TUCSON--Coach Mike Stoops was upbeat in a mid-day news conference and equally enthused following the Wildcats' initial preparations for the 2007 with the start of spring practice Wednesday.
"I'm really pleased with our intensity and the way we came out ready to work," Stoops said after the late afternoon practice session in shorts. "There are a lot of things to clean up, and obviously the defense is way in front of the offense. I like the way our kids are going about it. We're a lot quicker, a lot stronger and a lot faster," he said.
The Wildcat defense, which rated fourth in the Pac-10 a year ago and led the league in turnover margin, returns 10 starters and tested the Cats' new spread offense -- to the limit, according to Stoops. "This defense will really test this offense."
New coordinator Sonny Dykes, who mentors the quarterbacks, agreed. "We knew it would be rough he first day. But I saw a lot of good things. We were a little sloppy at times. The kids did a really good job of coming in ahead of time, voluntarily, to learn what we're doing, and that helped. I thought our quarterbacks were good (on tape). They're better than I thought," he said.
Stoops said afterward that he felt the new offense "fits our personnel really well.That's (going to be advantageous)."
Junior quarterback Willie Tuitama said the practice field was "a lot different than the play book" in study he's done over the past several months. "You get out here with an offensive and defensive line, and it's way different than study. The tempo is a lot faster."
"We really need him for this offense, and he can help with the leadership we're going to need on the unit," Dykes said. "All the quarterbacks did okay today. We tried to limit the terminology and keep it simple, to encourage our guys to go out and play fast," Dykes said.