Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Head Coach Rich Rodriguez
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Rich Rodriguez Previews Spring Practice
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 26, 2014

On what he’s most looking forward to:

“Well really there’s two main phases. Evaluate, not just the guys that are returning, but the new guys because we have several new guys here. We want to see who is going to be ready to help us in the fall. The other is developing and teaching some techniques. Half the time, I cross my fingers and hope to keep guys from getting hurt, but you have to teach some blocking and some tackling just so the young guys get the fundamentals down.”

On the number of guys recovering this year compared to last year:

“We don’t have as many. This year we are healthier. Of course, we had some minor injuries, some guys that had surgeries that will be out in the spring, but we will have a few more bodies and will be able to get a little more production with them.”

On the quarterbacks being able to win or lose the job in the spring:

“They can develop a pecking order from spring but then it will start all over again in August. We won’t have a starter after spring and I’m not really concerned with that.”

On the uncertainty of not having a quarterback determined:

“It’s a little bit scary but we went through this last year. I think the talent is there and I think Coach (Rod) Smith and I will have to sort out getting them all reps. I think there will be seven this spring and nine in the fall camp so it will be fun to watch the guys compete.”

On his patience level in the spring:

“I have a lot more than in the fall. In the fall, I get wired pretty easily just because we have to get ready for a game. In the spring, there’s no threat of losing the spring game. If we lose that it will be a long season. To me, spring is a little bit more fun for the coaches and players because there’s more competition and you don’t have to worry about getting ready for a game. I do want our guys to have a sense of urgency to prove themselves. We have a lot of new guys and returning guys that have a lot to prove and I hope they feel that way.”

On trying to be more competitive:

“Our goal every year is to be more competitive. The guys that were redshirted last year, the guys that we have brought in, and the guys that will be coming here in the fall, we have to create competition. We had some but not nearly the level that you are supposed to have and need to have. Even though we will have more this fall, a lot of the competition is going to be young. In a year or two, we will have competition from every level.”

On losing one of the best running backs in college football:

“Ka’Deem (Carey)was a guy that understood our offense pretty well for being here just two years and we got a lot of production out of him. We also had Daniel Jenkins and we knew we were going to get production from him. Now it’s a mystery. That’s going to be one of the positions, like quarterback, that will be kind of open to see if we can get guys to get better.”

On Ka’Deem’s combine times:

“I didn’t get a chance to watch him but some of my guys did. He ran about what I thought he would run and his best thing is just to turn on the film and watch him play. He may not wow you with his numbers or drill work but when you turn on the film, there is no one better.”

On Austin Hill:

“Austin is good. He is still wearing the knee brace but I think it is a little bit more precautionary. He is 100% doing everything. He’s even a bit bigger and stronger so he should have a big spring. I know he’s hungry to get out there, too.”

On the leaders of the team:

“It always starts with the senior class. It’s not a big senior class. There are some natural leaders in there. I mentioned Austin Hill, Jared Tevis has been around, Jonathan McKnight has been around, Tra’mayne Bondurant has been around, and from the offensive line Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele have been around seems like forever. So we have some guys with natural leadership ability. As the spring goes on and I get a chance to meet with them before the summer, that is when the leadership will really take hold.”

On who he is looking forward to seeing production from out of the mid-year guys:

“Really all of them, especially the transfer guys. You know the high school guys will take a little bit longer but the junior college guys are going to get thrown right in the mix. Their heads will be spinning especially the first couple of practices with the tempo of how we like to do things. I’m anxious to see all of them. Even if they don’t hit very much I think you can still tell if a guy is going to help you.”

On the nose guard situation:

“I’m not really sure who is going to be there. I think we are going to try and find more than one guy. Tevin (Hood) was really solid there. Dwight Melvin has some experience and Luca Bruno has passed his freshman year now. I think we will be a bit deeper there. We are not a big experimental team in the spring.”

On the receiver and safety position depth compared to the last few years:

“Compared to the first year at safety and at linebacker we have a lot more bodies. At receiver, this may be the deepest receiving crew I have ever coached.”

On looking at guys playing both ways:

“Maybe not so much during the spring but we will look at a few guys. I have talked about DaVonte’ Neal playing some cornerback. We have some guys in the freshman class like Cam Denson that may play some receiver and some corner, too.”

On the pace of play rule:

“We keep looking at it. Every time I get an opportunity to say something about how ridiculous the proposal is I say it. There has been more and more information coming out that the pace of play is not an issue of players’ safety. I am hoping everybody on the committee will make a more informed decision than the rules committee made. I think the rules committee made a poorly informed decision. I don’t think there is any way that it can pass or that it should pass. I think it is ridiculous that it even got this far.”

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