The Arizona Wildcats are halfway through spring football practice, and coach Rich Rodriguez realizes he made a mistake.
“I have been too nice,” he said.
Rodriguez dressed down his team after Monday’s practice, his voice carrying across the Kindall/Sancet practice facility, and he was still agitated when he met with a small group of reporters.
Did you take a closer look at the scrimmage from Saturday?
“Oh yeah. We evaluated it, in all its ugliness. Wasn’t pretty.”
Was it effort or technique?
You don’t seem particularly happy with the team right now.
“Nope. It’s all right. They might not be happy with me either, so the feeling’s probably mutual.”
Perhaps a good mid-spring venting is good for the soul. Rodriguez didn’t get into specific areas of needed improvement — all of them, suffice to say — and neither did he call out anyone by name. It’s mostly that he knows the standards it takes to win at the highest level, and if he’s not seeing it, he’ll do something about it.
Which gets back to his point about not being too nice (if anybody has ever accused Rodriguez of being that on the field).
“I have nobody to blame but myself,” he said.
“It’s not the kids’ fault. It’s my fault. I made it too easy to play football here at Arizona. You know, that’s not how we’re going to build the program. We have smart enough kids. They’ll figure it out.”
Arizona practiced in shorts Monday, but can work out in pads for the remaining seven of 15 practices, capped by the spring game on April 13.
Rodriguez will be looking for much improvement in the second half of spring ball.
“We have some kids who are really trying to prove themselves,” he said. “I’ve got several walk-ons who have come in with a chip on their shoulder. I need more of them with that kind of attitude.”
Arizona has been without a dozen or so key players this spring because of injury, including about half of the potential starting defensive lineup. The depth situation is such that Rodriguez said the Wildcats will go for about 60 plays in Friday night’s practice/scrimmage at Phoenix College at 7 p.m. after running about 90 plays in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“We will go up there and hopefully see a nice crowd and have a little fun and have the guys enjoy it,” Rodriguez said. “They should, because it’s a game situation.”