Stepping into Spring ball

Twitter: @CooneyLand

TUCSON, AZ – University of Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Tuesday to preview Saturday's start to spring practice. Below is a brief transcript.

His thoughts on the offseason:

"Our strength and conditioning coaches feel the objectives they wanted have been accomplished. I haven't seen the results yet from the testing we've been doing this week but I'll see that by Friday. Now our coaches are getting ready for practice starting Saturday."

His thoughts heading into spring practice:

"I'm excited with the additions on the staff, I'm excited to be out on the field with our players. Starting Saturday, we get to work with them 20 hours a week and I feel good about that."

On the message from year one to year two:

"Every team is different. I don't think the program changes but the team changes from a personality standpoint. I've said many times, I thought we had really good senior leadership last year so I'm waiting to see how that develops this year. I think a lot of the guys who were here with us last year understand how we're supposed to work and how we approach things. We expect anywhere from 35-40 new guys on the team this fall so there's going to competition just to have a roster spot and we want it that way."

On his comfort level this spring compared to last:

"I felt really comfortable last spring as far as the surroundings, the environment and what we were putting in. The biggest difference is we know our guys. We know what we have and we know what we need to work on. Last spring, we focused on fundamentals but we also introduced our schemes. This spring will be a lot more about fundamentals than it is schemes. There will be some practices where we won't do a single team period at all. It'll be 7-on-7, some inside stuff and a lot of individual work; for two reasons, because of our numbers and what we're trying to accomplish."

On the transition period of players in regards to spring football:

"The spring is important but it's only 15 practices. I think in the days of 20 practices and they were all full pads, it was a little more valuable. Plus your players weren't around in the summer. Now, kids can come in the summer and train with the team. I think they teach each other a lot during the summer. You're a little ahead as a quarterback or any position if you're here in the spring but not so far ahead that a guy can't come in and win the job."

On Ka'Deem Carey's status:

"He's progressing well and he'll be with us in the spring. His process of making sure he shows the true person that he is still ongoing but he's been doing well. We've got close tabs on him and he knows that. He knows he's made some mistakes and has to prove to what kind of person he is."

On looking back at last season:

"You reflect back but maybe not as much as learn from. Schemes or methods or ways, I think it's important as a coach to look back at the good and the bad. There were a lot of positives but we also have a lot of things to improve on. Once recruiting and signing day are over, you take about a month and our coaches have been looking at last year's film. We'll continue to do that throughout the spring and in the summer."

On the health of the team heading into spring practice:

"We have about a dozen guys who's won't be going through full spring practice. We have a lot of guys who had shoulder surgery and they'll be doing some limited things. That's another reason we won't be doing a lot of team periods in practice but thankfully, all the surgeries were successful, we think, and they'll work hard to be good to go in August."

"Jesse Scroggins had foot surgery, probably something he needed to get fixed earlier in his career. We had a choice, we could have tried to play with it but we'd rather have everybody at 100 percent in August. He'll be very limited this spring. We're not sure what he can do. He won't be in any full-contact practices but he will be able to sit in meetings and learn schematically what we want to do."

On what he hopes to learn about the quarterbacks during spring practice:

"It's not so much about finding a starter, it's about finding guys we can win with. We hope to find two or three at every position. I don't know if we're there yet, it may take us a couple years recruiting and development to get to that point. At quarterback, we're looking for two or three guys we can win with. And I don't know if we have that. That's a question. I don't know if we'll have that answer after spring. We do have some guys I'm looking forward to working with and the competition gets enhanced in August."

On what needs to stand out from the quarterbacks this spring:

"I think Coach (Rod) Smith charts a few things. I don't go back and look at the stats. It's relative, a guy could be working against the third group or freshmen and his stats are better. I think you just know. I've been doing this long enough I know whether a guy is progressing enough and if we can win with him. B.J. Denker has proven himself a little bit. He's already played some. But he's the only one. He's got to get better but I know he's working pretty hard. I'm anxious to see how much better he's gotten. We're not adding anything this spring, no wrinkles, nothing we want to experiment with. We really just want to work on fundamentals."

On the hiring of Matt Caponi:

"Matt knew what we were doing system wise. He's been a full-time college coach and has had experience. He's got a good personality and I think he'll be an outstanding recruiter. I'm excited about him, excited about Jim Michalczik, our new offensive line coach. I think he'll do a great job. And Charlie Ragle, as well. I feel really good about our coaching staff and our support staff. With the rules changes in August, I think the support staff is going to be more important than they've ever been."

On the redshirted freshmen now in the mix:

"I think we played half of the freshmen and redshirted the other half. I've told them all, their redshirt year is over. Now is their time to show they can play and prove themselves. I don't want out guys talking about it, I want them showing it. Our strength staff came up with a neat saying on a shirt, it says 'shut up and work'. That's perfect in its simplicity. That's what we want our guys to do. And they've been working pretty hard and I would expect, over the next 34 days starting with practice on Saturday, they'll work pretty hard again."

On the intensity of spring practice currently compared to in the past:

"I think there was more intensity in the past. I think 10-15 years ago when every practice was full pads and you were hitting, I think there was more intensity then. Nowadays, I believe there are only seven days you can tackle in practice. I think way too much is probably made out of spring. I know everyone here would like a depth chart and I don't think I can give you one. I can give you a list of guys who are competing at every position. But we won't have a depth chart after spring because we'll have a dozen guys who don't participate, not counting a few guys who maybe get banged up. Plus with 30 new guys coming in the fall, including the walk-ons, our depth chart won't be determined until two weeks into camp in the fall."

On evaluating the redshirted players:

"We got to see them in practice so we did evaluate then. At 18 or 19 years old, a lot of guys will make a big spike in their development in a year or two, particularly in your first year. They're still growing young men. If they did their job in the weight room, which I think they did, you can see it when practice starts. Will there be anybody who surprises us and jumps out? I hope so. I do think we'll be more competitive in certain spots. We have to be. We were so razor thin last year. We'll still be thinner than I want to be but we'll be more competitive at more positions than we were last year."

On the rotation at center:

"All of our offensive linemen are taking reps snapping. Junior college transfer Steven Gurrola will be coming in in the fall. I'm not concerned with finding a starter but I do hope we can find seven or eight linemen that we feel can play multiple positions and be comfortable with them."

On the strongest position groups:

"Defensively, we need depth at all positions. We'll have to wait until the class comes in in the fall to do that. I think we probably have more experience at wide receiver than other positions. That's the position we're most comfortable at now. We have guys we know can play and have a good rotation there."