Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Spring No. 2 of RichRod era nearing end
By Kevin Gemmell
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has two requirements for the Wildcats' spring game on Saturday. 1) Have fun. 2) Don't get hurt.
With a big chunk of the roster already out this spring, the last thing Rodriguez wants is to add more bodies to the disabled list.
"I'm not looking for how many yards in rushing or passing or how many sacks we got," he said. "I want our guys to have fun. Show some of their skills and hope nobody gets hurt out of it. We're so thin body-wise with 20 kids not practicing so we'll limit it to 60 or 70 plays and let them have some fun in front of a crowd."
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said he's not yet ready to name a starting quarterback for 2013.
Spring No. 2 of the RichRod era, which wraps with Saturday's scrimmage, was a little more efficient than Spring No. 1, when new systems were being installed on both sides of the ball. Still, it's nowhere near where Rodriguez wants it to be.
"Certain parts were more efficient," he said. "They understand the pace of practice and the tempo you want to go to. Other parts weren't as much simply because we missed [graduating quarterback] Matt Scott and had some guys injured. I would have liked for everyone to be healthy and for us to have more bodies."
Most of the focus this spring has been about who will replace Scott -- the Pac-12 leader in total offense in 2012. Rodriguez chuckled because he had to give the "coach-speak answer," even though it wasn't coach speak.
"The typical coach will tell you he doesn't know, but he really does and just won't say anything until the fall," Rodriguez said. "But I truly don't know."
And he's not in any hurry to name his starter. While some coaches prefer a sooner-than-later approach -- because it gives other players time to adjust to their quarterback -- Rodriguez said that's not his philosophy.
"I understand why someone wants a guy right away, but I want our guys to compete," Rodriguez said. "With a couple new ones coming in the fall, I think the competition will carry on through camp. I'm hoping that by the week of the first game, we won't only have one guy, but two guys that we feel comfortable that we can win with.
"I want our guys to all compete and keep competing. Just because the guy starts the first game doesn't mean he starts the second game. If he starts on Tuesday at practice, he might not start Thursday. We won't tell a guy 'you're a backup, this is what your role is.' No. We want our guys to be more competitive than that. I think our guys like that. They have to earn their job every day. It's not that they have to look over their shoulder if they screw up. We love to have open competition and I want to be able to play more than one guy at every position if we can."
Also different this spring are a couple of offensive stars with national names. Wide receiver Austin Hill and running back Ka'Deem Carey weren't known much outside of the Pac-12 this time last year. But after Carey led the nation in rushing (1,929 yards, 23 touchdowns) and Hill was a Biletnikoff semifinalist (81 catches, 1,364 yards, 11 touchdowns), the duo are sure to garner greater attention.
"I would be disappointed if Austin didn't have a similar year," Rodriguez said. "It's his second year in the position and he knows all four receiver positions so we can move him around. He's another year getting bigger and stronger in the weight room. I think Austin can have another big year, particularly if our quarterbacks develop the way we hope they can.
"Ka'Deem had a phenomenal year. We were lucky because he was able to stay healthy and he's an extremely hard worker. He played with a chip on his shoulder and he was hungry. He ran hungry. We're going to challenge him to do that again and we think he will."