Aug. 4, 2008
Tucson, Ariz. - The Arizona football team took the practice field today at Tucson High School to officially kick off Fall Camp. The first day saw something for the first time in the Mike Stoops era and the first since at least 1983: music blaring from the speakers as players stretched and went through fundamentals. It was the coaching staff's attempt to help energize the players for a 6:15 a.m. start.
"It was kind of nice," Stoops said of the music mix. "We wanted to wake them up and get them moving. The kids seemed to like it."
"I like this schedule," Stoops added, referring to the early start. "I thought the kids had a hop in their step. We really practiced well."
During the first period, senior quarterback, Willie Tuitama, looked sharp throwing the ball and looked confident. Senior Mike Thomas ran sharp routes and caught everything thrown his way. During these drills, there was no rush defense. Tuitama completed ten out of ten passes to four different receivers.
The offense seemed out of sync at times during the seven-on-seven. Tuitama completed seven of eleven passes for 100 yards, two touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and David Roberts and threw an interception.
Sophomore Tyler Lyon, who is battling to back-up Tuitama, was consistent completing six of nine passes for 65 yards. The highlight from this series was Gronkowski's one-handed, spinning catch that was thrown behind him. Lyon was sacked as well for not getting rid of the ball in a timely manner.
During the seven of seven drills, Coach Stoops spent a considerable amount of time with the second team defense. This group of players will be battling the starters for playing time.
During the 11-on-11, Tuitama completed four of nine passes for 27 yards. Thomas and Roberts registered the four completions. Redshirt freshman, Bryson Beirne, also took snaps completing two out of three passes for 36 yards. Beirne handed the ball off twice and was tallied for two coverage sacks.
Next, the 11-on-11 saw the offense running the two minute offense. Of the three quarterbacks, Tuitama fared the best completing 12 of 21 passes for 75 yards. Lyon completed one of three passes and tried to complete a fourth down pass, but the ball was batted down at the line of scrimmage by sophomore Kaniela Tuipulota. Beirne struggled moving the ball in the two minute offense completing only one pass in five attempts.
The remaining practice was used for special teams with a focus on the punting unit.
The Wildcats will practice again tomorrow morning from 6:15 to 8:30 a.m. at Tucson High. Practice time and location are subject to change due to weather and/or field conditions.
NOTES: Practice was moved to Tucson High from Rincon Vista Complex due to poor field conditions ... During the 11-on-11 team period, the offense worked with the new 40 second pay clock that will be in effect this season. This coming season, the 40-second play clock will begin for a down on the official's signal ending the previous play. Prior to the rule change, a 25-second play clock started when the ball was marked ready for play by officials ... With punter Keenyn Crier sidelined early in camp, Kyle Day and Alex Zendejas look to fill the void. Each punted during the special teams segment to end practice .... Head coach Mike Stoops had high praise for freshman cornerback Robert Golden. After getting his first live look at the Fresno, Calif., native, Stoops said, "I thought he did great things. That's not really a surprise, but it seemed like he competed well." ... Stoops also was pleased with the performance of fellow cornerback Devin Ross, who is trying to fill in for departed corners Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot ... Stoops also had praise for freshman QB Matt Scott, saying that he has a "good arm and a good release." According to Stoops, the key to Scott's development during camp will be his decision-making ... Stoops stated that the staff will continue to closely watch the battles for a backup quarterback and backup running back. He said, "After the next two or three weeks, we should have a better understanding."