Rich Rod pleased w ‘Cats spring progress

When Rich Rodriguez was hired by the University of Arizona back in November, he had really no idea what his 2012 team would look like.

With spring workouts concluding this weekend, Rich Rod has gotten a little better idea of his teams strengths and weaknesses heading into the fall.

Obviously I thought the first spring would be the toughest,” Rodriguez told Brad Cesmat Thursday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “It was ugly at times and we still have a long way to go, but the attitude has been terrific. It’s been very, very productive.”

The ‘Cats, coming off a 4-8 season a year ago, will feature a much different look on both sides of the ball this season.

Offensively, the 6’5 Nick Foles leaves big shoes to fill both literally and figuratively. Foles, expected to be a high draft pick in this month’s draft, will likely be replaced by duel-threat senior Matt Scott.

“[He’s] had a very good spring,” Rodriguez said to Cesmat. “He’s the only experienced guy…we’ve got a lot of work to do.

UofA does return some experience and plenty of talent in the backfield in sophomore-to-be Kadeem Carey who rushed for 425 yards and six scores. The Tucson native also caught 15 passes for 203 yards and two scores.

Defensively, the Cats can’t get much worse than they were a year ago when they gave up over 35 points a game, ranking 107th nationally in points allowed. The secondary should be vastly improved with Goodyear Millennium heavy hitter Marquis Flowers and fellow safety Adam Hall from Palo Verde High both in the mix. The juniors can each make plays against the run and pass.

Looking ahead, Rodriguez sounded cautiously optimistic heading into his first season in Tucson.

“We’re not going to be able to overwhelm anybody, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win games and have a lot of success, as well.”

With Arizona Stadium in the midst of renovations, Saturday’s 1 p.m. scrimmage will be held at Kino Stadium in south Tucson.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.