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March 6, 2012
Before safety Adam Hall could utter a single word to the media Monday, he had to take the first of several deep breaths and gather himself.
The visibly winded 6-4 junior, who is coming off separate ACL and foot injuries, was just one of many Arizona Wildcats players who appeared gassed after the team's first spring practice under new head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Welcome to Camp RichRod.
"We're getting after it today," Hall said. "The new coaches, the new philosophy - everything. I was pretty good with practice. The pace was real fast."
Hall said he was feeling "pretty good" after donning a UA helmet for the first time since playing just one game last season.
"It's been a while since I played some football," said Hall, who missed the first five games of the 2011 season, returned Oct. 8 at Oregon State and then was shut down for the final six contests. "Going 100 percent strength, training, speed and agility, and now practice. My body's catching up and feeling back to where it needs to be to play football."
He added that the pace of practice was the "biggest difference" between last season's style and the new coaching staff's philosophy - which is to "out-hustle you," Hall said.
The players moved from one workout drill to the next, five minutes at a time, until all 20 "periods" of practice were complete.
Senior center Kyle Quinn needed just one word to describe the tempo: fast.
"It's no-nonsense, there's no wasted movements with coach [Rodriguez]'s system," Quinn continued. "We're going to be fast; it's going to be something to see."
Time was another thing Rodriguez did not let the players waste.
"I think one of his main points was: nobody walking on the field," senior quarterback Matt Scott said. "He hates to see people walk on the field, and I think we'll get used to that real quick."
Last week, Rodriguez noted that the team's conditioning could use some improvement, and Quinn said that the offseason workouts with strength and conditioning coach Chris Allen at least prepared the players leading up to the first practice.
Several players have expressed their thoughts on the workouts via Twitter the past few weeks, and Quinn's assessment of the amount of work was on par with his teammates.
"Just intense. Lots of lifting and lots of running," he said. "Just continuous, it's nonstop. There's no breaks with [Rodriguez]'s system. You only get a 20-, 30-second break in between plays. So, when we're working out, you don't get a 20- or 30-second break between lifts. You're constantly lifting, constantly keeping your heart rate and your cardio up."
Before the nearly two-hour session started, Rodriguez said that making it through the first practice might be its own accomplishment.
"If they can make it through all 20 periods of practice without falling out, that'd be a good thing," he said, smiling.
And as Rodriguez figured, Quinn added that there was still "a little bit" of a shock to the speed of practice.
"It's only going to get better from here. We've still got a long way to go," Quinn said.
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor
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