Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 8/17/12
TUCSON John Bonano is back where hes most comfortable kicking field goals. That hadnt been the case the first few days of fall practice, as he was nursing a slightly injured right hamstring. I was a little worried that Id be a little rusty coming back, but I kept working everyday and rehabbing it, said Bonano, UAs senior kicker. The important thing is he wasnt far away from his usual routine. While not able to go all out, he was able to take half-steps and follow through with making-contact kicks to stay in rhythm. Hes kicked it pretty well the last couple of days, said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. Last year, Bonano came on the scene late to replace Alex Zendejas and did an admirable job, hitting eight of 12 field goals, including 3 of 4 between 40-49 yards. Youre always going to miss a few kicks, but you have got to make most of (the ones) youre supposed to make, Rodriguez said. In a word, consistency is what Rodriguez is looking in a kicker. You look for a guy who can put it through the goal post, he said. Most of guys like that are ones where the pressure doesnt bother them. (Pressure) situations dont bother them. They kick the same way every day, whether its a practice or a game. It also helps when you have competition. When Bonano sat out the early practices, junior Jake Smith handled the place-kicking duties. But now Smith has missed a couple of days with a minor injury, Rodriguez said. That will be ongoing, Rodriguez said of the competition. John may (have) been a little ahead at the end of spring. But we have a couple more weeks before game time. Rodriguez likes the competition. I wish I had it at every position, he said. Bonano said Smith is doing a great job. It pushes me to go harder. But not hard enough to work on kickoffs. With the injury to the hamstring still limiting him, Bonano has not started to do that, yet. Meet the Team Arizona will have a closed scrimmage on Saturday and a Meet-the-Team function on Sunday. On Thursday, the Wildcats were back on the field for their final two-a-day practices. I think there are hundreds of football teams across the country that are tired of practicing against themselves, Rodriguez said. We have so much work to do and so many guys that are going to be playing for the first time that they need to have a sense of urgency every day and every practice. Thats probably been the biggest thing Ive been preaching every day is to have that sense of urgency, because our seniors certainly have since its their last go around. Familiarization period The Wildcats are about halfway through preseason workouts -- two weeks down and a little more than two weeks left before the season opener against Toledo. I think theyve been pretty coachable, Rodriguez said. I think that when you are in your first year ... every time the coach says something they think its a suggestion but no, were kind of telling you. But after they get to know us, they know the difference between a suggestion and a demand. He did, however, say that his team has been receptive from the start to his coaching. I think weve made some pretty good progress, he said. This team has been a lot of fun to coach because they are hungry. They want to get better. I think our staff has done a good job of reaching out to them. The longer we are around them the more they will understand that all we truly want is the best for them. They just dont know us. But once they get to know us, sure we want to win games, but all we want is for our kids to get the best out of their ability. Our goal is to work them as hard as theyve ever been worked, but treat them as well as theyve ever been treated. Youve got to do both. You cant do one or the other.
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