UA football: Impressions from opening day of practice

2014-08-02T22:15:00Z 2014-08-03T11:15:56Z UA football: Impressions from opening day of practiceDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Obviously, the Tra'Mayne Bondurant news stole the show tonight after the UA's first practice of the season. You can catch up on that here

But there was plenty of other action Saturday night. 

A few observations from practice:

• All the quarterbacks, including freshman Brandon Dawkins, saw plenty of reps. Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon seemed to get the most work with the first-team. Jerrard Randall, Jesse Scroggins and Connor Brewer also got plenty of work in. 

There were a few good moments including a Randall bullet to T.J. Johnson and a couple of sharp passes from Solomon. But overall, Rich Rodriguez is hoping there's plenty of improvement from all competitors in the next few weeks. 

"I wasn't happy with how we started out camp last year at quarterback, and I think we're a little farther along this year," Rodriguez said. "I know this, B.J. Denker worked his tail off to get better through August camp and I think these guys will do the same thing. 

"I think the talent is there at quarterback. Now it's a matter of them just being more consistent." 

• Rodriguez did restart a tradition with his quarterbacks tonight that they could probably do without. If a quarterback overthrew a receiver, the QB had to run down and get his own ball. It happened more than the coach would have liked Saturday. 

"That seemed like a thing that was happening today, so they'll probably be chasing the overthrows for the next couple of weeks," the coach said. 

I asked him if the overthrows came from the quarterbacks trying to do too much on the first day. He didn't think so: "No, I think it's just being stupid. If they've been throwing together all summer, that shouldn't happen."

• At running back, senior Terris Jones-Grigsby got the most work with the first-team and seems to be in the lead there. Jared Baker, who appears to be fully healthy after tearing his ACL last year, got second-team reps. Baker, a speedster, appeared to put on some weight to his frame. Nick Wilson got some reps, but it was easy to tell the coaches are easing him in.

• There weren't any surprises at wide receiver or on the offensive line. Jacob Alsadek still seems to be in the lead at right guard, ahead of Lene Maiava. Austin Hill, Samajie Grant, Nate Phillips, DaVonte Neal, Trey Griffey, David Richards and Cayleb Jones all got their reps in. Jones almost hauled in a heck of a catch on a deep ball, but it was broken up at the last second by freshman Kwesi Mashack. 

• Here's what the starting 11 on defense looked like tonight. I expect it to change quite a bit over the next few weeks and wouldn't read too much into it: Line: Reggie Gilbert, Jeff Worthy and Dan Pettinato. Linebackers: DeAndre Miller, Scooby Wright and Keoni Bush-Loo. Cornerbacks: Jonathan McKnight and Devin Holiday. Safeties: Will Parks, Jared Tevis and Jourdon Grandon. 

• Wright was working on the inside, and looks like he'll take over for Jake Fischer there after playing on the outside last season. Jake Matthews, Hank Hobson and Derrick Turituri were the second-team linebackers. Jamardre Cobb worked with Cam Denson and other freshmen in a fourth grouping. 

• In case you missed it in our notebook, Marquis Ware will likely be out all of camp with a shoulder injury. He suffered it in high school and didn't do the rehab he needed to before coming. Rodriguez made it sound like there was a chance he could still play his true freshman season. 

• With Bondurant out, Will Parks will likely shift into that starting safety spot. Arizona coaches were eager to find a way to get him on the field. This certainly isn't the ideal situation, but Parks helps the loss of Bondurant not be so drastic. 

• Mashack was a freshman who stood out to me tonight. He didn't dominate and still has plenty to learn, but it was easy to tell he has good football instincts and can take coaching. Arizona is obviously very thin at cornerback, so don't be shocked if Mashack plays as a true freshman like Holiday had to last year. 

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About this blog

Daniel Berk began covering UA football in 2013 after spending two-plus years as the Star's high school sports coordinator. Previously, he served as the sports editor and NAU beat writer for the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff for three years.

A University of Kansas graduate and St. Louis native, Berk is still getting used to 350 days of sunshine, the relentless "dry heat" of the summer and the fact that Tucson doesn't have a real hockey rink.

Contact Daniel at dberk@azstarnet.com or by calling 573-4330. Follow him on Twitter @DSBerk.

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