TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona opened spring football practice on Monday, and attention quickly turned to auditions for seven candidates attempting to replace B.J. Denker as the starting quarterback.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez said the coaching staff would not "sacrifice tempo" in order to provide extra teaching time.
"They’ve got to learn at our pace," Rodriguez said. "Most of those quarterbacks have been around long enough to know that they have to learn at a faster pace. They did OK today."
Rodriguez said there was plenty of time in spring drills for all the candidates to get sufficient reps and be evaluated.
He cited Jesse Scroggins, Anu Solomon, Connor Brewer and Nick Isham as all being more familiar with the system.
"It’s wide open. Truly, I don’t know, and I don’t expect us to have a particular pecking order done by the spring, but I would hope that there are at least two or three that we feel we could win with these guys," Rodriguez said.
Junior college transfer Jerrard Randall understandably has a steeper learning curve.
"He’s like when the guys first get here, he’s going 100 miles an hour," Rodriguez said. "He can throw (the ball) through a pane glass window but everything is moving fast, his eyes, his feet, his mind. It’ll slow down for him as spring goes on."
Developing team speed and strength continues to be a focus. He graded the team at "probably a seven" in speed, compared with five last year, but is more concerned with the stength component. "I just told them from an upper body strength, we are woefully weak," he said. "We were weak last year and weaker the year before that. We are stronger, but not where we have to be."
Rodriguez said that receiver Austin Hill, who missed last season while recovering from a torn ACL, is "100 percent, doing everything. … I like the way he looks and the way he’s running around. There’s no hesitation whatsoever."