Citizen Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – The Arizona Wildcats will wake up early to get their work done during fall camp, setting their alarms to be on the field by 6:15 a.m.
The kickers have to get there a half-hour earlier.
“It simplifies our day. There are no excuses as everybody is there. There is no class,” UA coach Mike Stoops said at the Pac-10 media day events on Thursday. “Guys will be coming back for meetings and walk-throughs. It utilizes our day better and gets it out of the way for them.”
The morning workouts also may help UA avoid summer school conflicts and monsoons that usually hit during the late afternoon practice sessions.
The Wildcats open camp Aug. 4 at the Rincon Vista Complex, 15th Street and Plummer Avenue, with the players returning two days earlier. Summer school ends Aug. 13.
“I don’t mind starting that early,” UA quarterback Willie Tuitama said. “It depends on how much sleep I can get. I just have to go to sleep earlier than norm.
“It’s not going to be so hot. It’s OK. You have to do what you have to do.”
A look at other Pac-10 teams:
Quarterback Rudy Carpenter is comfortable in the spotlight and answering questions.
Nothing seems to faze the senior, who is the Pac-10 active leader in passing yards (7,998), touchdowns (65), completions (586) and 300-yard games (nine).
“If you have a quarterback, you have a chance to be successful, and we have a good one in Rudy,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said.
Senior nickel back Jeremy Peyton has decided to give up a chance to play this season to finish his degree.
“He wants to get on with his life,” Erickson said. “The bottom line is he didn’t want to play any more.”
The Bears have hired former San Francisco 49ers quarterback coach Frank Cignetti to take over the play-calling duties from head coach Jeff Tedford.
Cal started 5-0 last season but lost six of its final eight games, so Tedford is giving up his play-calling duties to stay in touch with the entire team.
“I needed to go back and do the job as a head coach,” Tedford said. “(Cignetti) has brought in new philosophies and new concepts, but for the most part we are going to be the same.
“I will still be involved with game-planning, but it is very difficult to do it all.”
The Ducks traditionally have one good running back, but they might have a pair this season in Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount.
Johnson is recovered from a knee injury and ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. Oregon also expects big things from Blount, a junior college transfer.
“(Johnson) is totally healthy,” Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. “LeGarrette is a power runner. He can break a lot of tackles and run north to south. Jeremiah is a jitterbug in terms of his skill. They will complement each other.”
Playmaking sensation Sammie Stroughter returns for his senior season after being given a medical hardship year by the Pac-10.
In 2006, Stroughter returned three punt returns for touchdowns and caught 74 passes for 1,293 yards. He missed action in 2007 because of personal reasons and a kidney injury.
Bruins offensive coordinator Norm Chow has gone from helping lead USC to national titles in 2003 and 2004 to the crosstown rival Bruins, with a stop in between as an assistant coach for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
“The biggest influence is every quarterback in the country calls us and wants to know if he can come,” UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. “There’s a great allure to Norm Chow and well deserved. It gives him rock-star status. It’s fun to be in that marketplace.”
The Bruins could use a few more quarterbacks this year, with Ben Olson coming off a knee injury and Pat Cowan’s career over because of a knee injury.
Both were injured at the same practice this spring.
Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh made headlines by declaring USC as “the best team in college football history” at last year’s media day.
No flashy headline this time.
“I didn’t know I was a bulletin- board guy,” he said, obviously trying to downplay his comments and subsequent upset over USC last season.
The Cardinal shocked host USC despite being a 41-point underdog last year.
“It was a great thrill of winning down at the Coliseum last year,” Harbaugh said. “But that is water under the bridge.”
As a freshman, Salpointe Catholic High School grad Kris O’Dowd wowed coach Pete Carroll enough to start the first game at center last year.
“Kris just took over, making his calls,” Carroll said. “His physical nature of the game, his competitiveness – that was clear from day one.
“He’s way ahead of his time.”
Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham has been in hot water in the Seattle area for not turning around the program and going 4-9 a year ago.
A challenging 2008 schedule that includes a season-opening road tilt at Oregon, followed with games against BYU and Oklahoma, doesn’t help.
“I look at it as a challenge,” Willingham said. “We have one of the most difficult starts in the country. If you can get to Autzen Stadium (in Oregon) and fare well, you feel you can do well against the other teams you will face down the road.”
Senior receiver Brandon Gibson decided against leaving early for the NFL. He is one of the best go-to guys in the league.
Gibson caught 67 passes for 1,180 yards and scored nine touchdowns a year ago.
“I didn’t feel I was ready to compete at the NFL level,” Gibson said. “It’s a competitive league. You are playing against grown men. I thought another year would help me mature, and I’m happy with my decision.”
UA 2008 SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Time (TV)
Aug. 30 Idaho 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 Toledo 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at New Mexico 6 (CSTV)
Sept. 27 at UCLA Noon (FSN)
Oct. 4 Washington 4 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Stanford TBA
Oct. 18 Cal 7 p.m. (FSNA)
Oct. 25 USC 7:15 p.m. (FSN)
Nov. 8 at Wash. St. TBA
Nov. 15 at Oregon TBA
Nov. 22 Ore St. 4 p.m. (Versus)
Dec. 6 ASU 1 or 6 p.m.*
* FSN or ESPN or ESPN2