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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 08/14/2008
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Aug. 14, 2008

GALLERY: Thursday Images

VIDEO: Coach Stoops' post-practice interviews

2008 FALL CAMP - A day of rest on Wednesday led to a rusty performance as the Arizona football team returned to the practice field for the first of two practices scheduled for Thursday.

 

"Our execution was not as good as it has been," head coach Mike Stoops told his players following practice. "We have got to get things straightened out for tonight's practice. We won't be good enough to win many games if we keep practicing like this."

 

It was a difficult morning of work for the offense which struggled to find a rhythm, although it was able to capitalize on some defense miscues on occasion. The most pressing concern for offensive coaches was the inability to convert on third down and short yardage situations.

 

"The plays are there for us to make," Stoops told his team. "But if we don't execute better, we won't make those plays. If we want to be the type of team we know we can be, we have to execute."

 

During the 7-on-7 passing period, quarterback Willie Tuitama completed 7-of-11 passes, but none of the pass completions went for more than nine yards as the Wildcat secondary blanketed the wide receivers down field. Freshman Matt Scott experienced more success against the second team unit on defense, completing 4-of-9 passes - all for more than 10 yards.

 

As the team commenced its 30 minute 11-on-11 action, Tuitama and the offense looked to build some early momentum. The senior signal caller completed three of his first five attempts, including a 10 yards pass to David Roberts and a 20 yard throw and catch to Rob Gronkowski.

 

With Scott at the controls, the defense ramped up the pressure. Linebacker Adrian McCovy got pressure on a blitz forcing a play to be blown dead early, and then D'Aundre Reed got his hand on the quarterback on the next play.

 

Later in the period, the offense shifted its focus to third and short situations. After a breakout running performance in a live scrimmage last Saturday, the Wildcats could not establish much of a running game. A quartet of running backs - Nic Grgsby, Xavier Smith, Nick Booth and Keola Antolin - got touches, but each had difficulty finding holes.

 

The highlight of the morning for the offense came late in the action. With Tuitama's first and second targets covered, he looked downfield and found Devin Veal running open behind the secondary. Veal hauled in a well-thrown 50-yard pass for a touchdown.

 

The Wildcats will return to the practice field this evening for its second practice of the day at 6 p.m.

 

NOTES AND QUOTES

 

-          Free safety Nate Ness returned to live action after missing four practices this week while recovering from a mild concussion suffered last Saturday. Ness hauled in an interception of a Matt Scott pass during the team period, but the play would have been called back in a game due to a defensive offside penalty.

-          Jason Bondzio continues to show consistent accuracy and leg strength. The senior place kicker connected on all five of his field goal attempts (32, 34, 37, 39 and 42 yards) during the PAT/FG period at the start of practice.

-          Coaches held the offensive players after practice longer than usual for a post-practice meeting. It was a valuable teaching period as the coaches emphasized the importance of maintaining focus and executing the basics of the system.

 

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