Redshirt freshman Solomon likely in lead of QB battle

2014-08-09T21:42:00Z 2014-08-21T12:00:49Z Redshirt freshman Solomon likely in lead of QB battleDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats went through their first two-a-day today with a near two-hour workout in the morning at Kindall-Sancet Stadium, and then a shorter workout at night at Arizona Stadium.

The coach will give his team the day off tomorrow — except for some team meetings and meals — and then get back to it Monday night.

“I think our guys need a day off from practice,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll have some good meetings tomorrow and get their legs back and get back at it Monday. I don’t think we have the sense of urgency all the time that I think we should have….But as camp goes on, they just try to get through practice, rather than have that urgency to get ready for a game.

“But I thought we got a lot of work done this week, and got better.”

Here are some notes, quotes and observations from Saturday’s two practices:

• The entire night practice was open to the media. None of the quarterbacks had a particularly great night. All of them struggled at points.

Anu Solomon worked exclusively with the first-team and was up-and-down. I kept some very unofficial stats for the “live” 11-on-11 portion of practice and had the redshirt freshman at 8 for 11 for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Most of the passes were shorter ones, where the receivers did most of the work.

His nicest ball was a seam pass to Austin Hill for 19 yards.

He also had a couple of incompletions and overthrows that drove Rodriguez crazy in the non-live portion.

After the morning practice, I asked Rodriguez about Solomon.

His thoughts: “I think he’s more confident in what he’s doing. He still makes some mistakes here and there, like you expect a redshirt freshman to do, but I think he’s really comfortable. He’s not making a whole lot of mental mistakes. Now some of it for him is a physical thing, where he’s not driving off his back foot when he throws the ball, or he’s falling backwards and not getting the zip on it he has to at times.”

Before the season, the coach said when Solomon was redshirting last year, he had a very relaxed attitude, and wanted to make sure the quarterback came ready to compete this fall.

So far he’s been pleased with his approach: “He was chilling (last year). It’s in his DNA anyway. If we would let him chill halfway through this practice, I think he would. But he doesn’t get too flustered, which is a good thing. I’m trying to get him flustered. You don’t have to be an in your face guy to be a competitor, but I want to see him be a little more assertive with his own intensity at times. That’s a work in progress.”

• After one week, Solomon seems to be in the lead, and has clearly worked with the first-team the most.

However, Rodriguez said after the night practice that the order could, and likely would change going into next week. He said hee hasn’t started thinking about the true pecking order leading into UNLV.

“We’re going to watch today and flip guys around a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “Just like any position, it’s based on performance. Guys are going to make mistakes, but what we can’t have is the egregious errors, the total brain spasms. That part, every guy, is having one of them every practice.”

• Jesse Scroggins worked with the second team and completed four of his five passes during the “live” 11-on-11. He had a couple of nice balls, and a couple that made Rodriguez throw his headset.

Connor Brewer and Jerrard Randall split duties. Randall only got one drive — the last one. He led his unit down the field 60 yards for a touchdown against a handful of first-team defenders. He capped the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run. He also had a couple of nice completions to David Richards and Trey Griffey.

“His world is spinning every which way right now,” Rodriguez said of Randall. “He obviously has some talent. It’s very important to him. One thing I like is that it does bother him when he does make a mistake. Some guys you worry about if they make a mistake, if it bothers them. It bothers him a great deal. It’s important to him. We’ll keep working with him.”

• In non-quarterback news, the Wildcats are dealing with a lot of minor, nagging injuries to a handful of players.

Jared Tevis, Reggie Gilbert, Jordan Allen, Kaelin DeBoskie, Dwight Melvin, and a couple of other players sat out both practices today.

Tevis is still dealing with a hamstring injury, and Gilbert has a foot issue.

It doesn’t sound like any of the injuries are incredibly concerning.

• Safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant has been practicing with the team, and his status hasn’t changed.

However, the senior didn’t get any reps in the 11-on-11s tonight in practice, even with the third-teamers. Rodriguez said earlier that he “hadn’t earned that yet.” I suspect he’ll start getting some reps in those situations in the next week or so.

• Cornerback Jarvis McCall is having an incredibly strong start to camp.

McCall , a redshirt freshman from Florida, ran exclusively with the first-team on Saturday, and had a huge hit on receiver T.J. Johnson on a short pass. It was certainly the hit of the practice.

Cornerbacks coach David Lockwood raved about McCall’s play after today’s first practice: “It’s like night and day. In my 26 years of coaching, I’m not sure I’ve seen a guy make that much improvement in less than a year. If you watched him the first day of camp last year going through individuals, it was like ‘oh my gosh, no way.’ You look at him now, it’s like ‘is that the same guy? Did we get a different guy?’ What he’s done is get himself in shape. He wasn’t in shape and couldn’t run to his places. Now he’s in shape, and he’s having some success out here.”

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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