Stop me if you’ve heard this before: UA coach Rich Rodriguez is still waiting to hear word from the NCAA about Davonte’ Neal’s eligibility.
Nine days out from the UA’s season-opener against NAU and the Wildcats are still clueless as to whether or not they will have the former Notre Dame receiver and kick returner at their service.
Rodriguez spoke about the process a bit after tonight’s practice.
“It’s a little frustrating,” the coach said. “Davonte’ has a great attitude. School starts Monday, games start Thursday; it sure would be nice to know. He’s been getting a few reps. We’ve just been going on the assumption (he won’t play) until they tell us he’s eligible. He’ll get some reps, but not with the ones and twos. If he is eligible, he’ll be jumping up right away and get some reps as soon as we find out.
“It’s not on our timetable. Our compliance has done everything and anything possible. Now, we’re just waiting on the NCAA. I don’t know what the holdup is, but hopefully we’ll find out soon.”
Some other news and notes to come out of tonight’s practice:
• The quarterback competition seems to be getting more clear, but is still ongoing. It seems like senior B.J. Denker is back on the good side of Rodriguez and has gotten stronger as camp as gone on.
“B.J. has been ahead from day one just because of the experience. But I’ve challenged him more and B.J. has responded to the challenge,” Rodriguez said.
The coach said Jesse Scroggins has been sick the last couple of days and it has created more of an opportunity for Javelle Allen and Nick Isham. Allen is a guy that also seems to be impressing Rodriguez as fall camp progresses and has definitely improved his stock.
“I’ve been pleased with the way B.J. has progressed and how Javelle has progressed the last couple of days,” the coach said.
• It doesn’t seem like freshmen Anu Solomon or Khari McGee are in the mix right now. That’s not a surprise at all based on what the coach has said lately. He reiterated it tonight.
“The freshmen aren’t ready to play,” Rodriguez said. “That part I know.”
Both Solomon and McGee seem like candidates to redshirt at this point, though that can certainly change.
• Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said the third linebacker spot is still up for grabs. Obviously, Marquis Flowers and Jake Fischer have two of the starting spots locked up.
The third one seems to be coming down to Keoni Bush-Loo, Scooby Wright and a couple of others.
“We’re still evaluating there,” Casteel said. “I think we have some capable guys. Who the guy is right now--I don’t think that’s done. We need to be able to play more than three or four guys. That’s one of the things the kids learned last year. We have more depth there and will be able to rotate more than we did last year.”
A few quotes from after tonight’s practice:
• Denker on where he’s improved the most this camp: “Probably consistency—being consistent on every play, every drive and not turning the ball over, not forcing the ball. This week I haven’t really forced the ball down field or into coverage, which is one of the main points, one of the main goals. So, I’m trying to be overall consistent not throwing the football into coverage and making smart reads.”
• Casteel on the defense as a whole: “We’re making progress. Our deal with the kids is to be consistent and understand what we’re doing and I think we’re playing with better effort and obviously a better understanding of what we want out of them at this point. We’ll find out a week from Friday. We just have to stay healthy. We have some more bodies that can help us. We have a little more depth. I’m happy. I think their attitude is great. I think their work ethic is great. We haven’t had to get on them as much as we probably had to last year.”
• Casteel on some freshmen that have stood out: “We’ve got some capable freshmen. (Derrick) Turituri is a guy who is going to continue to improve. DeAndre Miller is another guy. A local guy, Jake Matthews, we’ve been giving him reps. Those kids are going to continue to get better as they get reps. For the exception of Derrick, those kids have to get in the weight room. They’re going to have opportunities as long as they can perform on the practice field. If they do that, we’ll give them opportunities on Friday and Saturday nights.”
• Casteel on the defensive line generating more pressure: “Well I hope we can. If we don’t, it’s going to be another long year. We obviously have to do a better job. That’s the type of thing that will be answered as we get through the season.”
• Rodriguez on developing more depth at linebacker: “I think we’re deeper just because of the freshmen class. Scooby Wright, Turituri, DeAndre Miller, Jake Matthews, they’ve given us some depth there that we didn’t have last year. Jake Fischer played 100-something plays in some of the early games. That’s just way too many. But, we didn’t have any other bodies. Heck, we moved Marquis Flowers to linebacker in the middle of camp; he was a safety. The situation was desperate.”