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August 11, 2013

RichRod livid after UA defense jumps on offense

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. -- Disgusted would not be a strong enough word to sum up Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez's thoughts about his offense after Saturday night's open practice.

Using a modified scoring system that rewards big plays and various other things, the few highlights from the Wildcats' spread attack were not enough to escape Rodriguez's wrath. Tied at 35, the defense ran away with a 67-44 win at Bujalski Field, continuing a trend that has gained steam the past two days at Fort Huachuca.

The result was so ugly that, afterward, all members of the offense were made off limits by Rodriguez.

"There's nobody in a white shirt that deserves to be talked to and get your attention," Rodriguez said.

A day removed from the entire team being labeled sloppy, the morning practice earlier in the day yielded just one player of the day, safety Jamar Allah, when the staff typically picks one practice standout from the offense, defense and special teams.

So, in a way, the storm was already brewing.

An aggressive and active UA defense continually deflected passes and pressured a mostly ineffective stable of quarterbacks - which did not include transfer Jesse Scroggins, who sat out both sessions with recurring concussion symptoms.

"I don't tell the doctors what to do, the trainers what to do," Rodriguez said. "They tell me who can practice, who can't practice. Whoever is out there is supposed to execute. That ain't happening neither."

Sophomore safety Anthony Lopez told GOAZCATS.com that the defense's improvement deserved a share of the credit, as well.

"I feel like it's not that the offense isn't clicking," Lopez said. "I just feel like our corners are doing a great job. Safeties are all doing a great job. [Defensive line] was getting into the backfield. Linebackers are getting through the line on blitzes.

"It's not the offense that's being bad, it's just the defense is coming up."

And there is certainly plenty of truth to that, as the defense came into the scrimmage with just one "loss" in practices since camp opened last Saturday.

Now eight days into fall camp, and 20 away from the season opener against Northern Arizona, any questions about how the battle for the starting quarterback job looks were not to be asked on this night.

In fact, there weren't many questions that did not rile up the second-year UA head coach, who was snapping off answers before the questions were completely asked.

The offensive line failed to block and the receivers, when not harassed and pushed around, were dropping a number of the throws that did make it to their hands.

"I'm concerned about everything on offense. Everything," Rodriguez said. "You want to know what I'm concerned about offensively? Everything.

"I could probably get five guys off the street - I can get a whole lot more than that here at Fort Huachuca, off the post. I guarantee you I can get at least 10 guys off the post here that can block better than we're blocking. Easy. I could do that tomorrow - maybe, tonight."

When asked about his "annoyance," Rodriguez added: "Do I look annoyed? Well, then I am. To answer your question, yes."

Before he was finished with a rant that lasted a little more than four minutes, but felt much longer, Rodriguez let reporters know that it wasn't a matter of coaching a bad group of players on offense. Heck, three-fifths of the offensive line is made up of returning starters, and that particular unit looked fairly solid up until the scrimmage.

But at the core of RichRod's animated media session was the lack of a competitive nature that was evident early.

"It's as simple as that. I told them that," Rodriguez said.

"You can call me a mean guy, or whatever. But I'd rather be called that than a loser."

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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