Rich Rodriguez is not a fan of preseason depth charts.
Rodriguez, now entering his sixth year coaching the Arizona Wildcats, discussed said charts and assorted odds and ends ahead of Saturday’s season opener against Northern Arizona on Monday.
Among the topics discussed were Rodriguez’s thoughts on everything from the school’s planned “Gronk” bobblehead giveaway on Saturday to the ongoing quarterback competition and injury report ahead of the intrastate battle.
Rodriguez told reporters that several players, including redshirt senior linebacker DeAndre’ Miller, as well as tackle Bryson Cain and tight end Jamie Nunley will likely miss Saturday’s game. Sophomore safety Isaiah Hayes is banged up, too, but Rodriguez said he may suit up against NAU.
The full injury report will be released Friday.
“We’ve got a whole lot to prove,” Rodriguez said. “I told the guys last week, ‘Everybody’s going to talk about what you did last year until you start playing games. And once you start playing games they’ll talk about what’s going on right now.’ And that starts on Saturday night at 8 p.m.”
Rodriguez also spent the opening part of Monday’s press conference tempering expectations based on the team’s initial depth chart, correcting the chart’s prognosis of junior college transfer Dereck Boles supplanting fifth-year senior Luca Bruno at nose tackle.
He also downplayed the chart’s listing of quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate as co-starters behind center (the full depth chart with additional notes can be found here).
“Not as much as maybe you all would like to put into it,” Rodriguez said of the depth chart. “It will start to clear up a little bit. We’ve been practicing six quarterbacks and have whittled that down over the past few weeks to four that we’re trying to get ready.”
Rodriguez expressed confidence that both Dawkins and Tate have what it takes to succeed this fall, and that the team’s youthful defense should be fun to watch as well.
He compared this year’s class of freshman linebackers to the freshman class of 2012, which was highlighted by Scooby Wright III.
Rodriguez talked of how impressed he was by how quickly this year’s freshman class has matured defensively, which he attributed to the work put in by his coaching staff.
“We thought coming into fall camp that we’d have some competition at linebacker and in the secondary with the young guys,” Rodriguez said. “And they’ve given us that and then some.”
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