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The Daily Wildcat

 

Football notes: Rodriguez sets depth chart for first game

Rich+Rodriguez+speaks+during+the+press+conference+to+officially+announce+his+appointment+to+the+head+coach+of+UA+football%2C+on+22+Nov.+2011.++%0A%0AKeith+Hickman-Perfetti%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat
Keith Hickman-Perfetti
Rich Rodriguez speaks during the press conference to officially announce his appointment to the head coach of UA football, on 22 Nov. 2011. Keith Hickman-Perfetti/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

At Pac-12 Media Day in Universal City, Calif., the Arizona coaching staff was required to release a preliminary depth chart as a part of its media guide. But head coach Rich Rodriguez was quick to scoff at the chart, in part because fall practice had not begun yet.

Monday, an updated, while still unofficial depth chart was released, this time with no “or’s,” unlike the last chart, which featured 23 positions of uncertainty for Wildcat coaches and players. Rodriguez made sure to mention that the week one depth chart was far from concrete.

“This is a depth chart as of Monday at 1:40 p.m.,” Rodriguez said. “There’s going to be more than 22 players playing, I can promise you that. It’s constant rotation.”
The positions with the most fluidity still are wide receiver, running back and offensive line, where coaches have said they would like to play at least four running backs, seven wideouts – and “seven or eight linemen,” Rodriguez said.

The five offensive line starters listed for Saturday’s game against Toledo are sophomores Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele, junior Chris Putton and seniors Kyle Quinn and Trace Biskin.

“We’re hoping to have five linemen that play 90 plays, they’re in good enough shape to do that,” Rodriguez said, referring to the speed and level of conditioning his linemen are going to have to play at to keep their starting spots. “There’s different combinations of what (offensive line) coach (Robert Anae) like.”

The defense experienced the most turnover on the depth chart, as there are seven positions that have different names listed than the July 17 edition.

Safety Mark Watley, who was a part of the two-deep rotation at safety a month ago, is now not even listed as a starter or immediate backup, along with defensive lineman Justin Washington, who is not there because of suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.

“He’s still in the mix,” Rodriguez said. “He still has a chance. As of today, the other guys have just practiced a little bit better.”

Flowers comfortable with switch to linebacker

Arguably the most noticeable change on defense will be the permanent switch of junior Marquis Flowers from safety to linebacker.

One of the Wildcats’ most effective and experienced defenders, with a fourth-best 68 tackles in 2011, Flowers said the transition hasn’t been difficult.

“The change, it wasn’t sudden,” Flowers said. “The coaches called me in and asked me and told me it would be better. I have no problem with it. The game plan isn’t going to change much, I’m going to play fast and play hard.”

Flowers played linebacker in high school, so he has a little bit of experience at the position.

“It’s nothing really new,” Flowers said. “The biggest challenge for me is making sure I stay low.”

At the safety spot, as soon as the ball was snapped, Flowers would read the eyes of the quarterback and begin to backpedal to defend the pass. At linebacker, the mentality is completely different, bracing to prepare for the run first.

“I know that if I run into a lineman like (senior) Trace (Biskin), he’s going to put me right back on my back,” Flowers said. “Staying low, but playing hard and playing physical. It should correlate. Good things will come.”

Scott ready for season opener

Senior quarterback Matt Scott has not started a game since UCLA in 2010, and has not started a regular season opener since 2009, against Central Michigan, but his last-ever first game in Arizona Stadium hasn’t added any more pressure for him.

“It’s been a long road for me,” Scott said. “ It’s just another game. The preparation is the same.”
Scott played against Toledo at the start of the 2010 season in a 41-2 bludgeoning by Arizona, passing for 53 yards and a touchdown, but was also in the game for a holding penalty in the endzone, which resulted in a safety.

Scott has “grown a lot” since 2010, after a redshirt year that “humbled” him. In Scott’s eyes, the fact that he’s played Toledo before means nothing in terms of how he’s preparing.

“It’s irrelevant (that Arizona played Toledo two years ago),” Scott said. “They have a whole new defensive coaching staff. I haven’t looked at it like that.”

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