Spring Sports In Full Swing... Football's Back, Too

March 21, 2004

With a full spectrum of Arizona spring sports in full swing, UA partisans can welcome another sport this week -- as the Wildcat football program begins a new chapter under head coach Mike Stoops.

Stoops, hired on the final day of November to replace John Mackovic, gets to see the real thing in practice starting Tuesday when the Cats begin spring drills.

Arizona fans might have to wait a bit to see the entirely new staff in action, as Stoops is expected to keep practice closed for some of the early drills during the first actual field work of the transition.

The Cats return nearly the entire starting offense plus a defensive unit manned by half-a-dozen 2003 starters. Stoops told reporters about a week ago that the depth chart opens anew, however. In fact, he said UA will likely not issue player-unit ratings until well into spring ball. Afterall, none of the current UA coaches have seen one guy work on the practice field.

Coaches have shared some time with players in conditioning drills limited by such factors as the fact no football (the ball itself) could be present during such action. Plus, UA's new football strength coaches have worked diligently with the returning squad in a comprehensive eight-week program since January. All parties seem to be impressed with the early work, most noticeably the players' willingness to start the new UA football chapter with enthusiasm.

But, this week the goods get the two-way introduction in earnest: Wildcat players begin working on the staff's new offensive and defensive packages, and the coaches get to see firsthand how the squad works at it.

The Cats will hold 15 practice spring sessions culminating in the Spring Game in April.

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