Training camp is just about over for the Arizona Wildcats.
Coach Rich Rodriguez’s team will go through the “Beanie Bowl” tomorrow night at Arizona Stadium — a glorified walkthrough where game-like situations are tested — and then have a light practice Friday.
The UA has already started doing some preparation for UNLV and is getting closer to game-week practices than training camp practices.
In other words, we are getting really, really close to some real football.
But for now here are some notes and quotes following this afternoon’s practice at Kindall/Sancet Stadium:
• Rodriguez insists he doesn’t know who the starting quarterback will be for the opener against the Rebels.
He joked when I started to ask about the quarterbacks, “I thought we were going to get away without one quarterback question.”
But the coach then did offer some real insight into a timetable and his thought process: “Coach (Rod) Smith is doing a really good job of juggling the reps, because he’s still juggling all four. Now what will happen after tomorrow night, it’s not live, but it’s a little bit of a game situation, we’ll try all four guys reps tomorrow and then Friday’s practice. Saturday, when we have a little time to catch our breath as coaches before we go to Sunday’s practice, we have to say here’s one and here’s two, or here’s one and one and three and four. We can’t rep four next week.”
• The coach admitted he has an idea who it will be, but that it changes often: “I have an idea who it is today. I usually sometimes change my mind after I watch film. Most coaches say ‘well let me watch the film’ well in this case, I really do. I can tell a little bit on the field, but sometimes I watch the film and say ‘oh he did make the right read, or oh, he didn’t make the right read.’ So it takes a little time to evaluate that.”
It would be a pretty gigantic surprise at this point if it’s not Anu Solomon taking the first snap, but as the coach cautioned, things can always change.
• Defensive end Reggie Gilbert and wide receiver Nate Phillips remain sidelined at practice with foot injuries.
Rodriguez is hopeful both will play against UNLV, but it doesn’t sound like a lock.
“(Gilbert) is further along,” Rodriguez said. “We thought initially he was going to be out the first game, but now we’ll see how he progresses through the week, but there’s a chance he can play. Same thing with Nate. We’re going to rest him through the week and we’ll see over the weekend if he can practice Sunday.”
• The coach offered a bit of an update of where he thinks his team is just more than a week out from the first game.
It doesn’t sound like things a whole lot different than the past two seasons: “I don’t. I went back and looked through some of my notes from last year and I had some of the same concerns, and two years ago I had some of the same concerns. I think I’m like that every year like ‘jeez, we’re coming up on game week here and there’s still so much stuff we have to do.’ So even though tomorrow is just a light walkthrough, we’re going to have an extended walkthrough during the day, which we would never do on gameday, just to make sure we have the situations covered.”
Rodriguez has about the same number of concerns as he’s had the past two seasons, but mainly because of two positions: “You have to replace the key position at quarterback. You have to replace an All-American at running back. I have just as many as a year ago.”
• As it’s sounded all camp, it will likely be running back by committee to open the season. Expect Terris Jones-Grigsby, Jared Baker, Jonathan Haden and Nick Wilson to all get carries against UNLV.
“There’s really been no one to take charge of the position,” Rodriguez said. “I keep waiting for it. Terris Jones, him and Jared Baker have the most experience, but those two little freshmen will play a little bit. That’s the hard part, you get better with more reps, these guys have had to learn with limited reps, but that’s OK; we have more options to choose from.”
That’s all for tonight. Thanks for reading.