Bruce Arians was not the only head coach at Arizona Cardinals football practice Wednesday.
Rich Rodriguez, who is in his second year as the head coach at the University of Arizona, made the roughly 103-mile trek to pay a visit to the pro team from up north.
“Got a chance to watch a little bit of a practice, talk to some guys, saw one of our former players (receiver Dan Buckner) and some other guys I know so it’s been good,” Rodriguez said of the experience. “And had a little shade tree, you know that’s nice; we don’t have a shade tree around our practice field, so it gave me some good ideas, too.”
While Rodriguez — along with the assembled media — appreciated the shade, the coach was not in town looking for landscaping ideas.
No, he, along with some of his staff that included defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and offensive coordinator Calvin McGee, was in town to learn.
“It’s our job, as coaches, from a development standpoint, whether it’s watch drill work or how they organize practice or how they structure things,” he said, “because nowadays, particularly in days like [Wednesday] when you don’t have pads on, what can you do to have a productive practice when you don’t have the full pads on?”
The coach, who led the Wildcats to an 8-5 record along with a win in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl last season, said while a lot of teams employ similar concepts, it never hurts to see as much as possible.
Which is why Rodriguez and his staff were in town. Saying it has less to do with increasing a Phoenix-area presence and more with just taking advantage of an opportunity to see how the NFL team does things, the coach said “there is no patent on schemes” so there is always something they could see that would help his team back in the Old Pueblo.
So what, then, stood out to Rodriguez?
“What stood out to me the most is I’d like to have some of those dudes right there, that’s what they’re supposed to look like, right,” he mused. “We’ve got a few good players, but to see 90 of them, the way they’re supposed to look like, that was the first thing that stood out.
“Then the other thing that stood out, obviously from his staff, is you could see everybody’s on the same page, which is what you’d expect, but being his first year and how quickly things have come together, it seems like they’re right on track.”