Monday, March 4, 2013
Weekend practice wrap
By Kevin Gemmell
Catching you up on the weekend practices. Arizona, Cal and Stanford are the only three teams that have kicked off spring ball. Cal had the weekend off and resumes practice today.
The Wildcats opened the spring session on Saturday with a helmets-and-shorts workout that lasted about two hours.
"I think it was a pretty good start," said Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez. "I like the enthusiasm. We had great weather and our guys were anxious to get out there. There was pretty good retention from what we ended the season with so I thought it was a pretty good day ...
“I think we are always coaching effort and certainly, fundamentals. We’re really so simple in the spring we shouldn’t have a lot of mental mistakes. Fundamentally, I want to see them doing the right things and effort, are they doing it on every snap”
The Wildcats will have one of the higher-profile quarterback competitions in the offseason with several players looking to replace the departed Matt Scott. B.J. Denker is one of those guys.
“Like all of our returning players, we’re expecting B.J. to have a better understanding of what we are doing. We want him to be sharp mentally and physically, have a sense of urgency. I think he had a pretty good day. I thought Nick Isham had a good day and Javelle Allen is learning. We’re going to put a lot of pressure on those guys, as much as you can in the spring, and try to simulate the pressure you face in the game.”
The defending Pac-12/Rose Bowl champs had an open practice on Saturday that was highlighted by big plays on both sides of the ball. Linebacker James Vaughters, who is moving from inside to outside linebacker this spring to replace Chase Thomas, tallied two sacks in a five-play stretch. Paired with Trent Murphy on the opposite side, the Cardinal should again have the top OLB duo in the league.
“I thought the star of the day was unquestionably [James] Vaughters and his explosiveness … his ability to get in the backfield,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw.
On the offensive side, running back Barry Sanders is trying to stake his claim for the top running back spot. The Cardinal are looking to replace Stepfan Taylor, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher, and there are plenty of options. Tyler Gaffney will get added to the mix when he joins the team on April 1. But for now, Sanders showed off his skills with 20-yard touchdown run.
“Barry Sanders’ run for a touchdown was phenomenal -- he made three guys miss and got to the end zone,” said Shaw. “I’m also excited about the progression of our wide receivers. Ty [Montgomery] and Michael Rector both had really good days and Devon Cajuste showed some really good signs also.”