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Arizona football training camp report: Day 1

arizona-wildcats-football-preseason-practice-report-fisch-spam-delaura-grass-redzone-2022-pac12 Arizona Athletics

With mostly morning practices during the preseason, Arizona is hoping to avoid both the extreme midday heat and Tucson’s summer rainstorms. It went 1 for 2 on Day 1 of training camp.

A light rain fell at the outset of Arizona’s first workout Wednesday morning, with the clouds going away for the second half of the 100-minute practice. Despite the access to an indoor field, though, the team trained outside the entire time with most of the activity on a second grass field set up just south of the beach volleyball courts.

Expect the Wildcats to spend most of camp on those outdoor fields, coach Jedd Fisch said, as the UA prepares for a season opener Sept. 3 at San Diego State that will be played on grass.

“I think grass is the advantage, (to) be on grass as much as you possibly can be on grass,” he said. “Feels better on your legs, it feels better on your body. A beautiful playing surface.”

Arizona Stadium has new turf for 2022, but it’s artificial like the one that’s been in there since 2013. Asked if he would have liked the game field to be grass, Fisch made it seem like that wasn’t possible.

“That wasn’t a situation that we really had an option with,” he said.

Beyond the surface itself, having access to a second outdoor field (and third overall) can help Arizona with its plan to split up the team often in order to get more reps for more players.

“It opens up practice,” Fisch said. “You get a little better sense of being able to talk through kind of like hey, this is what the top programs have, these are the two big grass fields, the indoor facility and just continue to build that up with our guys. And let them understand that the more we can give them, the better they’re going to be.”

The first practice wasn’t heavy on live plays, with players going with helmets only, and probably won’t be until next week when the team is in full pads. Fisch said shoulder pads can be added in the third workout, on Friday, with full pads coming Tuesday in practice #6.

All red zone, all the time

Arizona only used the extreme edges of its fields Wednesday, working exclusively in the red zone in its effort to improve in that area. Last year the Wildcats were historically bad on both sides of the ball, scoring touchdowns on less than 31 percent of red-zone possessions while giving up TDs more than 76 percent of the time.

“We lived the whole morning in it, we’ll live the whole morning in it for the next four days,” Fisch said. “We haven’t been in the (middle of the) field once. We won’t be in the field at all for the next four days. Everything we’ll be doing inside the 25-yard line.”

To spam (and eggs) or not to spam

For as much time as Fisch spent recruiting quarterback Noah Fifita and his Servite High School teammates last year, there’s one staple of that group that he managed to avoid: spam and eggs.

A common breakfast dish in Hawaii and within the Polynesian community, it’s also part of the Twitter bio for Fifita’s mother, Winnona (aka @mrsFeef). But it’s apparently not for Fisch.

“I did not get any spam and eggs, and I’m not planning on having any spam and eggs,” he said.

He’s missing out, says quarterback Jayden de Laura, a Hawaiian native who said he grew up on it.

“If you come from Hawaii, people say it’s poor man food but that’s like our everyday food,” he said.

Other notables

  • Running back DJ Williams, a transfer from Florida State who began his career at Auburn, will be at practice Thursday after missing the first workout. Fisch said that was due to Williams’ final grade at FSU in order to graduate not posting until Wednesday morning.
  • Cornerbacks coach DeWayne Walker sure has a type when it comes to the kind of players he likes. 2022 signees Ephesians Prysock and Tacario Davis are 6-foot-3 with long arms.
  • Redshirt freshman Kolbe Cage, who only appeared in the Territorial Cup last season, is in the mix to start at inside linebacker.