Dawn of a New Season
Aug. 6, 2009
TUCSON – The Arizona Wildcats officially opened their 2009 Fall Camp on Thursday, holding their 6:15 a.m. practice at Salpointe Catholic High School just one mile away from the University’s campus.
The Wildcats workout was sharp for an early season practice, particularly one without pads as the players must ease into the full gear per NCAA regulations. Players worked through various individual, group, 7-on-7 and team drills during the two-hour practice, which was accompanied by background music which has become a theme for all UA practice since last year’s Fall Camp.
“It’s good to be out here,” head coach Mike Stoops told the media afterwards. “We really enjoyed this new field and facilities here at Salpointe. I thought we had a great first day. We had a few things that needed to be corrected, but that is to be expected during the first couple days of camp. I was really pleased with the overall performance of the team this morning.”
Veterans and newcomers alike appeared to be in high spirits despite the early wake-up call. Offensive players and specialists arrived early for pre-practice work, while defensive players strutted in a few minutes before 6 a.m. with a noticeable amount of enthusiasm pouring out from some of the returning members.
“It’s a little hard getting used to, especially for many of our younger players,” Stoops said of the sunrise practice. “But I thought the pace picked up very well as we got into drills.”
Most on-lookers, which included local media, Salpointe students and staff, as well as a scattering of UA fans, had their eyes focused on the quarterback battle. UA coaches have yet to name a starter from a trio of returnees, but sophomores Matt Scott and Nick Foles shared equal reps with the first and second team offensive units.
With full contact practices still a few days away, most of Thursday’s focus in team drills was on the passing game. Both Scott and Foles showed nice mobility in the pocket, improvising on plays when the pocket broke down.
Scott completed 4-of-6 pass attempts for 35 yards in the team’s blitz period, while Foles tallied 25 yards on his one completion in three attempts.
Foles continued to show some big-play ability in the passing game during the team period, completing 5-of-7 passes for 80 yards, including a trio of passes to A.J. Simmons. Scott was just 3-of-6 for 18 yards, but did scramble for a few sizable gains outside of the pocket. Bryson Beirne also took reps at quarterback, completing both of his pass attempts for 25 yards.
The defense made its share of plays, too, while mixing in the second and third-string units as much as the first team. Ricky Elmore, Marcus Benjamin , Cam Nelson and Xavier Kelley each broke up a pass during team drills.
Arizona will return to the practice field again on Friday morning. Day two will begin at 6:15 a.m. at Salpointe Catholic High School.