’This has been completely different’ Wildcat’s return to practice for shortened season

UA first football practice

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - “It really felt like football for the first time.”

Those are the words of Arizona Wildcat’s quarterback Grant Gunnell after wrapping up his first night practicing on Friday.

“Going against defense I can’t help but smile right now it was awesome," said Gunnell in a after-practice press conference.

The team was out for a short practice Friday. It was the really first time the players were 11-on-11 and 7-on-7, lining up against each other in formation after months.

Gunnell said it’s been a weird ride watching the season start and then get cancelled again, now he hopes the 7 game seasons goes off without a hitch.

“We would get going and it would seem like the season would start, and we’re doing walk throughs, and then we’re shut off. Then we did go on again and the season was cancelled and then get going again, I just hope it sticks," said Gunnell.

Coach Sumlin watched from the virtual sidelines due to his COVID-19 diagnosis but said he’s happy with how the team looked.

“We wanted to get the reps in, we wanted to teach, but I think because of the individual drills and walk throughs and zoom meetings. I was pleased with how we aligned,” said Sumlin.

This comes as a few players opted out of the season including Darrius “Bam” Smith and JB Brown. Meanwhile, Coach Sumlin said Jalen Johnson was suspended for violating team policies. Still they’re moving forward, keeping up with COVID protocols so no other players are lost due to illness.

“It’s a different system and a different way to do things just the way everything’s been for the last month right?" said Sumlin.

It’s just among the many things different this season, not to mention under Pac 12 rules to play- no fans will be sitting in the stadium cheering on the Wildcats. Something players will miss, but not let mess with their game.

″I’m definitely going to miss hearing the crowd being loud out there after touchdowns," said Gunnell. “And the crowd after 3rd downs stuff like that.”

Coach Sumlin said, Friday, he has an assessment with a doctor Saturday since he’s nearing the end of his quarantine period. If all goes well, and he says he’s feeling well, he hopes to be back at practice come Monday.

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