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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Freshman frustrations

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona Football summer practice Aug. 21, 2009.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Football summer practice Aug. 21, 2009.

Arizona outside receivers coach Dave Nichol needed a few words with freshman DeWayne Peace after practice Thursday. The news was not what the first-year receiver wanted to hear.

There would be no playing time for him in next Saturday’s season opener against Central Michigan University. Peace was told the team would exercise his redshirt this season, putting a halt to the freshman’s hopes of seeing playing time this year.

“”Of course I’m disappointed because every freshman wants to play,”” Peace said. “”But you have to look at the bright side. I have another year to get stronger and faster and just seeing what I’ve done through camp, one more year ain’t gonna hurt.””

The first few weeks are also toughest on true freshmen. With so much to prove, some efforts appear to go unnoticed while others achieve exactly what they set out to do — earn playing time.

While the efforts Peace put forth the past month may not have played out to his expectations, not all freshmen will be entering the season disappointed. Several first-year players are still in contention for significant game time come opening kickoff.

“”We’re feeling pretty good about probably four or five freshman,”” head coach Mike Stoops said. “”I like the whole freshman class but there’s a few needs that we need these young guys to fill.””

One of these players will be Taimi Tutogi, who should see time on the field at both fullback and in the H-back position. Tutogi impressed his coaches throughout fall camp with his versatility — especially for his 6-foot-1, 250 pound size.

“”I just see myself helping the team out, that’s all I see,”” Tutogi said. “”I don’t see myself as a standout player or anything like that.””

“”But I know I’m playing so the coaches have told me I’ve got to grow up fast,”” he added. “”I can’t act like a freshman.””

According to Stoops, acting like a veteran just weeks into practice is a tall task for several freshman due to the inflated size of players and the speed of the game.

Even one of Arizona’s biggest recruits during the offseason — safety Adam Hall — said the speed of the game has taken a lot to get used to.

“”The college game is definitely a lot faster,”” Hall said. “”There’s a lot of stuff that I need to learn, like how fast everything is and the tempo, the speed at which things happen and being coached differently.””

“”Everything’s not pure athleticism anymore, so just fundamental stuff,”” he added.

Hall is one of the freshman expected to see the field early in the year from the safety position.

Another freshman that Stoops said has earned himself playing time is linebacker Jake Fischer. The 5-foot-11, 220 pound defensemen will be a pivotal backup to a linebacking core whose depth is mostly comprised of underclassmen.

Stoops said his veterans always do a good job of getting the freshman ready for when they get that highly anticipated call.

“”(The veterans) try to get (the freshman) up to game speed and show them that no one really cares how old you are on Saturday night,”” Stoops said. “”No matter what year you are you have to be able to go out and perform at a high level.””

“”It’s definitely hard for young players to understand, really — how you play the game at this speed, and the precision at which you have to execute plays in order to be successful.””

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