The last time we chatted with Rich Rodriguez, the Arizona Wildcats coach was unhappy with his team—specifically the offense.
As you could guess, not a ton has changed in the last 48 hours. After taking Sunday off, the UA returned to practice Monday morning with a two-plus hour workout at Arizona Stadium.
Was it as bad as Saturday night? No. But it also wasn’t all that much better.
“It was a little bit better than Saturday,” Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of work to do. I think we are behind in some areas. That’s why you practice.”
The team will practice twice tomorrow, once at 8:30 a.m., and then again at 6 p.m.
I’ll also have a notebook in tomorrow’s Star that will cover a lot of ground. For now, here are some news and nuggets to come out of Monday’s practice.
• Don’t be surprised if you see running backs Ka’Deem Carey and Daniel Jenkins in the game at the same time at points this year. With the lack of depth at wide receiver, both guys could see time at wideout this year.
“Daniel Jenkins is a guy--Ka’Deem for that fact too—he’ll play wide receiver. We’ll split them out and move them around a little bit. We’re trying to get the best 11 on the field. With Daniel Jenkins and Ka’Deem, those are two of our best 11. We’re playing with them out wide and in tight,” Rodriguez said.
• The team practiced at Arizona Stadium again Monday morning and hasn’t practiced at Kindall/Sancet Stadium in more than a week. Crews continue to resod the field at the old baseball stadium. Rodriguez said this obviously wasn’t planned, but the grass at Kindall/Sancet didn’t recover from a “tough June” and wasn’t in good enough shape to practice there. He’s hopeful the team will be able to move back there starting tomorrow.
“The only thing we’re limited on is a little bit of space when we’re separating offense and defense,” Rodriguez said of practicing at Arizona Stadium.
• Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said B.J. Denker is playing better than he did at the start of camp, but still isn’t quite where he’d like him to be. “He showed some spots today of the guy I’ve seen before. He’s also shown some spots that drew some ire,” Smith said.
• Smith said he’s seen some good things from true freshman Anu Solomon, but that the Las Vegas product isn’t as accelerated as the coach would like him to be at this point of camp. The coach said he needs to keep getting Solomon more and more reps before even considering whether the UA will play him this season or use a red shirt.
Some quotes from Monday:
• Rodriguez on the offensive line: “Up front, we’re mixing and matching, trying to find the best five. That may be an ongoing process. That may be like quarterback. That may take up to the first couple of games to figure that out. We’re trying to get the best five and the best eight. I like to have a backup guard, center and tackle to get us to eight.”
• Rodriguez on freshmen running backs Zach Green and Pierre Cormier: “I like them both. Their world is spinning right now. You can see the smoke coming out of their ears. They both have some talent and they’re both good guys. It’s really, really important to them. They both have good futures here. Zach is the big guy and Pierre is the athletic guy.”
• Smith on QB Jesse Scroggins: “Jesse is still learning. He’s missed some time due to his concussion. He’s up and down. One day he’s OK, one day he has some mental lapses. He has to learn to be consistent both physically and mentally. He has the tools. He has to keep practicing and keep it coming.”
• Smith on Solomon: “He’s a freshman. It’s typical. I want him to be more accelerated. I want him to be farther along. That’s what I want. It’s a lot for him mentally. But at the same time he’s shown some good things. He’s also shown some freshman things as well. He’s shown some things that definitely we need to make sure we keep repping him and getting him work.”
• Former UCLA, Washington and Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel on Arizona’s Monday practice. Neuheisel was in town as part of the Pac-12 Networks tour through fall camps: “I loved it. This coaching staff coaches hard. They are aggressive. I love (Rodriguez’s) mantra of making them comfortable being uncomfortable and pushing, pushing, pushing. As long as he can continue to develop leaders on the team. It’s one thing for the coaching staff to do it; it’s another when the players start doing it for themselves. Certainly a lot got accomplished today.”