TUCSON -?The University of Arizona football team wrapped up two-a-day practices by holding only one practice on Wednesday, as the Wildcat coaching staff decided to give the players a well-deserved evening off. The schedule change leaves the Wildcats with a pair of weekday evening sessions leading into Meet the Team night and the final camp scrimmage Saturday night.
UA's new offense -- the multiple spread -- was installed during spring ball and head coach Mike Stoops and offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes fine tuned some aspects and added a bit more as personnel established a solid pecking order during fall camp. A lingering question about junior quarterback Willie Tuitama's focus has been quashed. He missed a handful of 2006 games due to concussive symptoms but has clearly been a clear-headed and determined leader in camp.
The new offensive system has proved successful for the most part through camp, even causing some frustration at times for some of the veteran Wildcats on the defensive side of the ball, as experienced as the unit is.
ˇ?We know you can throw the hitch or that sideline pass,ˇ± senior linebacker Spencer Larsen frustratingly hollered over to Dykes after a five yard completion to Terrell Reese.
ˇ?Five yards every time,ˇ± Dykes quipped back. ˇ?Weˇ?ll take five yards every time; thatˇ?s why we run it.ˇ±
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops honed his 10 returning starters unit and worked to solidify better depth across the board than the Cats have had on that side of the ball in the elder Stoops' tenure.
Both the offensive and defensive coaching staffs have also been able to draw from a full cupboard of talent on a daily basis, as players have stayed relatively healthy to this point in camp, allowing for more competition and cohesiveness.
Because of the success of camp to date and the tireless hours of work the players have put in on the field and in the film room, the coaches hope the team can use this evening to bond away from the field, something that is difficult to do with a grueling daily football schedule, not to mention the upcoming academic year.
Rested and relaxed, the Wildcats will return to the practice field tomorrow night for a 5:30 p.m. workout at the Rincon Vista Complex. As always, time and location is subject to change due to weather and/or field conditions.
The Wildcats hit the practice fields bright and early on Wednesday morning, holding the first of an originally scheduled two practices. The players again worked through their daily drills, including individual, group, special teams, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 segments as players wore only shells.
After another impressive outing on Tuesday night in an open scrimmage, the offense looked to continue its high-powered ways in 7-on-7 action. Willie Tuitama remained efficient, completing 9-of-11 pass attempts in the session, which included consecutive plays of 12 yards to B.J. Dennard and 10 yards to Chris Jennings.
Kris Heavner had some early success, completing two of his first three attempts, including a 27-yard throw and catch to Mike Turner. However, his fourth attempt, which was intended for Mike Thomas, was intercepted by Trevin Wade. Even so, Heavner finished the drill 5-of-8 passing.
Tyler Lyon also saw action in 7-on-7s, and completed a 15-yard pass to Anthony Johnson, bumping up his numbers to 3-of-5 for the segment.
During 11-on-11 team action, the two sides worked on blitz packages. Tuitama completed 9-of-16 throwing attempts, but the defense held its own for the most part. Yaniv Barnett, Nate Ness, and Mike Klyce all broke up passes, but Tuitama was also able to draw the defense offsides on two occasions, including one where Wade picked off a Tuitama pass after the junior quarterback tried to pick up some cheap yardage on the free play.
Heavner also saw extended action, throwing only one incompletion, which actually came on his first attempt. He finished 9-of-10 passing, including completions of 33 yards to Johnson and 19 yards to Dennard.?
-?Head coach Mike Stoops, his coaching staff and the players all took the day off from addressing the media.
|?Medicine (ball) for Kickers Jason Bondzio (13) and Keenyn Crier|
|?Freshman OG Conan Amituanai with junior HB Brandon Lopez|
|?Senior LB Dane Krogstad in a kicking-unit stance technique drill|
|?Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops and receiver B.J. Dennard|
|?Kris Heavner hands off to soph RB Xavier Smith|
|?ST coordinator Joe Robinson mikes up for full-field audibiity|
|?DE Johnathan Turner and OT Peter Graniello|
|?Senior LB Spencer Larsen watches a?drill|
|?Linebackers Xavier Kelley (15) and Adrian McCovy|
|?Linebacker Cole Graybill meets Mr. X -- Xavier Smith|