Arizona Football Camp Notes

Aug. 12, 2002

TUCSON - Arizona Fall Training Camp Notes...

...The Wildcat football team, just under three weeks from its season opener, has been mostly all business in two-a-day training camp sessions under second-year head coach John Mackovic. But, the coach had to admonish his players to refrain from what basically amounts to trash talking in drills Sunday night. UA players were overly exuberant after a number of plays in live passing and full-line drills, but also exhibited too much mouth for the UA mentor. 'The only thing that counts is games,' he told reporters after the workout. 'You can't talk your way into being good. I don't like bantering. They need to just keep working.'

...On Monday Mackovic noted that coaches were re-teaching the 'thud' practice style typical of professional football camps where hitting is more of an artful thing than a wild effort...

...Offensive coaches have set up drills so redshirt freshman Nic Costa and true freshman Ryan O'Hara can get enough repetitions at quarterback -- a not always easy proposition for a team trying to get ready for a game. 'We're giving Jason about 50 percent of the work and letting the other two share the rest,' Mackovic said. But as camp moves on, he said he anticipates Johnson will draw about 60 to 65 percent of the plays during live-action drills...

...True to form, Johnson ran about 13 plays to 10 by Costa and O'Hara in a morning skeleton passing drill, and made the most of it. In 'scoring zone' work, he completed seven passes, five for apparent touchdowns including two by senior receiver Bobby Wade. Costa threw to Juan Valentine for a score and O'Hara completed a TD strike to Wade on the corner. Defensive players came up big a number of times, with an interception off O'Hara by linebacker Justin Stewart and deflections by safety Clay Hardt, two by corner Darrell Brooks, and one each by linebacker Joe Siofele and freshman linebacker Akin Akinniyi...

...Officials do not have final word yet on defensive linemen Young Thompson, Vince Feula and Carlos Williams, all awaiting summer school grades before Mackovic will let them report. Another lineman, reshirt freshman defensive tackle Isaac Waats, has been determined to be ineligible for the fall semester, but the other three could be cleared for action... One other player, cornerback David Hinton, was similarly cleared before the first day of camp. In the absence of the defensive linemen, junior college transfer Carl Tuitavuki, a 6-foot-3, 350-pound interior tackle, is getting plenty of work. He appears to be one solid pick for playing time among newcomers...

...Senior receiver Bobby Wade had the teams' top time in the mile run on Saturday to open camp. He clocked a 5:04 time running with the fleet group. Other top times for the running groups were posted by Hinton, kickoff specialist Ryan Slack, linebacker Nick McCalmont, defensive tackle Copeland Bryan and offensive lineman Aaron Higginbotham...

...Senior whip linebacker Scott McKee, a three-year letterman as a backup and special teams player, was awarded a scholarship this week. McKee, a graduate of Tucson's Sabino High School, is the son of a former Wildcat, Larry McKee, a three-year letterman from 1969 to 1971. 'He earned it,' Mackovic told the team after practice when announcing the award. 'He's done everyting we've asked, he's a senior and he's a contrtibutor.'

...The Cats have practices scheduled once Tuesday everning on the main-campus practice field, then return to twice-daily sessions Wednesday through Friday. Friday's evening session will follow 'Fan Appreciation Night,' an autograph session at 6 p.m. in Arizona Stadium. The Cats will scrimmage some that evening, and also hold its final public scrimmage Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Stadium...

...Senior linebacker Lance Briggs, the Cats' leading tackler the past two years, senior Wade as a return specialist, and junior halfback Clarence Farmer were three Wildcats selected to the preseason Football Writers Association of America All-America watch-list today. Briggs is on the group's Lombardi Aawrd watch-list. Farmer was held out of a couple of late-practice drills Monday morning because of a slight hamstring pull suffered in practice Sunday night...

...The Cats have not been rained out or had practice altered despite the Tucson area receiving some of substantial precipitation during the summer monsoon season, but training at UA facilities rather than in an out-of-town camp offers more flexibility in that area if thunderstorms do strike. Mackovic said being around the UA's new strength training facility -- the Bill Estes Family Center -- is a much better deal than trucking equipment to a distant site. The full team got a medium-paced lift in on Sunday in two groups...

...UA's situation at halfback, with Farmer and redshirt freshmen Mike Bell and Gainus Scott, appears strong. Bell had a number of eye-opening plays in a Saturday full-team drill, although the team cannot wear full pads until Wednesday so running drills are early-whistled, and the backs keep running... At fullback, redshirt freshman Sean Jones appears to be atop the depth chart and has made some nice catches out the backfield... Fellow RS frosh fullback Antoine Singfield is working back into form after offseason ankle surgery, and true freshman Gilbert Harris is geting some work there as well...

...Freshman punter Danny Baugher, the USA Today prep punter of the year in 2001, continues to impress. He averaged nearly 47 yards per kick in Monday morning's kicking session before the full team got to work, pushing hard against returner starter Ramey Peru, who had a 40-yard average during the same workout...

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