FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – The University of Arizona football team held its first practice on post to kick off the annual trip to this U.S. Army installation Thursday morning at the Warrior/Sentinel Fields.
Donning helmets and shorts, the Wildcats spent a little more than two hours working through their basic individual, group and team drills. Keeping a close eye on the action were soldiers and community members who look forward to the visit each season.
Below are some post-practice comments from Head Coach Rich Rodriguez and senior linebacker Marquis Flowers.
Head Coach Rich Rodriguez
How was today’s practice at Fort Huachuca?
Well we needed a warm day. We hadn’t had a warm practice since we started. It’s not hot, but it’s warm and we just went in shorts. I thought they were ready to practice and it was okay for being in shorts.
What do you like about coming down here?
The biggest thing I like is that it gives us a true camp atmosphere, particularly being around the military guys and getting a feel for how they do business. I think every football player needs to go through a camp type experience. That’s what this gives us.
What is the itinerary like away from the football field?
Pretty much the same thing we would do on campus – a lot of meetings. We meet an awful lot and try to get some assignments down. Then we take a little bit of the evening time to get to know each other. We’ll take 30 minutes tonight and have some random groups and talk about things outside of football and get to know about each other’s personal lives.
Do they get a chance to talk to the soldiers out here?
They do. We have a dinner tonight where some of the coaches and I will be with the brass. I really enjoy that to hear some of their stories. And then our players will be meeting with a lot of troops and eating dinner with them. They enjoy that. Really, if you look at it, they are about the same age. It’s a pretty good interaction there.
On daily coaches’ awards given to players:
We give out a player of the day every day. We keep score. I think kids are competitive by nature and I know these kids are. So we keep scoring throughout the entire practice, offense against defense. And then we also want to give out a player of the day. We give them a protein bar, which is really insignificant but they like getting points and helping their unit out. We’ve had a different guy every day, which is a good thing.
Senior Linebacker Marquis Flowers
What do you like about coming to Fort Huachuca?
It’s good to come down here to get away from the clutter and play football for the troops. To hear their stories and hear what they go through is amazing.
What do you like about seeing the troops around practice?
The stuff they go through on an everyday basis. It makes me realize how lucky and blessed I am to play this game, and how thankful I am for people who want to volunteer and do this. Every dinner we sit by troops and ask them questions. I think I ask more questions than they ask me.
Is there anything different about practices down here?
I don’t think there is anything different, but we want to be more intense. Schools just ended yesterday, so there is nothing to think about but football. We’re around our brothers all the time and we can’t wait to get on the field. As a defense, we can’t wait so we have to bring intensity every day. We’re trying to improve and get better.
What are the practices like?
There is a lot of competition out here. The young guys are great. All the recruits they brought in are really great guys. We’re out here competing and it’s making us better. We look way better than we did last year. We’re looking good.
The Wildcats will take the rest of Thursday off from practice, but will spend time in team meetings, film sessions and other team activities. Among the focus will be an evening dinner spent with the soldiers.
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