4th Marks One-Month Countdown...

July 2, 2009

TUCSON--Independence Day on the 4th of July Saturday has a lot of meanings. For an overview, here's a portal link the United States government's Generl Services Administration built to provide historic, patriotic and celbratory information.

Locally, the 4th also marks the one-month countdown before 2009 Arizona Football officially starts.

Aug. 4 is the report date for first-time Arizona players, although many will have completed at least one session of summer school classes and taken part in permissible conditioning workouts on campus. On Aug. 5 the veterans will report and the first day of fall-camp practices begins Thursday, Aug. 6.

Head coach Mike Stoops and a player to be designated will beat those dates by a week, taking part in the Pac-10 Conference Football Media Day in Los Angeles on July 30, but the first week of August really kicks things off.

The Wildcats return 50 lettermen and 14 starters from the 8-5 club that beat No. 17 Brigham Young in the Las Vegas Bowl last December, and optimism has been strong in the off season, notably because of returning depth, a bunch of outstanding skill-position players and a defense that coaches feel will the fastest version in Stoops' tenure, now entering its sixth go-round.

The competition among two sophomores for the starting quarterback job is one key question, although Stoops, offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes and other coaches feel either Matt Scott (6-3, 190) or Nick Foles (6-5, 230) would give UA an outstanding leader, with fellow soph Bryson Beirne (6-3, 215) also on hand. The loss of three-plus-year starter Willie Tuitama appears to have colored some publications' views of Arizona chances, but coaches feel the quarterback position will be one of UA's strongest.

Nationally, junior tight end Rob Gronkowski (Mackey Award) and junior center Colin Baxter (Rimington Trophy) have drawn some pre-season attention, while several seniors will have strong influence -- corner Devin Ross; linebackers Xavier Kelley, Sterling Lewis and Vuna Tuihalamaka; defensive tackle Earl Mitchell; offensive tackles Mike Diaz and Adam Grant; and wide receiver Terrell Turner. Juniors in receiver Delashaun Dean, running back Nic Grigsby and defensive end Brooks Reed also are expected to make some noise, among others.

At any rate, on Aug.4 it's on, and then... let the games begin. The Cats open Sept. 5 at home in Arizona Stadium against '08 bowl participant Central Michigan.

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Tuesday, Aug. 4 Newcomers' report dateWednesday, Aug. 5 Veterans' report dateThursday, Aug. 6 First day of practice 6:15 a.m.Friday, Aug. 7 Practice 6:15 a.m.Saturday, Aug. 8 Practice 8 a.m.Sunday, Aug. 9 Practice 8 a.m.Monday, Aug. 10 Practice 6:15 a.m. (1st day of pads)Tuesday, Aug. 11 Practice 6:15 a.m.Wednesday, Aug. 12 Depart for camp at Fort HuachucaThursday, Aug, 13 Practices 7:30 a.m., 6 p.m.Friday, Aug. 14 Practice 8:15 a.m.Saturday, Aug. 15 Practice 8 a.m., Scrimmage 6 p.m.Sunday, Aug. 16 Leadership dayMonday, Aug. 17 Return from Fort Huachuca; Practice 6 p.m.Tuesday, Aug. 18 Practices 8 a.m., 6 p.m.Wednesday, Aug. 19 Practice 9 a.m.Thursday, Aug. 20 Practices 8 a.m., 6 p.m.Friday, Aug. 21 Practice 9 a.m.Saturday, Aug. 22 Fan Appreciation Night, Arizona Stadium, 5-6 p.m.; Practice 6:30 p.m.Monday, Aug. 24 First day of Classes, regular-season practice schedule
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