Rich Rodriguez insists he’s not doing it on purpose.
The UA coach, who has forgotten more about quarterbacks than most will ever know, gets downright secretive and shy when he’s asked about his team’s situation at the position.
“I don’t necessarily mean to be coy,” Rodriguez said with a sly smile. “I’m hoping to have at least two I can win with. I’m not concerned with having a starter. I just want two I can win with.”
Did you get all that insight?
Now try this: “They’re making some steps. I don’t like to see the same mistakes every day, and that’s what’s frustrating. I don’t think there’s been a lot of separation just yet, but I predict there will be a week from now. There will be some separation.”
OK, so that’s a little better, right?
The quarterbacks haven’t been made available to reporters so far during fall practice, but that could change in the coming days. The Wildcats open their season Aug. 29 against UNLV.
In the meantime, we went to the source — quarterbacks coach Rod Smith — to find out some more about the position. Here’s what he said:
How have the quarterbacks performed so far this camp?
A: “It’s been about average. We have more work to do. We’ve done some good things, and a lot of bad things. All of them are relatively young and inexperienced, so unfortunately you’re going to have that early on. We’re trying to eliminate that as much as we can.”
Coach Rodriguez has said that one of B.J. Denker’s best assets was how well he took coaching. How are these guys taking your direction?
A: “I think they’re trying. Where B.J. had the advantage, B.J. had a whole year of No. 2 reps. Not only mentally, but physically, he was doing the active reps. That was huge. From a mental standpoint, he was further along than these guys. Talent-wise, I think they have the chance to be more talented. But they have to catch up to the mental part. If we can get them up to speed mentally and get them comfortable, then we have a shot.”
Anu Solomon seems to have made a lot of positive strides since last year. What have you seen from him so far?
A: “He’s a lot further along than he was last year at this time, and that’s natural because he was a true freshman last year. It’s night and day. It’s night and day between spring and right now with him. Is it good enough? No, not yet. But he has shown improvement; he’s shown some things that he’s starting to get a grasp and understand some things. That’s positive.”
Is he shiftier and more athletic than last season, or is he just more comfortable with the offense, so he’s just able to make more plays?
A: “I think it’s both. He’s pretty savvy. He ain’t fast. I tease him all the time. It’s like he runs a five-flat (40-yard dash). But he’s pretty savvy. He’s got a little shiftiness to him. He’s a little slippery. He has a little knack. I think it’s more that than he is fast.”
Has he made the biggest jump of all the quarterbacks?
A: “I wouldn’t say he made the biggest jump; he just made a jump, and that’s positive. I just told him: ‘You’re doing some good things. You’re not doing all good things — you’re doing some good things — now don’t stay the same. Keep pushing yourself and keep expanding.’ I think he understands what he has to do.”
What have been your early impressions of Jerrard Randall? Has he made a jump similar to Solomon?
A: “He’s kinda in that (storm) right now mentally. Certain days he looks really good; other days, you’re like ‘he’s lost.’ Everyone goes through it. Everyone does. Every quarterback I’ve ever had goes through it. He’s in it right now for the last two days; it’s because the install has gotten bigger — we’ve put more in — he’s trying to grab it.
“That kid is extremely coachable. He wants to do better. He wants to do what you tell him, and he will. I told him after practice: ‘You have to work through it. Everyone feels like they’re drowning at some point in time in this system. You’re in that stage right now. Keep learning. Keep studying. Keep expanding your mind. Keep coming in, spend more time with me.’ He does that, which is good. He’s a lot further along than he was in the spring.”
What have been your impressions of Jesse Scroggins and Connor Brewer?
A: “I think Connor has done some good things. I think he’s had a good last two or three days. Jesse had a good day (Wednesday). He’s been a little sick the past couple of days, so he’s been up and down, but I think that was due to his sickness. He had a much better day (Wednesday). Jesse can play. He just has to make sure he does it all the time, and that’s fighting through the little things and learn to persevere and have that hard edge, so to speak.”