Cats Open Week 2

Aug. 10, 2009

TUCSON – Monday morning marked the beginning of a new week and the donning of full pads for the Arizona Wildcats as they were back to the practice field for Fall Camp at 6:15 a.m. at Salpointe Catholic High School.

While heavy contact already began on Saturday with shoulder pads, slightly increased physical play always comes on the first day in full pads. Energy may not have been at its highest level, but the fifth training camp practice was efficient and coaches are generally quite pleased with the progress the team is making.

“For us, the tone doesn’t really change that much,” head coach Mike Stoops told the media following practice when asked about full pads.” We’ve had good competition all over the field that we’ve never had before. We are able to go good-on-goods everywhere on the field.”

Monday’s workout was a carbon copy of Sunday’s workout, except with the full pads and a return to a 6:15 a.m. start as some players conclude summer school courses this week.

Coaches are beginning to focus team drills on more game-specific situations as was evidenced at the end of practice in the 11-on-11 period with the offense battling the defense in red zone situations.

The defense clearly had the upper hand in the late drill, with UA’s starting trio of linebackers creating havoc for the offense. On consecutive plays, Sterling Lewis batted a pass from Nick Foles, Vune Tuihalamaka swatted a ball away from a receiver, and Xavier Kelley teamed with Lewis to stuff a Keola Antolin rush at the line of scrimmage.

Earlier in practice, the offense had more success. Matt Scott completed 5-of-6 passes for 44 yards in his 12 snaps with the first-team offense to begin the 11-on-11 period. In 7-on-7 action, Foles was an efficient 4-of-5 passing for 31 yards.

Stoops praised the progress the offense has been making against a defensive unit that expects to be top-notch in 2009 following a Top-25 national ranking a season ago.

Coaches are also pleased with a lack of injuries to date in camp. Although a handful of players are dealing with some nagging injuries, serious injuries have been avoided thus far.

“Little things are beginning to creep up,” Stoops said when asked of injuries. “But that’s a normal thing five days into camp.”

Arizona will practice again at 6:15 on Tuesday at Salpointe Catholic High School, before taking Wednesday off. Players will wrap up Summer Session II courses during the day on Wednesday, then depart in the evening for Fort Huachuca.

At Fort Huachuca, the Wildcats will host their first two-a-day practice on Thursday, return for a single workout on Friday, then hit the field twice on Saturday. The second practice on Saturday will be held at Buena High School and will feature an open scrimmage beginning at 5:30 p.m.

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