Cats get breather after making some progress

2014-08-15T20:55:00Z 2014-08-21T12:14:34Z Cats get breather after making some progressDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Wildcats went through a light, no-pad workout tonight at Arizona Stadium. It was coach Rich Rodriguez’s way of giving his team a bit of a breather with one week of training camp left.

After being annoyed with his team Wednesday, the coach seemed happier with his squad tonight.

“It was a little bit of a break for them,” Rodriguez said. “Normally you would never go in the middle of camp and go one day, with one practice and it’s in no pads. But our guys have been doing OK. Mentally we’ve gotten a little bit better.”

The Wildcats will gear it back up tomorrow morning. Rodriguez said the team hasn’t gone “live” a lot in practice, but will tomorrow. He’ll be watching the running backs closely, and see how they handle it.

“We have not done a lot of physical, hard hitting with those guys,” Rodriguez said of the running backs. “Tomorrow, we’re going to go live a little bit.”

Here are some more notes and quotes from tonight’s practice:

• Nate Phillips was held out of practice with a foot injury. He was in a yellow, no-contact jersey. Rodriguez didn’t seem too worried about it, and said he’d like to have him back in practice by Monday.

Austin Hill was a limited participant in practice. Rodriguez made it sound like it was just a rest day, and Hill’s knee is just fine.

“Really for us, it’s more precautionary,” Rodriguez said of Phillips. “We’re going to rest him for a couple of days and then hope he can go Monday. Same thing with Austin. He could practice. If we had a game, he could play. But we’re going to rest him a little bit.

“Particularly if you’re a wideout, they do more running than anybody on the team just because of our offense and how we structure practice. So once in a while, we’re giving guys a little rest.”

• In the spring, Rodriguez said he was thinking of experimenting with receivers DaVonte’ Neal and Cayleb Jones on defense. To this point in training camp, it hasn’t happened yet. But the coach said he plans on giving both of those guys some reps in the team’s third-down SWAT formation next week.

He also said Samajie Grant will get some reps.

His full thoughts: “That’s one thing we have to start doing next week is our SWAT team. Whether it’s DaVonte’ or Samajie or Cayleb, some of those guys who can play in the secondary on our SWAT team, we’re going to do that. You have to teach them up, coach them up a little bit. We’ve never had the ability to do that before, but with DaVonte’ and Samajie and maybe even Cayleb, those guys will get a chance. They’ll get some reps in.”

Neal and Grant would likely play corner, with Jones maybe getting a chance at a safety spot.

It may or may not happen in a game, but Rodriguez is definitely serious about giving those three a look in practice.

• Rodriguez seemed to be mixing and matching with the quarterbacks tonight a little more than normal. Connor Brewer and Jesse Scroggins both saw time with the first-team toward the end of practice.

Brewer had a beautiful ball to Grant that eventually fell incomplete as he tried to stay in bounds, but the throw was there. Grant did haul in a long pass from Scroggins, where he had to twist his body and come back to the ball to secure it.

“Sometimes we’re inconsistent at quarterback,” Rodriguez said. “One day I think we make some progress, (another) we’re just kinda standing still. Today was a day we made a little progress in some areas, but then we still had a couple of errors you just can’t have. We have a ways to go.”

The coach said last week that he was hoping to have some separation “in the next week.” He’s delaying that timetable now.

“It’s going to be another week or two or three,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “. We’re going to start cutting the playlist down. We have enough offense in. We have to cut it down to what we think the guys can execute. If they make the mental mistakes in the next week, obviously they aren’t going to be the guy.”

• LSU defensive end transfer Jordan Allen returned to practice earlier this week after missing a few sessions with a concussion.

With Reggie Gilbert still out with a foot injury, Allen has been getting a lot of work in with the first-team.

He also seems to be moving around a little better than he was in the first week.

Rodriguez talked about him after practice: “He’s a smart guy. A fifth-year player, who has been there, done that, been in a big arena. He’s a mature guy. Mentally, he’s picked it up really well. Obviously what we do defensively is really unique compared to others. A lot of the defensive techniques are going to be new for him. But he’s going to play. We didn’t bring him in here as a one-year guy not to play.”

That’s all for tonight. Thanks for reading.

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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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