Aug. 10, 2012
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - Arizona's annual trip to Fort Huachuca is no vacation for the Wildcat football team, always proven during Day No. 2 on post when players and coaches are back hard at work for the third time in a 24-hour period.
Indeed, after Thursday's two-a-day, the Wildcats hit the Warrior/Sentinel practice fields by 8 a.m. this morning for their third practice over two days on this U.S. Army installation. Last night's two-hour workout featured full pads and an increased workload of game-like situations. Today, players donned shoulder pads and helmets and continued their rigorous daily routine of individual, group and team drills.
"Today was average - some good and some bad," head coach Rich Rodriguez said after practice. "The focus needs to be on execution, not one particular phase on offense or defense. We haven't installed anything new offensively in the last practices. We need to hone in on what we have."
Friday's session concluded with several periods of 11-on-11 work between the first, second and third team offensive and defensive units. One of the notable themes of camp has been the increased tempo in which the Wildcat offense runs its plays, and that was at the forefront of the defense's mindset going into team drills.
"They are trying to wear you down! You can't let them do that," defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich barked to the defense before the period.
The blue-clad defenders got off to a solid start, highlighted when senior Mark Watley intercepted a B.J. Denker pass on one of the first plays of the session. Denker later earned some revenge when he connected with receiver Tyler Slavin for a long touchdown pass on a fade route down the far sideline.
It was the type of give-and-take that had Rodriguez and his staff pleased with the development over the last few days. The staff is eagerly awaiting Saturday's events, which will include an approximately 100-play scrimmage - the team's first of camp - tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.
"We need a good, long scrimmage," Rodriguez said. "I'd like to get in about 100 plays, get a lot done with different situations and try to get everyone reps."
Players will enjoy an evening off from the practice field on Friday evening, though a top secret (at least to players) team-building workout was planned for somewhere on post Friday afternoon. On Saturday, the Wildcats will hold a light workout in the morning, before gearing up for the evening scrimmage at 5:30 p.m.
The Wildcats will wrap up their activities on post Sunday morning. Players will participate in the Leadership Reaction Courses, a series of challenges that test physical and mental toughness, along with leadership and decision making, before returning to Tucson Sunday afternoon.
Arizona football will open the 2012 season on September 1, facing Toledo at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Tickets are available at the McKale Center Ticket office, by visiting ArizonaWildcats.com or by calling 520-621-2287 or 1-800-452-CATS.