Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez has consistently lamented the NCAA’s summer shutdown, a two-month period in which college football coaches are not allowed to supervise their players.
RichRod’s most revealing comment came a few days before last week’s USC game; he suggested that the (lack of) development of his young and inexperienced quarterbacks could be traced to their (lack of) offseason direction.
“The passing execution at the beginning of camp wasn’t anywhere near where it should’ve been,” he said. “You can’t just weight-lift all summer.”
Here’s an example: Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker often throws jump passes while on the move. Can you imagine a baseball shortstop, or any ballplayer, maintaining accuracy while throwing a jump pass under duress? Denker has been at times undisciplined and reckless, although his second-half performance at USC suggests he might be turning a corner.
It’s not all on Denker; he hasn’t had enough time at the top level of college football to learn what NOT to do. Had he been able to spend the summer working on mechanics, with a coach, rather than strictly in a strength and conditioning mode, his progress would have been swifter.
Finally, as if on cue, RichRod’s appeals have been heard. Much like Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller , who is now permitted to supervise and counsel his players in the offseason, college football seems certain to do the same.
In two weeks, the NCAA Board of Directors will vote on a proposal that would allow football players to “participate in eight hours per week of required weight training, conditioning and film review during an eight-week period over the summer.”
If passed, and it’s about 99.9 percent certain it will, it would take effect immediately.
That would put those coaches in quarterback-needy situations, such as Arizona this year, to spend the summer giving instruction rather than just hoping their QBs show up at training camp with something more than a buff upper body.
Arizona still has a bunch of problems beyond quarterbacking. Its defense is undersized and lacks star-quality players, and it neither tackles well nor has Pac-12-level depth.
But, as with Denker, it is a developing team, not one destined to come apart.