April 4, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team returned to the gridiron Friday afternoon for its fifth spring practice session. The Wildcats, who had five practices in seven days to open the spring training camp schedule, paid considerable attention to full-line work and special teams during the two-hour period.
The Wildcats worked in several full-line and seven-on-seven passing and rushing sessions for much of the afternoon. Both the offensive and defensive units continued to install new plays into the team's respective schemes.
The players worked out in shorts and shoulder pads Friday, but they will be in full pads for the third time on Saturday, April 5 for the team's first scrimmage, which is set to begin at 9:45 a.m., in Arizona Stadium.
"Tomorrow will be a good day for us to see exactly where we are at this point," said head coach John Mackovic. "The defense is going to test the offense up front quite a bit, and it will be interesting to see how the whole team, especially the defense, can come together and used what they have learned during the first week."
In Saturday's scrimmage, quarterbacks Nic Costa and Ryan O'Hara will split most of the duty under center. In addition to the team's focus on the passing game, Arizona also will put in a great deal of work on the running game.
"Nic (Costa) and Ryan (O'Hara) will get the lion's share of the work," Mackovic said. "We are going to give them as many opportunities to throw, but we also have to get plenty of work done on the run game. We are going to have a pretty good balance. It also will be good because the defense needs to practice against the run, as well."
With a new defense in place, Mackovic is pleased to see the progress that is being made on the defensive side of the ball.
"I think our defense can come at the opposing offenses in more ways than it used to," Mackovic said following Thursday's practice. "We didn't have the versatility to come from different places last year, so I like this style even better, and I already like what I see."
Arizona is scheduled to hold three practices before the team takes to Arizona Stadium for the annual Spring Game on April 12, at 1 p.m.
UA 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.