-type atmosphere, we need to go out of town, and it is nice to get a true camp atmosphere. I am excited to go set up for it." On taking teams off-campus to camps at previous schools: "We never really did that at my other schools, but we would put the players in a hotel or a dorm so there is somewhat of a camp atmosphere. At Tulane when I was a coordinator, we took them to a camp out of town, and that was the best thing that we did. This (going to Fort Huachuca) should be good for us." On Matt Scott's workload during camp: "It will be similar to what it was during the spring. We have more quarterbacks now, I think we have seven, so we don't have to monitor his throws as much. He still won't get hit because we need him healthy for the season, but from a rep standpoint, he will still have the same amount of reps as he did during the spring. I talked to him and he said that he feels good physically." On the health of the team: "Other than Adam Hall and Jack Baucus we look pretty good. I don't think Jack will be able to play for us this year so unfortunately his career may be over. There are a couple of minor things, but we will be ok. Health will be critical for us this year. We have to make practice physical so we can get tougher, but we can't beat ourselves up at practice. We won't have those every day so when we do have those physical practices, we really need to get after it. It needs to be really intense." On possible Penn St. players looking to transfer: "We did talk to a few of them who reached out to us, and some of our players know some of the players at Penn St. But we are not actively pursuing any of them right now." On Arizona's opponents: "I'm not looking forward to any of our opponents right now. I'm looking forward to practice. Traditionally, I don't talk a lot about our opponents until it gets closer to game day. I'm worried about Arizona right now." On the freshmen class entering camp: "I wish I knew what they were like, but we are following the rules. The basketball coaches have it figured out. They can work with their kids a couple hours a week and they don't start playing any games until December. We have a game the first of September and we couldn't do anything with them this summer. We have more guys and more of a sense of urgency to get ready earlier, and we have less of a clue of what our team is like. It makes no sense. College athletes are better off with more guidance, and more eyes. I just want the month of June to be able to work with them." On where the freshmen will be needed the most: "Anywhere in the back seven positions. Everyone will get a lot of reps. During the first week we rep everyone. Then after a about a week and a half we pare it down. They all get early looks, but most of the freshmen will still be redshirted unless there's a few special kids that will play for us this year. That will also help with recruiting, because they will know that everyone will get serious looks at the beginning of practice." On the changes in the program with the new coaching staff: "The guys seem receptive. They seem hungry after last year being at the bottom of the league. They are embarrassed and angry. I hope they use that anger to fuel themselves and prove themselves. They responded well during the offseason, but not to the level that we expect them to. I want them to be really mad because I am. They need to be more upset." On what players he is interested to see the most: "The first practice will tell me a lot. I know what the guys will have done if they struggle. We will have a conditioning test at the end of the first practice that they all should pass. If they pass it then there is no problem, but if they don't pass it, then there is a big problem." On selecting team captains: "We don't know who they will be yet. The captains will be earned or selected by game, and maybe we will have 21 captains since we have 21 seniors. Walk-ons have been captains for me in the past and the team always responds very well to that, whether the player gets teary-eyed when it's announced and the team gives him a standing ovation. I may pick two permanent captains and then pick two others each game. I haven't decided yet. I still need to explain the honor of being a captain to the kids." If he has hit the wall yet: "Greg Byrne won't let me hit the wall. Most of the time the first year is a grind and can wear you out. But since I was away from it, I missed it. The grind for me starts tomorrow. There won't be a Saturday off until the first week of February. I gave the guys some vacation time which was good for them. I want to do that during the season but that is too hard to do."
On senior receiver Dan Buckner: "This is his time. He is a very talented player, and I think he realizes that it is an opportunity for him. He hasn't had to do this in his career yet. It is time for him to grow up and mature and do everything on and off the field right. He will be key for us this year along with Terrence Miller and a lot of our other receivers." On scheduling non-conference games: "We already have nine games to play in conference each year, so our strength of schedule is already pretty tough. We want to have at least seven home games a year. We want to try to get two non-conference games at home each year with non-BCS conference teams. Then we want a home-and-home with another BCS conference team. I like the fact that we can be more flexible with our schedule and to have the ability to schedule who we want."