The first Arizona Wildcats spring football practice concluded Wednesday evening on a merry note.
Players caught punts, entertaining their teammates during a light-hearted game.
"We're having fun. That's the most important thing," senior quarterback Nick Foles said.
Wednesday marked a fresh start after the Cats lost their final five games of the 2010 season, falling 36-10 to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl to finish 7-6.
Wednesday also opened a new chapter to what the Cats hope will be an improved season; the two-hour session at Jimenez Practice Facility began a stretch of three weeks of practices, wrapping up with an April 16 spring game.
"Nice weather, new day, new spring, it's good to be out here. The first day is always the best day," said new receiver Dan Buckner, a transfer from Texas. "No pads, get to run around and have some fun."
With the addition of Buckner and return of Foles and senior receiver Juron Criner, Arizona's passing game is expected to be a strength, leading to much of the optimism on Day 1.
Coach Mike Stoops called Buckner an "extreme talent" - he made seven starts in 2009, catching 44 passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns for the Longhorns.
Senior David Douglas rounds out the receiving group.
"Our skill level has never been this high. This is the best group of receivers we've ever had," Stoops said. "We've got to get the ball in our playmakers' hands."
Meanwhile, the Cats will be breaking in five new offensive linemen and trying to better establish a running game.
Foles said the Cats will learn from last season and try to move forward.
"We have a young O-line. We have a young D-line, so you think people are going to be hesitant, but guys are flying around, working hard," Foles said. "The big thing I liked was nobody was afraid to make a mistake.
"There would be dropped balls, or something would happen or a missed throw, and you just keep going. People weren't getting down."
Seniors Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne will back up Foles, but Scott could redshirt during the 2011 season.
Scott replaced Foles midway through last season after Foles suffered a dislocated kneecap, but Scott's season ended with wrist and shoulder injuries. He said he resumed throwing a couple of weeks ago.
"I would prefer to redshirt. I think it would be in the best interest for me," Scott said. "I'm a team player, and I like to do what helps my team, but at the end of the day, I still have to worry about my future."
The Cats will practice Friday and Saturday this week, then four times a week thereafter, with a scrimmage on April 2.
"It's nice to get out of the office," Stoops said. "It's a nice day. This is what they enjoy, playing football. I really like this team.
"Each year, our maturity and our overall team experience is much better."
• Freshman quarterback Cam Allerheiligen from Keller, Texas, has left the team and will transfer and play baseball at a junior college, Stoops said.
• Defensive tackle Justin Washington and cornerback Shaquille Richardson were limited at practice, Stoops said.