One by one, a handful of Arizona Wildcats players walked into the Sands Club to speak with reporters on Tuesday. And nearly all of them stepped in front of the cameras, microphones and recording devices holding bottles of Dasani water.
Subtle product placement? Arizona is a Coca-Cola campus, after all.
Rather, those bottles symbolized a concerted effort to address an issue that impacted several Arizona players during the Week 1 loss to BYU: hydration, or the lack thereof.
Cramping was a significant issue for Arizona in the second half against the Cougars, causing a handful of players—most notably sophomore linebacker Colin Schooler—to leave the field. Schooler missed the final defensive drive, one that saw BYU convert twice on third down to run out the clock in the 28-23 victory.
“The hydration is critical, and we have to be able to manage that as coaches,” Kevin Sumlin said Monday.
Staying hydrated will be even more important for Saturday’s game at Houston. Per Weather.com, the forecast at kickoff is for 87 degrees and 74 percent humidity.
Translation for those who are used to Arizona’s dry heat: it’ll be hot and sticky.
The game is set to begin at 11 a.m. local time, which is 9 a.m. in Tucson, which brings in the issue of “body clocks” that could get thrown off even more by hydration issues.
As a result, Arizona players are loading up on water at every moment leading up to the game. Receiver Tony Ellison said he and his teammates are “kind of forced to drink water all the time” already but the intake for this week figures to be even greater.
“Drink, drink as much water and get a whole bunch of fluids in your body as possible,” running back J.J. Taylor said. “Right now. Start as early as possible.”