UA FOOTBALL

Arizona Wildcats football: Rodriguez hopes to remedy sloppy start in spring scrimmage

2013-03-29T00:00:00Z Arizona Wildcats football: Rodriguez hopes to remedy sloppy start in spring scrimmageDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Rich Rodriguez hasn't been happy with his football team recently. He hasn't liked the effort, technique or execution the Wildcats have shown through the first eight spring practices.

"They may not be happy with me, either," Rodriguez said. "The feeling is probably mutual."

Tonight, the Wildcats have a chance to get back on their coach's good side and determine how the final six practices of the spring will go.

The Wildcats will scrimmage for the second time this spring, and this time they will take their show on the road. Arizona will head to Phoenix College for a 7 p.m. scrimmage.

Rodriguez wants to see a better effort than the team gave in its first run-through. He would like to see more of the "Hard Edge" mentality he's worked tirelessly to instill in his team over the past year-plus.

It's been missing this spring.

"I've been too nice," Rodriguez said this week. "I have nobody to blame but myself. It's not the kids' fault. I've made it too easy to play football at the University of Arizona.

"We have smart enough kids; they'll figure it out."

They are already starting to.

Rodriguez's message that he wants to see more from his team has been clear.

The coach thinks his team is out of shape and playing with too little urgency.

"We have to get better and get in more shape," safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant said. "It's a mind-set that we have to get to. We have to focus and know we have to watch more film and get better in all aspects."

The Wildcats will run about 60 plays tonight, down 30 from their first scrimmage earlier this spring. Rodriguez is hopeful his players use the fun atmosphere in Phoenix to start impressing him.

"The scrimmages are fun for the guys because it's game situations," Rodriguez said.

Bondurant agreed.

"Scrimmage is always better than practice," he said. "Even though you learn a lot in practice, the scrimmage is full-fledged and we get to hit each other. We don't get to do that a lot. When we get a chance, we like to have fun with it."

Initially after the first scrimmage, Rodriguez was OK with it and happy his team got through it healthy. After he watched the film, his opinion changed.

"We evaluated it in all of its ugliness," the coach said. "It wasn't pretty."

Asked if it was more effort or technique he was upset with, the second-year coach replied with one word: "Yup."

He'd like some of his starters and standouts to take a lesson from the team's walk-ons. The coach said he sees some of the non-scholarship players working with a chip on their shoulder and more urgency than the others.

That's not the way it's supposed to go.

"We have a few kids that are trying to prove themselves," Rodriguez said, "and I want more guys like that."

The Wildcats will be shorthanded tonight as they have been all spring. Several defensive starters - the usual suspects at this point - will miss the scrimmage as they are still limited with injuries.

For the players that will suit up, they know their coaches will be watching them closely in the competitive setting.

"I mostly get excited for it because it gives me a chance to prove myself and I have a lot to prove," said linebacker Dakota Conwell, who played sparingly in 2012 as a true freshman. "The scrimmages - I look at them as a chance to make a name for myself."

In the team's final practice on Wednesday leading up to the scrimmage, the coach started to finally see some things he liked.

He's hopeful it carries over to tonight, where the vibe will be fan-friendly and loose.

"I would be disappointed if they don't come out with a little enthusiasm and have some fun," Rodriguez said.

Key dates

• Today: 7 p.m., scrimmage at Phoenix College

• April 13: 1 p.m., spring game at Kindall/Sancet Stadium

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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