TUCSON, Ariz. – Head coach Rich Rodriguez and the University of Arizona football program continued spring practice on Wednesday at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium. The 2014 Cats worked out in shells and shorts for two hours. Below is a transcript of Rodriguez’s comments following practice.
On the dismissal of the proposed 10-second rule:
“It was expected. I thought it would have gone to a vote tomorrow and that they would have voted it down. But pulling out I think the committee did a wise thing and realized that it wasn’t something that, at this point, needs to move forward. It’s good. We’ll see where it goes from this point. I think there was enough outcry and enough facts that they thought it wasn’t a good time to implement that rule.”
“I give the committee some credit. As disappointed as I was that it got to that point, I’m pleased that they realized it was a mistake and that it should have never got to that point. Rules committee is a bunch of coaches. Coaches, I think, know what’s best for the game.”
On if he talked to any coaches that liked the proposed rule:
“I heard some of the explanations and reasons. I didn’t buy any of it regarding player safety or any of that. I’ve been doing the same offense for 27 years and we think it’s healthier for our players and not the other way around.”
On if he is going to get the snap off every ten seconds:
“That’s our goal. Play faster, right? That’s what it says in the video. We are practicing faster. Just judging by our practices two springs ago, we are practicing so much faster now. That should be expected because kids are starting to grow in our program and understand how we work.”
On former players that remind him of DaVonte’ Neal:
“It started with a guy named Chris Jordan at Glenville State who caught 120 balls in a year. At West Virginia, there were a couple of slot receivers. There’s a guy in particular named Darius Reynaud who is still playing in the NFL that had a lot of the same skill sets. He can run the ball. He can be a running back, a great returner, just the feel to get open. DaVonte’ still has a lot to learn. I don’t want to put the expectations too high but one thing about him is that he loves to play. He has an infectious enthusiasm when he comes out here to work and I think that’s rubbing off on a lot of guys.”
On where he sees T.J. Johnson playing:
“He’s like DaVonte’ (Neal). He’s a guy that played both, a running back and returner, at slot receiver. I’ve been thoroughly impressed. We’ve just been in shorts two days. He’s the fastest guy on the team by far. He shows quick learning, too, because he’s learning pretty well. He’s going to have an opportunity to play a lot for us this year.”
On Derrick Turituri:
“He still will play defense. More for us in special packages and pass rush situations. He’s big and strong enough to do that. Right now we’re just doing our base defense so he’s at linebacker. But not just him, there are probably some other guys that will hybrid linebacker-defensive end guys. (Keoni) Bush-Loo is another one of them that can probably do the same thing.”
On his first impressions of Jeff Worthy and the defensive line:
“It’s early. I don’t really pay much attention to that part until we get to pads. When you get guys, particularly defensively and those guys that play in the front seven, in pads you’re able to see them get off the block and tackle a guy. That’s one thing I get nervous about when we go pads because I don’t want anyone to get hurt. At the same time, we have to do a lot of teaching and evaluating, particularly guys like Worthy, (Antonio) Smothers and all the new guys that game in. These next few practices in pads will be important to them.”
On if he sees NFL potential in players returning for Pro Day:
“Sure, there’s Shaquille (Richardson), Marquis (Flowers) and Terrence Miller. We have a good group of seniors. Whether they test well or not tomorrow, I’m hoping they do. Some of them have been training here and some have been on their own. I do think that when they watch their film, they’ll see they’re pretty good players. On Ka’Deem, I’ve said this before but he may not have the best 40 but he’s fast enough. When you turn on the film, I don’t think there’s another better running back in the country.”
“Shaq is a big corner. He told me today he weighs 196 pounds. He feels good. He’s going to run well. He has a lot of experience so I think he has a shot. I told those guys I don’t want them to get all tight with pro day coming up. It’s a chance to evaluate them, sit down and talk with them and all that. They’re going to do most evaluation from film.”
On the running backs:
“They’re doing okay. It’s early. We haven’t seen them as far as protection and running through tackles or anything like that. They have a pretty good grasp. We’re not slowing down. Again, it’s just the way we do things. Normally some people will go early so they teach. We think it’s better off to learn at our pace. Their heads will swim the first week or two but I’ve been impressed so far that there haven’t been too many missed assignments.”
On the schedule changes to mid-week games:
“I want to have a Pac-12 Thursday night game. I’ve been complaining about that for three years. I guess they’re considering our ASU Friday night game as a mid-week game but I would like for us to play a Thursday mid-week Pac-12 conference game at home at Arizona Stadium. I think the place would be packed with a great atmosphere. We had a chance to move the early games earlier and we had a great crowd for NAU on a Friday night. I think we will have a great crowd in our opener against UNLV. Also the exposure that we will get from national television, that is all good. When I told the team, they were pretty excited about that, too.”
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