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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Football Notes: Wildcats making progress after Rodriguez canceled practice

Arizona football players are used to getting an earful.

Former head coach Mike Stoops damaged eardrums for eight years at Arizona, preparing his players for the harshest of tongue lashings.

First-year head coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t have the Stoops-esque sideline antics and visor spikes, but he’s no stranger to putting players on blast to get his point across.

Rodriguez did exactly that on Monday when he canceled practice to critique every single play from Saturday’s scrimmage, ripping into individual players along the way. Whether Rodriguez’s film session was a calculated motivational tactic or not, it worked.

“It humbled some people,” Arizona receiver Dan Buckner said. “You’re going to get put on the spot in front of all your teammates. You don’t want to let your team down. When he points you out in front of the whole team, it’s not to embarrass you, and it’s not personal. He called me out. He called a lot of guys out. I think we all came out and worked harder today. I know, me personally, I didn’t want to let my teammates down and let my coaches down. What you put on the field, that’s your resume.”

Under Rodriguez’s direction, Arizona’s resume is slowly but surely improving. The Wildcats are embracing their new coach’s high intensity, and it showed during Wednesday’s practice.

“I think we reacted well,” said UA quarterback Matt Scott. “Coach wasn’t too happy, as we heard in film, so guys reacted well and we came out here and played hard.”

All of the huffing and puffing is starting to make sense, but with only five practices under their belt, the Wildcats still have a long way to go before they fully embrace the mindset Rodriguez is working to instill.

“I think sometimes, if it’s not a game, some guys maybe don’t practice as hard or don’t take the rep as serious,” Rodriguez said. “In order to be a championship program every rep and everything you do in practice has got to be worked at a championship level. I like competing and I think our players like competing but they’ve got to show it more often and I think they will.”

Hall back to old self

He may not look the same without his long, curly black hair, but Arizona safety Adam Hall is back to his old self.

After missing all but one game last season due to a torn ACL, the 6-foot-4, 213-pound Hall is participating in every aspect of spring ball while flashing the skills that helped him rack up 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, three pass break-ups and two interceptions in 2010.

“It feels good to be out here with the guys running around making plays,” Hall said. “I feel really good. I’m trying to get better every day. By the time we get back in the swing of things after spring ball I should be 1,000 percent.”

As a result of last season’s “learning experience,” Hall said he has a “better relationship with the game and (his) teammates.” With veterans Trevin Wade and Robert Golden trying to make it in the NFL, it’s up to Hall to lead the secondary after ranking last in the Pac-12 in pass defense a season ago.

“We as a secondary need to come together,” Hall said. “We’re learning new technique and every day it’s a battle for us. It’s just growth. My role right now is to improve myself and help all the young guys catch up as fast as possible.”

Bonano faces competition

Arizona place kicker John Bonano has some competition.

Although Bonano made 8-of-12 field goals and drilled all 24 of his extra points last season, transfer Jake Smith has turned some heads in spring practice. The junior walk-on played at Youngstown State last season and Syracuse in 2010. The starting job appears to be Bonano’s to lose, but the Elkins Park, Penn., native isn’t far behind.

“He’s been, I don’t want to say a pleasant surprise because we thought he had some ability from watching some highlights from him, but I think he’s having an outstanding spring,” Rodriguez said of Smith. “I think John Bonano’s got a great leg. He’s a good, solid kicker but we need another one and Jake has done some pretty good things so far in five practices.”

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