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Arizona Wildcats’ first fall practice: Fast, loud and ‘not bad’

Derrick Rainey

Cornerback Derrick Rainey does footwork drills at the beginning of practice. Photo by Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com

The Arizona Wildcats offseason was all leading up to the conditioning test after the first practice.

Coach Rich Rodriguez’s reaction: “Not bad,” he said Thursday night.

“I thought it looked like some guys really worked hard this summer, and there was a handful who didn’t, so they will work a little extra hard … and meet me on the Stairmaster in the early morning. So, I’ll have workout partners.”

The players, based on position groups, ran timed 400-meter sprints at the end of practice. Junior safety Jared Tevis said his group ran four sprints.

“We thought we were going to be down in three,” Tevis said, “but he threw an extra one in there.”

Overall, getting a “not bad” for the first day is high praise for Rodriguez, who has been emphasizing conditioning above all else since he arrived in Tucson late last November.

“It’s certainly a night-and-day difference from the first spring practice until now,” he said.

Based on that spring, the returning players knew what to expect.

There is no stopping at practice. Plays are run rapid-fire. The ball is spotted and snapped within a couple of seconds of the completion of the previous play. No standing around. Go. Go. Go.

One change: Music now blares clearer and louder from a new speaker system, appropriately called the “Tempo” system.

“We try to create a little distraction for the players, to create something like it might be like in game day,” Rodriguez said of all the noise.

“I know some of the locals might not like it, but at least we’re doing it at 6 in the evening, not 6 in the morning. I think it adds a little to it.”

The Wildcats resume practice Friday night at Kindall Field at Sancet Stadium, the former home of the baseball team.

Arizona will remake this into a permanent practice home for the football team. For now, UA has two natural grass fields, nearly 100 yards each, running north and south. The athletic department is expected to put in FieldTurf at Arizona Stadium for the 2013 season, which will allow the team to practice there more often, splitting time there with Kindall/Sancet.

Related: Rodriguez stays within conference for his No. 1 vote in coaches poll

Arizona practice

No copper helmets for practice? Photo by Anthony Gimino, TucsonCitizen.com

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