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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Football Notes: Rodriguez disappointed with Wildcats effort in first full regular season practice

Larry Hogan/Arizona Daily Wildcat UA football coach, Rich Rodriguez

Arizona’s first regular season practice didn’t meet head coach Rich Rodriguez’s expectations. He doesn’t believe players are in shape for the new spread-option, no-huddle offense he’s implementing this season, he said after practice Wednesday.

“We’re not in shape,” Rodriguez said. “It’s disappointing that we’re not in better shape, but the guys understand that. I think some of it is that it was a little warm (Wednesday), we hadn’t practiced in three days and school started and they forgot what it was to play hard.”

Tuesday was meant to be the first full practice of the regular season, but a midday monsoon cut it short. So when the effort wasn’t up to Rodriguez’s standards yesterday, the players felt it through some added conditioning.

“We needed a hard practice … we needed to zap them a little bit because they’ve had three days off,” he said.

The coaching staff chose to eliminate seven easier drills designed to prepare the team for its week one matchup against Toledo and instead replace them with more intense and physically demanding drills.

Injuries on the line becoming a growing concern
It was announced Tuesday that defensive lineman Justin Washington was suspended from the team and defensive end Dan Pettinato, a potential starter on the line, may not be ready for Toledo.

The news didn’t improve yesterday, as Rodriguez revealed that another potential starter at defensive end, redshirt sophomore Kirifi Taula, is not ready to practice fully yet. Taula has been wearing a green jersey during practice, thus limiting his participation in drills.

Taula started four games for the Wildcats last season and recorded 21 total tackles and four tackles for a loss.

Other Injury News:

– Senior linebacker Greg Nwoko still isn’t practicing fully after he suffered a leg injury in his first practice at his new position. Nwoko played running back for his first three seasons in Tucson but was moved to linebacker during fall camp to provide some added depth.

– Kicker John Bonano is fully recovered from a leg injury that kept him out at the start of fall camp. Rodriguez said Bonano will still be doing kickoffs in addition to his placekicking duties this season.

Bonano, a senior, has been doing kickoffs for the Wildcats since 2009, but became the full-time placekicker in the fourth game last season and was 8 for 12 with a long of 47 yards.

– Cornerback Jonathan McKnight’s hitting has been limited in practice after sustaining a minor shoulder injury. But despite the sore shoulder, McKnight has fully recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of the 2011 season and he will be ready for the start of the season.

McKnight, a redshirt sophomore, is battling juniors Shaquille Richardson and Derrick Rainey for the starting cornerback spots, but all three will be featured heavily in the defense this season, Rodriguez said.

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