Tim Kish made subtle changes in his first week as the Arizona Wildcats' interim head coach, from the team's mental approach to its practice schedule.
Monday brought a more definite announcement: Assistant coach Jeff Hammerschmidt's role is changing. Hammerschmidt will coach from the booth Thursday, when the UA (1-5 overall, 0-4 Pac-12) takes on UCLA at Arizona Stadium. Running backs coach Garret Chachere will handle much of the special-teams coaching from the field; wide receivers coach David Nichol will help him.
Chachere, 42, coached special teams at Memphis for two seasons (2007-08) before coming to the UA.
"He'll do a great job," Hammerschmidt said Monday night. "And there will be some guys down there to help him."
Hammerschmidt remains the UA's special-teams coach, but his role as the Wildcats' defensive ends coach will likely expand to include more of the defensive line. He remains actively involved in practices and game-planning.
The Wildcats have struggled with special teams, specifically the kicking game, all season. But even by Arizona's meager standards, its Oct. 8 loss at Oregon State was horrific.
Kicker Alex Zendejas missed a field goal and a PAT, and Jack Baucus fumbled a kickoff. The Beavers blocked a UA punt, returning it for a touchdown, and then turned a fake punt into a key first down.
Hammerschmidt said the 37-27 loss was "one of my top couple" worst days ever.
"Things go wrong. Sometimes you get a punt blocked. Sometimes a guy tries to catch a ball on a squib kickoff and it bounces off his chest. Its like, wow," he said.
"It was a tough outing, but it's like what you tell a football players: You have to put it behind you, and move on."
The move upstairs will provide a new perspective, and some protection for Hammerschmidt.
"I think it'll be a good switch for him," Kish said.
Hall out; Fischer and Mobley likely to redshirt
Arizona will be without the emotional leader of its embattled defense this week, and probably for the rest of the season.
Safety Adam Hall re-aggravated a knee injury in the UA's loss to Oregon State, an injury that will likely keep him out of the Wildcats' final six games. Hall is eligible to pursue a medical redshirt, Kish said, since he played in only one of the UA's first six games.
Hall, a Palo Verde High School graduate, tore his right ACL in spring drills and missed the first five games. He led the UA with 10 tackles, including two tackles-for-loss, against Oregon State. Following the game, Hall said he felt fine - albeit a little sore. Hall and the Wildcats' players were off-limits to the media Monday, a trend that's likely to continue until Thursday's game.
Hall will have company on the injured list. Linebacker Jake Fischer and defensive tackle Willie Mobley are both expected to pursue medical redshirts, ending their hopes for a 2011 return. Running back Greg Nwoko has already used a redshirt year, so he will likely play at some point this season.
Bonano the man
For the third time in seven games, the UA will debut a new place-kicker. Senior John Bonano will start against the Bruins, a reward for his sold play in practice the last two weeks.
He replaces Alex Zendejas, who missed a field goal and a PAT against Oregon State, and Jaime Salazar, who started the team's first two games before being relegated to the bench.
Bonano played well against the Beavers and has been "absolutely excellent" in practice since then, Kish said.
"He has a confidence about him that I like," Kish said. "Hopefully, I'll feel that way after Thursday night."
Bonano will continue to handle kickoffs, his primary job during his two-plus seasons at the UA. He leads the Pac-12 this season with 13 touchbacks.
• Former coach Mike Stoops spoke to the team before Friday's practice, bringing some closure following a tumultuous week.
Kish wouldn't divulge the topic of talk, but said it was "very positive."
"I thought the guys responded very well to it, very positively," he said.
• Wide receiver Juron Criner is expected to play against UCLA despite suffering an apparent knee injury against Oregon State. Criner appeared to twist his knee after making a first-quarter catch, and left the game. He did not return.
• Kish will not be adding an extra coach to the staff for the rest of the season, after all.
"I had a guy in mind, but it's probably not going to work out," he said.
• Next week's game at Washington will start at 7:30 p.m. and be televised on Fox Sports Net.