RICHROD

Arizona football: He's no Dr. Phil, but RichRod aids kicker

2012-09-04T00:00:00Z 2013-09-10T15:13:34Z Arizona football: He's no Dr. Phil, but RichRod aids kickerRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 04, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Less than 24 hours after the worst moment of his college career, Arizona's John Bonano walked back onto the football field for a do-over.

The place-kicker delivered, albeit a day late.

"Two or three times in a row," new coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I said, 'This is for the game-winner,' and he nailed it right down the middle."

The Arizona Wildcats have already gone to work fixing the mistakes that cropped up in their 24-17, overtime win over Toledo.

Bonano, who missed a pair of 25-yard field goals - including one that would have won it on the final play of regulation - kicked again during Sunday night's practice on campus. Wide receiver Richard Morrison, who dropped a touchdown and fumbled at Toledo's 6-yard line in the same quarter, went back to catching passes.

Rodriguez chuckled Monday when asked about his "philosophy" to help struggling players.

"I don't know if anybody has a magic deal. I've never been one to sit down and have a Dr. Phil moment with any players, kickers or otherwise," he said, referring to talk-show host Phil McGraw.

"Just go work. If something's not right and you're not doing something as well as you can, go practice it more," Rodriguez added. "If you're not making free throws, go shoot free throws. If you're not making kicks, go kick. That's the best answer to those kinds of situations … is to go work on it.

"When you work on it, it becomes second nature."

Arizona (1-0) will host No. 19 Oklahoma State (1-0) Saturday night, the toughest test of its three-game nonconference slate, and coaches are focused on cleaning up issues they noticed during a long film session from the Toledo game.

There are "a lot of things we can correct," Rodriguez said.

The Wildcats committed three turnovers in their season opener, all of them coming in Toledo territory, and were penalized seven times for 56 yards. Two UA touchdowns were called back because of penalty flags, and quarterback Matt Scott overthrew a few open receivers.

"We definitely shot ourselves in the foot," center Kyle Quinn said. "It was just little mistakes that are easy to fix. We'll work hard this week, work out these mistakes and move forward."

Non-con scheduling

Rodriguez and UA officials will likely schedule their future nonconference conservatively. That means the team will likely stay at home more than it travels.

Arizona is scheduled to host UT-San Antonio and travel to UNLV next fall, and play the same teams - plus Nevada - in 2014, with two of the three games at Arizona Stadium.

At issue is the Pac-12 Conference schedule, which mandates that each team play nine league games a year.

"A lot of BCS conferences don't have that," Rodriguez said. "That leaves those other three (games): We've got to play at least two at home if we can, especially when we have a four-home-game conference season."

Fischer earns honors

Middle linebacker Jake Fischer was named the Pac-12's defensive player of the week for his performance in the Wildcats' win. The Ironwood Ridge High School product, who missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery, posted a game-high 13 tackles, 2 1/2 of them for loss. He also forced a fumble.

"It's an honor," he said. "There are so many other things I could have done better on. Trying to improve on those and becoming the best player I can be, that's what I'm focusing on."

Fischer and a handful of other Wildcats played all 94 defensive snaps in the win. The linebacker said he was "a little sore" when the team reconvened for practice Sunday night.

Extra points

• Fischer wasn't the only Wildcat singled out for awards: Safety Jared Tevis, Scott and punter Kyle Dugandzic were named the coaches' players of the week, and Scott was named honorable mention quarterback of the week by the College Football Performance Awards.

• Four true freshmen - Wayne Capers Jr., Will Parks, J.T. Washington and Cayman Bundage - made their college debuts in last weekend's opener. Capers, Parks and Washington all played on special teams, while Bundage filled in at left offensive guard before going down with a leg injury.

Bundage is "practicing; he's good," Rodriguez said Monday.

The Wildcats will try to develop depth throughout the season, though it may be hard to come by given the team's current construction.

Said Rodriguez: "I don't want to play a guy just to play a guy. We've got to play the guys that we're ready to win with.

"We need to have more guys give us the confidence that we can win with them, when they're in there, and they will. I don't want to force the coaches to play a lot of people, but I like to play a lot of people."

Up next

• What: Oklahoma State at Arizona

• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

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