Aug. 21, 2001
TUCSON - Arizona football coach John Mackovic and staff will run the team through a situational scrimmage Tuesday night as pre-season preparations for the season opener at San Diego State Aug. 30 come to a head.
The scrimmage is closed to the public as the Cats pull within nine days of the game in Qualcomm Stadium against the Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference. All of UA's practices this year are now closed except to players' family and the media.
"We'll do some full-tempo work and focus again on (sideline) organizational details like substitutions, sudden change and down-and-distance situations," Mackovic said. "I like to hold a final scrimmage about nine days before the opener. We'll practice again Wednesday and Thursday, go early Friday afternoon, then give the players some time off Saturday before a Sunday practice which will be like a Tuesday workout," since the Cats' first game is next Thursday night in an ESPN2 cablecast.
The staff is nearing finalization of its two-deep chart for each position and the additional special teams players who will make up a travel roster of 70 players. UA can take more than the Pac-10 games limit of 60 players to San Diego because it's a non-conference game.
One player making the trip who will not play is graduate defensive end Eli Wnek, sidelined with a right foot injury. Wnek, in a cast, using crutches and expected to miss at least a month, nonetheless has been in uniform each day of practice participating in as many individual conditioning and technique drills as possible.
Wnek is among the favorites of UA media who cover the team for one of the club's 2001 team captains, which Mackovic says are elected after the season. "We'll select game captains throughout the year. It's unreasonable to say a player will assume leadership of a team at the beginning of a season."
Arizona is at its preseason limit of 105 players, but will hold some non-scholarship tryouts in the ensuing weeks and can reach a roster level of 112 if desired.
Two players who participated in spring ball, kicker Chris Gray and defensive back Lee Patterson, rejoined the team Monday and Mackovic said others could likely be invited to participate. "You may never find a starter (from open tryouts), but guys like to be part of the team," he said.
Other than Wnek, Arizona is in good physical shape and could have its full complement of players available for the opening trip. Some players have missed time in practice with various bumps and bruises and their status will likely be known by the end of the weekend.
Mackovic will issue a pro-style injury report early each week and close to game day, such as listing players as "probable," "questionable," "doubtful" and "out." "This information will not be kept a secret and we'll issue reports in a forthright fashion," Mackovic said.