Aug. 3, 2001
TUCSON, Ariz. - John Mackovic hit the field for the first time in the regular season as the Arizona head coach and put his initial class of 26 freshmen through its first practice Friday.
The session, which lasted an hour and 45 minutes, was a good chance for the rookies to get rid of the first-time jitters and acclimate themselves to college football.
"We had a good first day as far as being able to get out and do what we needed to do," said Mackovic. "It has been a change in environment for the freshmen, and they are still nervous and a little anxious. Every player was out here trying to prove himself and do a good job."
Mackovic opened the practice with some special teams work then had the players working on the opposite side of the ball for the remainder of the first half of practice. Offensive players worked with the defensive coaches, while the defenders worked on offensive drills. After a short break, the freshmen focused on individual drills with their respective position coaches.
After serving as an ESPN college football analyst for the past three seasons, Mackovic seemed content with the group's effort and level of fitness, but cautioned that the pace would pick up when the veterans report on Monday.
"I was not really watching anyone in particular," Mackovic explained. "I was looking more at whether we were getting done what we needed to do. Everyone tried hard, and they were all trying to learn what we are doing. I would say that the players are in good high school shape, but they are in fair, at best, college shape. When the veterans get here on Monday, they will find that the pace is faster and quicker."
The first full-squad Wildcat practice is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 7. Arizona will open the 2001 season on Thursday, Aug. 30, at San Diego State. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PDT and will be televised on ESPN2.