Rodriguez ticked with team's practice

2014-08-14T14:09:00Z 2014-08-21T13:01:57Z Rodriguez ticked with team's practiceDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

When Rich Rodriguez walked off the Kindall/Sancet Stadium practice field Wednesday night, he was a heated man.

As it happens once or twice every training camp, the coach wasn’t pleased with his team’s practice. He was angry with just about everyone associated with the program.

Again, this usually happens every training camp and spring, and really isn’t a huge deal.

The Wildcats had a better practice this morning, and will go again tonight.

Rodriguez was much more calm after the team’s 8:45 a.m., workout, but said he was still a tad annoyed with his team.

“Normally when I’m really mad like yesterday’s practice, by the next day, I feel better about it, but today I was still ticked,” Rodriguez said. “It wasn’t the whole practice, it was just a couple of parts of it. But they have to work through it. I wanted today to be hard with hot weather and see who will push through it and who would fold under a little bit of pressure. I think they’ll respond.”

Rodriguez had plenty to say after the practice. Here are some notes and quotes from that session:

• The coach said this year’s quarterback competition is much more of an actual competition than last year: “B.J. (Denker) was clearly ahead, but he hadn’t done enough to prove he could be the guy, but he was clearly ahead. Right now, it’s tighter. It truly is. One day you think one guy is going to separate, or two guys are going to separate, and then it doesn’t happen that way. But as long as they’re getting better and making steps. We have about another week of work to see who are the guys we think we can win with.”

• Anu Solomon, Jesse Scroggins, Jerrard Randall and Connor Brewer have all been getting reps in practice. Rodriguez said that won’t be the case the week of the UNLV game, and he’ll have it pared down by then.

He also mentioned for the first time today that it’s possible a quarterback could have a specific package or two within the playbook. That’s something that could potentially slice the playing time at the position.

“We can’t rep four guys game week,” Rodriguez said. “But we can rep four guys if there are limited packages for a couple guys. In other words, he just runs these eight to 10 plays. Then we can give him those eight to 10 plays and then just move on.”

He obviously didn’t name names, but it wouldn’t be hard to see the Wildcats design a package or two of plays for Jerrard Randall, as he continues to learn the playbook and get up to speed. He has the athleticism and speed to bring a different element to the offense in specific situations.

Again, that’s just speculation there that’s who he was talking about.

• Denker has been back on the practice field the past three days with the Wildcats. It appears he’ll have some role with the team this year, either as an intern or a student assistant.

The details are still being worked out there, but his presence can’t be a bad thing for the UA’s inexperienced quarterbacks.

• Even though he said quarterback and offensive line are the two toughest positions to learn as a true freshman, Rodriguez said the UA could have some freshmen on the two-deep at offensive line.

He was asked specifically about Layth Friekh: “Layth has a chance to do that. It’s a little bit scary. But I think our schemes are pretty simple.”

Some other quotes from the head ball coach:

• On senior left tackle Mickey Baucus: “I’m proud of Mickey. He’s played a long time. He’s always been serious about his craft, but I think this is the most serious he’s every taken himself in the offseason. He’s healthier than he’s ever been. He’s been really solid all camp and all spring.”

• On what he looks for in walk-ons: “You have to certain skillset, and certain ability to play at this level. We don’t just invite guys off the street. But those are usually guys that are extra hungry to prove themselves; that believe they can play on this level. If we didn’t think they could, we wouldn’t give them an opportunity. Our walk-on situation has gotten to a point where it’s competitive to get one of those 35 spots. The first year, we literally had guys that had never played football before try out, and almost make the team and some almost did.”

• On freshmen quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins and Zach Werlinger: “I like Brandon. I like Zach Werlinger, too. The two freshmen we have are really smart, really conscientious; they’re both going to be really good football players. I like what I’ve seen so far. We’re still giving rookies 10-15 minutes of team-work every day. Those two have shown a good bit to me so far.”

• On going to Fort Huachuca Saturday and Sunday, but not practicing: “I love the people up there. The best thing we did was the dinner with the soldiers, so we’re still going be able to do that. We have such a nice practice facility, not just this, but with Lowell-Stevens facility. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to move the operation and not be as efficient. If we could be as efficient as this, but I don’t think there is a way to be. We’ll practice in the morning (in Tucson). We’ll have a great dinner up there. I know they probably wanted us to be up there for a few days, but just the fact that we can go up there and say hello to all the good folks up there and have dinner with soldiers will make it worthwhile to me.”

Also, if you missed it, here are our video interviews with Curtis Conway and Rick Neuheisel:

That’s all for now. 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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