Aug. 1, 2007 10:18 PM
"I promise you I will be OK," said the junior, who suffered a serious concussion in the second week of last season. "I'm not worried, not at all. I'm ready to go."
And he's ready to air it out.
Tuitama won't waste any time warming up his arm on the first day of fall practice at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at the Rincon Vista Complex. UA has a month to sharpen its new spread passing offense before opening at BYU on Sept. 1.
"As soon as we get off the bus, we are going to be throwing the ball all over the place," UA receiver Terrell Turner said Wednesday when veterans officially reported.
Everything starts with the 6-foot-3, 206-pound Tuitama.
The Wildcats were not the same team without him after he sustained a concussion at LSU on Sept. 9. That injury, and subsequent hits to the head against UCLA and ASU, caused him to miss much of five games.
Tuitama will continue to use the special helmet with extra protection that he donned at the end of last season.
"I'm still wearing the big boy. I'm good," Tuitama said.
The Wildcats have made it no secret they are going to drop back in the pocket more.
UA threw 70 passes among its 93 plays in its final spring game, and had 55 throws in the first scrimmage under new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes.
Tuitama got together with his young receiving unit Tuesday and let his intentions be known.
"I told them from the start we need to set the tempo for the offense," Tuitama said. "We should be able to go out there and air it out and torch our defense. That is our goal every day when we get on the field. We have to start right away."
There's no reason to wait.
The receivers are eager to get the ball. Junior Mike Thomas is talking about catching 80 or 90 passes this year.
Turner is welcoming the pressure being placed on the passing game as UA's attempts to upgrade an offense that ranked 115th nationally at 252 yards per game.
"Bring it on," Turner said, all smiles. "The weight is on us to get the job done like we are supposed to do."
It won't take much improvement to get the Wildcats better in the passing attack. UA threw for just nine TDs with 14 interceptions last year.
The Cats were 93rd nationally in passing offense, averaging 168.7 yards per game. Averaging only 16.6 points per game won't cut it, and they know it.
"We have a lot to prove. We were ranked at the bottom of the stats," Turner said. "People think we are only going to be a defensive team, but we're going to put some points on the board."