Notes and takeaways from the Arizona Wildcats’ media availability after practice Thursday morning as the team continues to prepare for the Dec. 27 Foster Farms Bowl against Purdue:
* Left tackle Layth Friekh and receiver Shawn Poindexter – a pair of senior starters – have been granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA. Friekh will have to sit out the first two games of the 2018 season. We’ll have more on what this means for Arizona later today.
* Friekh’s reaction to the news: "I’m not totally happy about the two-game suspension, but I’m happy to be here another year. It’s worth it to me to come back, better myself and be part of this team one more year."
* Poindexter’s reaction: "It means everything. I needed a year to grow and develop more as a player. This is only my third year playing at the collegiate level. I think it’s huge."
* Purdue faced Louisville dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 1. Does that film provide a template for how the Boilermakers will defend Khalil Tate? "I think you have to look at it,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “But it was so long ago. Also, what Louisville’s doing with him is not exactly the same as what we do with Khalil."
* One side effect of Friekh and Poindexter coming back next year is that Arizona will have to recalibrate its scholarship count. The 2018 class could be anywhere from 18-25 depending on a variety of factors.
* Rodriguez is still sticking with his prediction that 70 percent of recruits will sign during the new early period (Dec. 20-22). But he also concedes, "I could be wrong." We’ll have more on the early period and how if affects Arizona later in the week.
* Having a relatively stable coaching staff should help Arizona navigate the early signing period. "When there’s a lot of staff turnover, it probably affects recruiting more than anything else,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes they’ll pick a school for the school. But a lot of times they’ll get close to a particular coach or staff, and when that changes it causes some hesitation."
* Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith is not currently with the team while attending to a family matter. His father underwent surgery last week. Smith is expected to return Sunday.
* Rodriguez said he plans to hire an offensive line coach "by the bowl game." In the meantime, substitute coaches Glenn Parker and Kyle Quinn "have done a great job,” Rodriguez said. Senior guard Jacob Alsadek also is helping out. Alsadek is “like a student-coach,” Rodriguez said. If the new coach is hired before the bowl and comes from another school, he wouldn't know the system and likely wouldn’t coach in the game.
* Parker, currently a staff analyst, has not campaigned publicly for the job. But senior tackle Gerhard de Beer would support Parker’s promotion: "Glenn’s a 12-year NFL veteran,” de Beer said. “His knowledge about the game, just about the game in general ... his football IQ is incredible."
* De Beer has gone from football novice to college starter to all-star game participant (NFLPA Collegiate Bowl). If told five years ago that that would happen, what would Rodriguez have said? "Is it a discus competition? ... He’s gone above and beyond anything that we thought would happen."
* What would de Beer’s reaction have been? “I would have asked you, what is an all-star game?"
* Defensive tackle Luca Bruno, recovering from a concussion, is practicing in a green jersey (limited). He ran sprints after practice and is expected to play vs. Purdue.
* Redshirt junior Trevor Wood continues to practice at defensive end and could start there in the bowl game. He played tight end most of the season (and for most of his UA career).
* Rodriguez said three players have the flu and did not participate in practice. Additionally, the team has shifted more toward game-planning with the Foster Farms Bowl less than two weeks away.