A common refrain this time of year is how meaningful bowl games and the extra allotment of practices that comes with them are for getting a head start on the next season.
Arizona wide receiver Austin Hill, an All Pac-12 performer in 2012, missed the entire 2013 regular season after tearing his ACL in the spring. However, Hill is working his way back, telling The Tucson Citizen he is "75 or 80 percent" as the Wildcats prepare for their AdvoCare V100 Bowl date against Boston College.
Hill may or may not play—head coach Rich Rodriguez is non-committal so far—but he's reestablishing himself for 2014 nonetheless. More importantly, Hill is developing chemistry working alongside new additions to the offense since he last played.
With the 1364 yards and 11 touchdowns of production Hill had in 2012 unavailable for 2013, Rodriguez turned over much of the passing attack's responsibility to true freshmen Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant. The two first-year wide receivers will again be integral to the Wildcats' offense next season, but the small speedsters will have a big, reliable target with which to operate.
These few extra weeks with Hill back at practice are important in establishing the chemistry that will be the framework for Arizona's passing offense.
Up I-10 in Tempe, Ariz., Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is extolling the virtues of bowl practices for his underclassmen who will take up the mantle of a Pac-12 South-winning team that loses several seniors.
"For them, 2014 starts today," Graham told Fox Sports Arizona.
Arizona plays Dec. 31. Arizona State plays Dec. 30. That translate to almost a month of additional practices. But with the proliferation of the bowl season to 35 games spanning three weeks, the postseason starts earlier almost every year.
Washington State plays in the first bowl game of the 2013 postseason, taking on Colorado State in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl. The Cougars' postseason prep time is abbreviated, but as linebackers coach Ken Wilson told The Spokesman-Review
It was really a chance for us to get some Spring Football in with those guys. This has been the chance for us to get them in position meetings and go over the base stuff and watch it on the field, watch them in extended reps and see what we’ve got out there.