As he walked off the field at Kindall/Sancet Stadium this week, Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez rattled off the reasons why he’s an Arizona basketball fan.
“They’re so athletic, they play great defense, they play hard and they’re competitive,” Rodriguez said. “They’re just really fun to watch.”
Rodriguez might be getting more pleasure out of the UA basketball team than his own right now.
The Wildcats practiced on Wednesday and will now go on hiatus until after Arizona’s spring break. The Wildcats will resume spring drills on March 24 after 11 days off.
Rodriguez is hopeful that when the UA picks back up, play will be at a higher level than it was during the team’s first five practices.
Following Monday’s workout, he laid into his squad in its daily post-practice meeting. He had issues with the team’s conditioning, strength level, execution and overall effort.
The practice prompted comments like these from Rodriguez:
- “I don’t know if anyone has any positions.”
- “Today was gross. When we’re supposed to go live, they have to run full speed until the whistle blows like they would in the game. From my vantage point, they didn’t do that today.”
- “We may be like track practice the next two or three times and just run.”
After an off day, the Wildcats got back at it on Wednesday. Rodriguez still wasn’t thrilled with his team, but thought the practice was better than Monday’s debacle.
“It’s hard to be worse,” he said Wednesday. “It wasn’t good Monday. It was better today. I’m sure we’ll have to get on them when they get back to get them back in the mode.
“Overall, we got some work done in five days and got a little bit of evaluation done.”
One issue that Rodriguez and most coaches around the country deal with is the spring football’s timing. The 2013 season ended less than three months ago, while this fall’s campaign doesn’t open for another five-plus months.
Isn’t it hard to get top effort from a group of college kids when the season is still so far away? Do all players understand the correlation between what happens in March and games in October and November?
“We have to do our job as coaches to explain it to them,” Rodriguez said. “I think they understand the importance of spring practice. They know in August we compete the first couple of weeks, but you have to prove yourself in every opportunity, especially in the spring. We don’t go live very much when August gets here.”
Rodriguez said it’s not uncommon to have a bad practice or two during the spring, and he’s dealt with it before this season. But he stressed that that doesn’t make it acceptable.
His players got the message, and knew things had to improve. Now the hope is that they stay at a high level so they don’t have to endure another Rodriguez blowup when they get back from break.
“Monday clearly wasn’t good enough,” offensive tackle Mickey Baucus said. “We wanted to turn it around and show what we were capable of. Getting back out there and executing and having good intensity is something we want to have every single practice, but it doesn’t always happen.”
Baucus, who is participating in spring drills for the fourth time, said the Wildcats have had a dud or two every year, and sometimes positives can come from it.
“There’s at least one every year, it feels like,” he said. “It’s not good to have those days, but it does provide a spark for the next, upcoming practice and sets the tone for the spring as a whole.
“Hopefully we got it out of the way early and won’t have any more this spring, and we’ll be flying around.”