Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez stood at midfield at Kindall/Sancet Stadium on Saturday night in his red UA T-shirt, blue hat and khaki shorts for one final pep talk.
"I want to see energy," the second-year coach yelled. "I want to see excitement."
The team then did one final stretch and broke up for the first drill of fall camp.
And if Rodriguez needed a reminder that his squad still has nearly four weeks to prepare for its first game of the 2013 season, he got it right away.
On the first snap of practice, quarterback B.J. Denker lined up behind center Jacob Arzouman, puts his hands in set position to grab the football and promptly fumbled it to the ground.
Freshman Anu Solomon lined up for the same drill two plays later and did the exact same thing.
The coach has been through enough first practices to have an idea of what he was going to get. Saturday was about par for the course.
He was pleased with some aspects and unhappy with others.
"It was about what I thought," Rodriguez said. "Pretty good effort by a lot of guys; some not in shape and we had a handful of upperclassmen that have to do a little extra to get in shape. Elite athletes don't show up in August and expect to be ready to go."
Once the early nerves were gone, the Wildcats got down to football.
Safety Jared Tevis had the first interception of camp when he picked off Denker in a seven-on-seven drill. Fellow safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant got on the board a couple of plays later when he picked off Solomon.
Denker, in his audition to be the starter, didn't have the best debut. When Rodriguez was asked about his signal-caller after practice, he said reporters should read between the lines - and that he wasn't letting Denker speak to the media.
However, Rodriguez also cautioned not to read too much into the directive. He said Denker, who served as Matt Scott's backup last season, still has plenty of time to get back in his good graces.
"He competed, he's in good shape, he worked hard, but the execution in the passing game should be a lot better," Rodriguez said.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the opening practice was who didn't participate. Quarterback Jesse Scroggins, who missed most of spring drills recovering from offseason foot surgery, remained out Saturday night. Scroggins wore a yellow jersey, signaling he was a limited participant. Rodriguez said after practice Scroggins recently suffered a concussion in the weight room and wasn't cleared to practice.
He's hoping the former USC quarterback will be cleared in time for tonight's practice.
With the exception of Scroggins' noggin, Saturday was relatively quiet. All freshmen were present and accounted for and All-American running back Ka'Deem Carey was a full participant.
Rodriguez said he was impressed with the defense. It was clear to him that the unit already looks improved from last season, and should take a step forward this year.
"I think today went really well for the defense," the junior safety from Canyon del Oro High School said. "We came out here with the right intensity and the right focus and it showed. We got a few turnovers and that's what we're trying to do."
He also recognized his head coach wasn't all that pleased following practice.
"He's never happy when the offense is down in the scoring, so it was amplified a little bit," Tevis said. "Everyone has to improve. As a defense, we didn't do well last year. So it's everyone that has to get better."
Added junior tackle Mickey Baucus: "In the back of your mind, you know there's a ton of work to be done. But, at the same time, we waited the entire offseason, since the bowl game, for today. We love football and it was great to be back out there and now we have to put the work in."
• The UA got a commitment from former Boise State defensive lineman Jeff Worthy early Saturday morning. Worthy redshirted the 2011 season for the Broncos and then was suspended for nearly all of 2012 following an undisclosed rules violation. He was dismissed from the team in February.
Worthy will play the upcoming season at Santa Ana (Calif.) Community College and then plans to enroll at the UA in January and join the team for spring drills in 2014.
• Receiver David Richards did not practice. The sophomore was on crutches and was wearing a walking boot on his left leg.
On StarNet: Catch a glimpse of the first practice with more photos by Kelly Presnell from Saturday at Kindall/Sancet Stadium: azstarnet.com/gallery
Training camp: Day 1
At Kindall/Sancet Stadium
• Temperature at start: 91 degrees and cloudy at 6:30 p.m.
• Newcomer watch: After committing to the UA on Monday night, former Texas quarterback Connor Brewer was in uniform Saturday for the team's first practice. The 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound quarterback was officially accepted into the UA this week and is listed on the roster. He took snaps with the scout team when the UA was in team drills and was a full participant in practice. Brewer will wear No. 11 for the Wildcats.
• The big number: 135: The first practice of fall camp lasted 135 minutes. It began at 6:30 and wrapped up at 8:45. There are 24 more practices to go in camp.
• Saturday: Fort Huachuca scrimmage
• Aug. 17: Scrimmage on campus
• Aug. 23: Scrimmage on campus
• Aug. 30 (Friday): Season opener at Arizona Stadium vs. NAU, 7 p.m. on Pac-12 Arizona
Contact reporter Daniel Berk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk