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20070809 Cats Turn In Two Solid Practices
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 08/09/2007
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TUCSON ?C The University of Arizona football team held two practices on Thursday at the Rincon Vista complex, both much crisper and more efficient than Wednesday nightˇ?s session. While players strapped on full pads for the morning session, they wore only shells for evening workout.

PM Practice Recap:

Rather pleasant conditions welcomed the Wildcats back to the practice field on Thursday evening, capping a very solid day of work. Much of the evening workout was devoted to fundamental work, with less emphasis on the physical demands of the game. The players seemed fresh and productive, despite completing two practices in a 12-hour period.

After working through daily drills, including individual, group, ˇ?middleˇ± and special teams segments, the offensive and defensive teams came together for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team drills.

Willie Tuitama was allowed to rest, observe and instruct during the 7-on-7 passing segment, as Tyler Lyon and Kris Heavner took all the snaps. Lyon struggled a bit with his accuracy, completing 4-of-8 attempts, with several over thrown balls. Heavner, on the other hand, was able to find some rhythm and stretch the field a bit at times.

Heavner got things going with a nicely thrown touch pass over the linebackers to Travis Bell for 15 yards. On the next play, he found Terrell Reese open for another 15-yard chain-mover.

After a swing pass to Glyndon Bolasky for a six yard gain, Heavner found a favorite target in David Roberts. Four of his next five passes went to the freshman wide receiver, all for completions. The first three to Roberts went for gains of three, five and six yards. Those seemed to merely set the defense up for the fourth, which was a 27-yard throw and catch on a fade route.

Heavner mixed things up on the next snap, going towards Aaron Anderson for a pickup of 19 yards. In all, Heavner completed 10-of-13 attempts in 7-on-7 action.

Heavner remained at quarterback for the start of 11-on-11 team drills, but did not have nearly as much immediate success. After an incompletion and a couple short completions, Jason Parker fought his way into the backfield and force Heavner out of the pocket, where he threw the ball into the ground. After a pair of incompletions, however, Heavner was able to connect with Rod Rivera for a nice 30-yard gain.

It was then time for Willie Tuitama to see his first live action of the evening, but it was a true freshman running back that sparked the offense. Nicholas Grigsby made a nice read on a running play, before bursting into the open field for a big gain. Two plays later, Tuitama found Grigsby up the right sideline for 45 yards. Coming out of the backfield, Grigsby was picked up by linebacker Spencer Larsen, who had decent position, but couldnˇ?t keep in stride to defend the pass.

To close practice, the team worked through a two-minute offense/defense segment. The defense dominated the five plays, as Dominic Patrick picked off a Tuitama pass to end the first drive, then Louis Holmes recorded a pair of sacks on the second drive, which marked the end of practice.

QUOTES:

Before responding to questions from the media, Coach Mike Stoops asked reporters,

ˇ?What is this? I have to give my daily critique?ˇ± Here are a few short quotes from Stoopsˇ? Thursday evening ˇ?critiqueˇ±:

ˇ?I thought the kids did a good job (during the first two-a-day). Weˇ?ve had nine really productive practices. The kids are staying healthy.ˇ±

On Willie Tuitamaˇ?s progress in the spread offense that offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes brought from Texas Tech:

ˇ?Willie is much improved. Heˇ?s made tremendous progress from the spring and over the summer. Heˇ?s got a lot more confidence in what heˇ?s doing. The big thing for him is to not force the football. Youˇ?ve got to take what the defense gives you.ˇ±

Tight end Rob Gronkowski on how he feels about the tight endˇ?s role in the offense:

ˇ?Iˇ?m definitely pretty happy. They are using us a lot.ˇ±

Quarterback Willie Tuitama on his progress in the wide-open offensive system:
ˇ?It was a whole lot of work over the summer and improving on things from the spring. Iˇ?m just trying to get better. Everyone is getting better as we get more repitions.ˇ±


AM Practice Recap:

After the warmest practice of camp to date last evening, Thursday morning was not much of a relief. Sunny and clear skies put temperatures into the 80s by the start of practice and near 90 degrees by the time practice ended shortly before 10 a.m. Even so, players were in good spirits for the start of their first two-a-day.

After working through daily drills, including individual, group, ˇ?middleˇ± and special teams segments, the offensive and defensive teams came together for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team drills.

The defense started out sharply in the skeleton passing session, holding Willie Tuitama to only a handful of short completions in his first eight attempts to go along with one pass that was broken up by Antoine Cason. But on the ninth play, Tuitama was able to connect on a big 35-yard completion after David Roberts made a diving catch along the left sideline.

The offense was held in check for the most part after that until Kris Heavner was able to find Terrell Reese open for 12 yards, and later Anthony Johnson for 20 yards, and later connect with Roberts for 10 yards.

As team drills commenced, the defense asserted itself early. Lionel Dotson showed his power and strength as he blew through the offensive line to ˇ?sackˇ± Tuitama, as the play was blown dead.

After a short completion and an incompletion, Xavier Smith was able to find some running room behind an Earl Mitchell block for a solid five yards before first contact. That led to a five yard completion to Rob Gronkowski, after the defense was drawn offside on the snap. On the next play, Tuitama found class Mike Thomas open for a 15-yard throw and catch.

The defense would grab the momentum back thanks to some good pressure from its second team line working against the second team offensive line. On a play action call, Ricky Elmore pushed his way into the backfield, coming free for what would have been a sack of Tuitama. On the next play, Dˇ?Aundre Reed and Josh Lewis teamed up for what was another potential sack.

Later in the drill, Tuitama and the offense were able to find a little more rhythm in the passing game. He delivered a nicely thrown pop pass over the linebackers to Rob Gronkowski for 20 yards. Several plays later, he connected with Johnson for 20 more yards.

After a pair of Xavier Smith rushes, it was time for the homerun ball. As Tuitama scanned the field, Thomas was running free down the left sideline with a step and a half on cornerback Devin Ross. Tuitama put plenty of air under the ball, and fifty five yards later Thomas hauled the pass in for what would have likely gone for a touchdown.

To end the morning workout, the two sides worked on goal line plays from inside the five yardline. On the first play, a host of defenders wrapped up Chris Jennings for little or no gain. The offense went to the air on the second play, but nothing opened up. On the third play, the offense tried Jennings again, but he was stuffed at the line by Yaniv Barnett. On the fourth and final play, the defense wasnˇ?t fooled on the play action, drawing a whistle to blow the play dead.

NOTES:

-?The morning practice began just before 7:45 a.m. As usual, most players and coaches arrived earlier for pre-practice drills.
-?Head Coach Mike Stoops and the players took the morning off from addressing the media.
-?Willie Tuitama completed 10-of-12 passes in 7-on-7 action, although most were on check downs for short gains. With no live tackling, it is impossible to determine how far some of the shorter dump-off and check down passes could go.
-?Heavner completed 6-of-7 attempts in 7-on7s, including passes of 12 yards to Terrell Reese, 20 yards to Anthony Johnson and 10 yards to David Roberts. His lone incompletion was broken up by Dane Krogstad.
-?Tyler Lyon completed 2-of-3 attempts in 7-on7s.
-?11-on-11 passing numbers: Tuitama (10-of-12), Heavner (2-5)
-?Running back Xavier Smith was able to find some running room on his handful of carries during 11-on-11 action, showing a nifty move as he escaped a defender in the backfield one rush, which he broke for six yards before first contact.

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