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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Culture of change present in Arizona football’s first day

Change was in the air Thursday night, in Sancet Stadium, the former home of Arizona baseball and current home of head football coach Rich Rodriguez’s first fall camp with the Wildcats.

After a 4-8 season and an entirely new coaching staff and two new offensive and defensive systems, maybe change is a good thing for Arizona football.

Instead of using the Jimenez practice facility for all football practices like they have done in the past, the grounds crew leveled the pitcher’s mound and put grass in the infield in Sancet Stadium, giving the Wildcats almost two complete fields to practice on, with a catch.

“With the grass over the infield, you don’t even notice that apart from the baseball signs everywhere,” Rodriguez said. “We haven’t gotten any of our stuff up yet.”

In addition to the signage missing from practice, the 2012 Wildcats have also worked diligently in the offseason to improve their conditioning and endurance in preparation for their first camp under Rodriguez.

“The strength coaches have really been pushing us hard this summer,” center Kyle Quinn said. “We’re all in the best shape we’ve been in, so it’s going to be fun to see it put to the test.”

On the first day of practice, Arizona players were put to the test at the end of practice, with a conditioning test that included running laps around the practice field.

Running back Ka’Deem Carey was able to complete five laps before stopping.

“The conditioning test was real easy, we’ve been doing this all summer,” Carey said. “We did it today and it felt like it was nothing, like it was practice.“

The test may have been “real easy” for Carey and some other players, but Rodriguez did notice some positions were a little farther behind than others.

“Most of the guys were in pretty good shape,” Rodriguez said. “The freshmen linemen are so far out of shape, but we knew that. It’s a night and day difference from the first practice in the spring.”

The change in mindset, location and physical shape also comes with a change in the style in which the Wildcats practice. Apart from practicing “fast” so they can play fast, Arizona players were also treated to one of the best sound systems in America thumping the bass from hip-hop and rock songs throughout practice.

“We got a brand new speaker system and it’s the best in the country,” Rodriguez said. “We try to create a little distraction for our players, create something closer to what it would be like in a game. Some of the locals may not like it, but at least we’re doing it at six at night instead of six in the morning.”

With the first day of camp done, the Wildcats only have 28 days until their season opener against Toledo on September 1. All the changes that have taken place before camp have Wildcat players believing they can do better than the media-projected fourth-place finish in the Pac-12 South.

Summer is officially over for Arizona football, and preparations have already started for a season in which most players will “have a chip on their shoulders,” according to Rodriguez and Carey.

“Spring was education time, that’s where they taught us everything,” Quinn said. “Now they’re going to be driving it home telling us what we have to do better. I’m excited to see how hard they’re going to push us and how we respond as a team.”

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