Arizona Wildcats Football Training Camp Report: Day 3

The third preseason training saw significant changes, with Arizona players wearing shoulder pads for the first time. This allowed for real contact, especially in the trenches, and also led to many coaches getting upset when something went wrong.

The head coach Jedd FischOffensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Brennan Carroll and tight ends coach Jordan Paopao were particularly boisterous during early work on Friday before calming down and participating in the Wildcats’ first 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 camp drills.

“We put pads on, that was awesome,” Carroll said afterwards. “A great first shot for us.”

As promised, all the snaps before a rushing spell at the end of practice were in the red zone, Arizona’s bugaboo on both sides of the ball in 2021. And while the offense managed a few scores in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, the defense seemed to have the advantage thanks to their experienced secondary.

“The defense did well, we did well, it was balanced,” Carroll said. “They might have more parts, I wasn’t counting, we’ll find out when we watch the movie. We just need a little more consistency, it wasn’t as crisp as we would have liked. But it’s a good improvement. We still have a few days to clean up, but we are light years away from last year. I’m excited because that’s sort of our starting point.

Arizona allowed 35 sacks last season, including several in the red zone, contributing to a dismal touchdown percentage. UCLA transfer Tiaoalii Savea had a cover bag on the quarterback Laura’s Jayden in 11 against 11, during which the offense managed only three TD passes in 14 attempts.

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In 7 against 7, from Laura and Jordan McCloud combined to go 2 for 10 with Laura connecting on tight-end scoring shots Keyan Burnet and slot receiver Jacob Cowing. De Laura also had an interception on an angled pass, with safety Jaydin Young get the pick after linebacker Ammon Allen got his hands on it.

Carroll said getting into the red zone is always more difficult due to the lack of space.

“You can’t throw that far, DBs don’t have to back that far,” he said. “So it’s a great opportunity to run the ball, run with physicality and win close games with the receivers, tight ends opening up. We have to be precise when we go there.

“We are in a great moment right now. We have the whole camp, thank God we have more time.

Swollen training lids

Arizona’s offensive and defensive linemen, as well as linebackers, have used extra head protection in practice so far. Covering their white helmets are padded blue “Guardian caps” that the NFL began using to help reduce concussions.

“We have them for the first seven guys, we kind of follow the NFL on that, trying to take care of the guys,” Carroll said. “It’s just another layer of protection.”

Carroll said they’re especially useful early in practice when fundamentals are the focus and technique may not be sharp and helmet-to-helmet contact is more common.

Left tackle Jordan Morgan never mind the inadvertent headbutts, but he’s still glad to have the extra padding.

“It helps your brain a lot,” he said. “It’s smart for everyone on the inside. I used to bang my head and stuff, but when you hit it you can barely feel it.

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A well deserved rest day

After lasting around 90 or 100 minutes the first two days, Friday’s practice lasted over two hours. There is no practice Saturday, which allows the Wildcats to go longer.

Training camp resumes Sunday at 10 a.m. PT, the first of three more consecutive days of training (with full pads coming Tuesday) before another day off. A 4-day training session will follow which will include the first scrum on August 13.

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