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Wildcats close out fall camp, prepare to open season at home against UTEP

WILL SEBERGER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona wideout Mike Jefferson (83) tries to break free from cornerback Gary Love during an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday at Arizona Stadium
By Charles Renning
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Monday August 25, 2003

Most UA students moved onto campus at the end of last week, but not the Wildcat football team. Arizona began practicing Aug. 6 and has worked out in 20 practices over 16 days, including five two-a-day practices in that span. The Wildcats closed out fall camp Friday with a light walkthrough, followed by two days off before the team focuses its attention on the season opener Saturday at home against UTEP.

"It's a good feeling to be done (with camp) and start to get ready for the season," said redshirt sophomore quarterback Nic Costa.

Fall camp was an important time for the team to improve its skills and get familiar with the new coaching staff and schemes. The preseason camp was also the first time incoming freshmen were able to work with the team in a practice environment, and head coach John Mackovic said he was impressed with the team's young talent.

"We have some young freshmen that have shown they are ready to play now," he said. "On offense, we have (receiver) Anthony Johnson, (runningback) Chris Henry, (tackle) Peter Graniello and two quarterbacks, Kris Heavner and Richard Kovalcheck. On defense, we have (cornerback) Wilrey Fontenot, (linebacker) Dane Krogstad and (defensive tackle) Clifton Stanford."

Quarterbacks take center stage at camp

Probably the most closely watched part of the fall camp was the battle at quarterback. Costa and redshirt freshman Ryan O'Hara both came into camp looking to earn the job as starter, but Mackovic said both will most likely split time behind the center for the first few games.

"We got a lot done (in camp)," Mackovic said. "We'll be ready for Monday. Our coaches will work all weekend, and we'll have our stuff ready to go."

The Wildcats will prepare for UTEP in practice today and through the rest of the week.

Injury bug stays away from Cats¸so far

UA escaped its preseason workouts with few injuries. The Wildcats had some players sit out the last few days of camp, but Mackovic said they should all be ready to go this week.

Senior running back Clarence Farmer fought through some knee problems throughout camp but looked strong running the ball the last three days of practices.

A pair of offensive linemen, sophomore Tanner Bell and redshirt freshman John Parada, suffered knee injuries early in camp but Bell is expected to return to practice this week. Junior linebacker Kirk Johnson also sustained a knee injury during camp and has missed the last week of practice, while freshman defensive lineman Cedric Coffer underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right leg and will redshirt this season.

Academic woes alter offensive depth

Sophomore running back Beau Carr practiced for the first time Friday after finishing some academic work over the summer. He will have to go through five practices without pads before being able to participate in full contact practices. Carr is eligible to dress out this week, but Mackovic said he would not play.

The Wildcats did lose the services of two players over the summer for academic reasons. Senior receiver Andrae Thurman, along with junior college transfer and defensive tackle David Sharp, will both be ineligible for the upcoming season.

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