ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Cats return to practice with a wonderful feline

Quick-as-a-cat start has UA 'exhausted,' upbeat during respite
2010-09-30T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:24:59Z Cats return to practice with a wonderful felineRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 30, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats returned to practice Wednesday to find a camera crew from ESPN's "Jim Rome is Burning" and a real-life bobcat - named Wilbur - waiting for them.

Yeah, life is good when you're winning.

"It's nice to do those things," quarterback Nick Foles said. "But the big thing for the bye week is getting guys healthy. That's why we like byes."

Arizona (4-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-10) could use the break. The 14th-ranked Wildcats have been ravaged by injuries throughout the first four weeks; mentally, coach Mike Stoops described his team as "exhausted."

This week is their reward.

"It has a lot to do with where you're at as a team, your injury situation, your mental situation …" he said. "I thought we had a really good practice (Wednesday); the kids seem a lot fresher mentally, as much as anything."

The Wildcats spent part of Wednesday's workout going "good-on-good" - first-team offense lining up against the top defenders.

Before that, they had some fun.

Handlers from the nonprofit Tucson Wildlife Center brought Wilbur, a live bobcat, to meet the team. The 6-year-old male walked around the Jimenez Practice Facility before posing for pictures with Stoops and Foles.

Stoops even held Wilbur, a move that earned him some instant cool-points with his players. Rome's cameras captured it for a segment scheduled to air Friday at 1:30 p.m.

"Coach Stoops went in there like it was just unharmful," cornerback Trevin Wade said. "It was pretty brave, and pretty cool."

Grant to TE?

Adam Grant went back to the future in Saturday's win over Cal, switching from right tackle to tight end in a handful of overloaded "big" sets.

The Wildcats sixth-year senior began his college career at tight end before moving inside.

"It's fun - I get to just tee off and hit people," Grant said. "I have no complaints."

Don't expect Grant to catch any passes, though; for now, his role is strictly as a blocker.

"I keep asking them to," he said, "but not yet."

Extra points

• H-back Taimi Tutogi could return to practice as soon as next week, Stoops said. Don't be surprised if the Wildcats' power running and play-action game returns with him.

"The injuries have really hurt some of our bigger sets, and so has running the football with Taimi out," Stoops said.

• The UA held tryouts for walk-ons after Wednesday's practice. NCAA rules allow teams to hold two tryouts a year - one in the summer and one during the season.

• The Steven M. Gootter Foundation and the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center presented Cornerstone Christian Academy with a defibrillator Wednesday morning in honor of Stoops, who works closely with the foundation. Stoops' children, Payton and Colton, attend the school.

Stoops called the ceremony "awesome."

"The Gootter Foundation has been really near and dear to me, losing my father to sudden cardiac arrest," he said. "It's a great cause, and they've done a great job distributing those defibrillators throughout the community."

On StarNet: Check out Star reporter Ryan Finley's blog to keep up with the Wildcats go.azstarnet.com/finley

Up next

• Who: Oregon State at Arizona

• When: Oct.9, 4 p.m.

• TV: Versus

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

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