TUCSON, Ariz. — Sometimes a football team needs some little reminders.
A few yells here and there. A media lockdown. And, when the situation warrants, a team meeting.
They are called attention-getters. And Rich Rodriguez felt all were appropriate this week for his Arizona team, despite its 35-0 win over Northern Arizona in last week’s season opener.
“Like I tell them,” Rodriguez said, “I have two major rules: Don’t embarrass the program and do your best. I think sometimes they don’t realize they are not doing their best. Sometimes you have to give them reminders.”
Rodriguez is looking for effort and attitude – all the time.
“The attitude is good and the effort is good for the most part, but we are pretty demanding on that,” Rodriguez said after Wednesday’s practice. “Some coaches believe you shouldn’t have to coach effort all the time. I’m a little different. I look for it every time we go to practice. When you go live in practice and in the games, I want their best.”
Practice was much improved on Wednesday as the Wildcats prepare for their first road game on Saturday against UNLV. Rodriguez kind of even joked about it to start his meeting with the media.
“I’m talking to you guys so it had to be a little bit better, right?” Rodriguez said, quickly apologizing to the media for not making himself or anyone available on Tuesday. “It was a little better. We had a good, long meeting today.”
Without going into detail, Rodriguez said he doesn’t like team meetings because they can last too long, but “we got some things straightened out.” He said the meeting lasted 30 minutes.
Junior defensive back Tra’Mayne Bondourant said the team “made sure we went hard” on Wednesday. The day before, he admitted, the team looked a bit “gloomy, tired … but we also know we are not that type of team.
“We knew it was time to turn it up,” he said. “We have a game this week. It’s not a bye. There were small things we needed to fix, and we did.”
Rodriguez said having the team meeting this early in the season wasn’t a big surprise.
“It usually happens early and usually several times during the season,” he said.
Rodriguez said senior running back Daniel Jenkins will start ahead of junior All-American Ka’Deem Carey on Saturday “because he’s earned that start,” but Carey will see playing time in the first half. Jenkins had 139 yards, 91 coming on a TD run, in last week’s win. … Rodriguez said freshman defensive lineman Luca Bruno is going through some NCAA Clearinghouse issues, and he’s ” hopeful but doubtful’ Bruno will be cleared to play on Saturday.”