April 1, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona football team returned to the field Tuesday afternoon for a spirited practice session. Head coach John Mackovic and the Wildcat assistant coaches put the players through the paces, as the Wildcats worked out for the first day in full pads.
"It was the first day of pads, and we had lots and lots of good work together," Mackovic said. "The lines put in a full day's work. The offensive and defensive lines get to battle each other for a month during the spring, so that is the most important part of the whole year in developing the offensive and defensive lines."
For the third day of drills, the Wildcats continued to work in several full-line and seven-on-seven passing and rushing sessions for much of the afternoon. The team closed the session with tempo running and conditioning.
"Our conditioning has to be better than it has ever been on the offensive line, and we have to run better than we have ever done before on defense," Mackovic added.
On the offensive side of the ball, Mackovic cited senior wide receiver Andrae Thurman as one of the team's emerging leaders.
"Andrae Thurman is providing the kind of leadership that we really need him to provide. He is positive, he works hard, and he is setting a good example in everything he does. I think he can make every catch, and we expect him to make every play that we ask him to make," Mackovic said.
As the defensive coaching staff continues to install a new defensive scheme, Mackovic is pleased to see progress being made on that side of the ball, as well.
"The defensive coaches are not giving the players any slack," Mackovic said. "The players better get it because we expect them to learn it from the beginning. The coaches demand a certain commitment and focus from them every day."
In other UA football news, Mackovic announced that senior defensive end Javier Martinez and junior linebacker/long snapper Ben DalMolin have left the team. Martinez, a native of Pico Rivera, Calif., moved from tight end to defensive end at the beginning of fall training camp in 2002. In addition to working out at linebacker for the last few years, DalMolin also had earned a position as a long snapper.
"Javier (Martinez) has left school and returned home to deal with some family problems," Mackovic said.
"We didn't feel that we could put Ben (DalMolin) on scholarship this year even though he has been our long snapper for a couple of years. Ben felt he would rather move on if he didn't have a scholarship," Mackovic added.
The Wildcats return to the practice field on Thursday, April 3, at 6:30 p.m., when they will practice in full pads once again at that time. Arizona is scheduled to hold five practices before the team takes to Arizona Stadium for the annual Spring Game on April 12, at 1 p.m.
Arizona is allowed 15 spring practices under NCAA guidelines and will conclude sessions with the team's final practice on Thursday, April 24. All spring practices are open to the public. Most are scheduled on the practice facility at North Campbell Avenue and Enke Drive, across from McKale Center, but the Spring Game and some other sessions will be held in Arizona Stadium.