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Monday Press Conference Transcript
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/19/2012
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Nov. 19, 2012

TUCSON – University of Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez and select players met with media members at a weekly press conference on Monday. Below is a brief transcript.

Head Coach Rich Rodriguez

On preparing for the rivalry game:

“We prepare for every game with the same focus and intensity, and we’ll be doing the same against Arizona State. After I got hired, I heard about the rivalry from all the fans and alumni during the off-season. We’re really just treating this game like any other game, but of course, there will be a lot more attention because of the rivalry.”

On having a different approach to rivalry games:

“I think every game is pretty much the same. They are all really important. The attention for rivalry games probably occurs more in the off-season but I don’t have a particular philosophy when preparing for rivalry games.”

On Arizona State’s offense:

“I have been really impressed. They have some really talented players, and they are big up front. Their quarterback plays extremely well. They do some similar stuff that we do along with different things. They have deep pass plays, play action stuff, and run-pass stuff where you think the quarterback is running then throw it out late to the wide receiver or slot receiver. They do shifts, motions and have different formations. In a really short week, we have a lot of work to do on defense.”

On Arizona State’s defensive approach:

“They blitz a lot, I think it is over 50 percent of the time that they bring pressure, but they also bring pressure without blitzing. In the last game, they had a three-man rush which brought a lot of pressure. They have great defensive players like Will Sutton, who is a potential first-round draft pick. They are a big pressure team. They are able to get pressure without bringing extra guys and that is a big concern for us.”

On Ka’Deem Carey being the top rusher in the nation:

“He has had a good year. We thought coming into the season that he was one of our offensive weapons. We hoped that he would be one of the best backs in the league. He has not only played well in the run game but he has also played really well in the pass game. He also blocks very well and takes a lot of pride in his pass protection. He’s had a phenomenal year, and he’ll keep getting better. He showed a lot of toughness on Saturday because he wasn’t 100 percent.”

On interaction with the seniors:

“I met the seniors individually in the beginning of the season as each one came into my office for me to get to know them a little bit. They are a good group of guys. I like their attitude and their willingness to listen and learn. If you are a senior and not playing much, there are a whole lot different ways that you can go with your attitude and behavior. You could go into buying the team concept, or you could go the other way and be a detriment. Our guys have chosen to go the right way, and even the ones that do not play, they are bought into the program. Their attitudes have been really good. The seniors have been great leaders, and their leadership has really helped us to transition. There are different levels of buying in. You can buy in with everything you got, or you can kind of buy in if it’s only self-serving for you. You can buy in half-heartedly if you are not really into it. A part of this transition has been a little bit of educating them on what we want this year but also what we want for a program. We are trying to build a program not a team, and we have tried to keep that our focus. Sometimes, seniors can have a tendency to look on the outside but we have been fortunate to make steps as a program while the seniors have been all in.”

On Arizona State’s Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez’s interaction with him:

“We saw each other at a couple events up in Phoenix. I don’t have a whole lot of interaction with a lot of people other than the people who I work with every day. It is just the way that the coaching profession is. I hired him at West Virginia because I knew him from the recruiting trail. We were also starting something new at West Virginia, and he did a good job. After two years, he moved on and started to become a head coach shortly after that.”

On the Arizona fans:

“The fans make this rivalry so unique. This rivalry is also unique because it is in-state. A lot of fans say if you win one game, win the ASU game. It’s a huge game, and it always will be regardless of who is sitting here.”

On coaching experience in the first year:

“I enjoy coaching these guys. You never really know what you have until you start coaching them. We had a lot of concerns coming in, and I still have those concerns. But I like the way that our players have responded. There have been instances on the field when I’ve said, ‘this is tough’, because some of the guys are trying their best but they can’t play the way that we want them to because they’re either young or not experienced enough. From a coaching standpoint, it’s fun to coach a bunch of guys that care about each other and the program.”

On whether or not he can make a self-evaluation:

“I leave that up to other people. I would hope that our players and staff are always consumed with what is next. The only time that I’ve really reflected a whole lot about coaching during my 20-plus years was last year when I was broadcasting. When you’re broadcasting you don’t care who wins. It’s the first time that I was able to reflect and say I wish I had done this different or done that better. Now, I’m back in the coach mode asking myself what is next. Right now, it’s practice in a couple of hours. However, there are times when we do self-evaluate. Starting next week and after the bowl game, we will do exhausting evaluations of everything that we are doing in the program: offense, defense, special teams, procedures, and recruiting. I’ll evaluate all of that.”

On John Bonano’s consistency:

“He had a good game against Utah. He was 2-for-2 and made all of extra points. He had a couple of really good kick-offs and a couple that weren’t as good. John has been solid. Kyle (Dugandzic) has been solid all year too. In the first half of the season, there were a couple of times that technique or fundamentally, it wasn’t perfect. I see John every day in practice and I think he is solid. He’s got a strong leg. He may have kicked the longest of the year. He can kick it from 50 in normal conditions. He’s consistent in practice, so I think he is pretty good.”

On quarterback Matt Scott’s performance:

“I thought Matt was good. He wasn’t his sharpest. He missed some throws that he’s made all years. He was really sharp in the run game. He ran until he threw up. He made good decisions there. He made some really big third-down throws. One in particular was for a touchdown and particularly sharp. Matt had two or three runs where he was running out of bounds and after the third run you could tell by the way he was running and bobbing that he was a little bit tired. There was a timeout and break in the action and I asked Matt if he was tired and he said ‘hell yeah.’ We run our quarterback in practice but running in practice and running in games full speed is different. Condition is a big deal for him but he’s in good shape.”

On maintaining composure during the ASU game:

“There’s going to be a lot of intensity. This shouldn’t be a game where I have to do all of the motivational tactics to get guys excited. It’s a rivalry game, an in-state game and a conference game. Everything is in place. This should be easy to motivate. On the flip side, we have to be able to keep our poise and composure because there is going to be a lot of intensity out there. That goes back to being disciplined and not making selfish decisions that will hurt your team.”

On how physical Shaquille Richardson was:

“I thought Shaq played more aggressively Saturday overall, both in the run and pass game. That is what we needed. Many times he wasn’t as aggressive as he could have been on the perimeter. I thought in last game he was a bit more aggressive in the corner position.”

On the status of Jonathan McKnight:

“He is banged up a little bit, so are a lot of guys. He’s been doing that all year. I don’t know if he’s been 100 percent in a week all season. The offseason is going to be huge. He isn’t a real big guy anyways. He’s around 175 pounds or something. There’s a lot of weight room work we have to do in the offseason.

Sophomore Running Back Ka’Deem Carey

On memories of the rivalry growing up:

“It’s a big game, and it’s a big deal to bring the Territorial Cup home.”

On being the nation’s top rusher:

“It feels good to know all the hard work has paid off and my dreams are coming true.”

On thinking about the possibility of breaking the school’s rushing and touchdown record at the beginning of the year:

“Always at the beginning of the year, a player has high goals and expectations. To know I met my goals feels good.”

On improving his ability to see blocks and open lanes:

“Coach (Calvin) Magee has helped all the running backs to see the cutback lanes. My vision in seeing the cutback lane has improved because Coach Magee has worked with us on seeing those open lanes all year. Because I’m seeing those lanes, I’m starting to break those 20 to 30 yard runs.”

On his physical health against Utah and presently:

“My collarbone was hurting a little during the Utah game and there was a little pain in my knee. But these small injuries are part of a long season, especially at the running back position. Getting to 100 percent against Arizona State is the key for this week.”

On running against ASU:

“They’re going to come at me with more than 100% so I have to be ready for that.”

On committing to Arizona over Arizona State:

“That’s a great school up there but there’s nothing better than being a Wildcat at the end of the day. The red and blue fits me. This is my hometown.”

On Friday’s red helmets:

“I love them. I think it’s a great thing that we get to wear them out there against ASU. It brings that much more to the rivalry”

On playing for the seniors:

“Last year playing up there, making sure we got the win, just seeing the looks on the seniors’ faces was unforgettable. You can’t replace something like that. To keep (the Territorial Cup) here for these seniors is just as important. I think that’s big for the team. I’m going to go out there and play my hardest for them. Hopefully we get the win at home.”

Junior Running Back Daniel Jenkins

On the visiting team winning the Territorial game the past three meetings:

“The crowd gives the home team advantage but coming in as the road team, the away team knows that they have to prepare harder.”

On the key to develop vision for cutback lanes and seeing blocks:

“Repetition is what develops vision. Every week, Coach Magee always goes over where the holes in the defense are and all the tendencies of linebackers.”

On buying into Coach Rodriguez’s system:

“He did a great job of getting everyone on board and everybody bought in on day one. That’s why everybody is still together as a unit. Coach Rodriguez has done a great job.”

On keeping composure:

“We just need to work this week and keep the main thing the main thing. We can’t let distractions get to us. We’ll be fine. We will stay focused and be ready.” On ASU: “It’s a rivalry game, so it’ll probably come down to close plays. It’s going to be a good game. They’re going to play hard and we’ll be ready, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Junior Defensive Lineman Tevin Hood

On playing against his brother, Jaxon Hood, this Friday:

“I’m just treating this game like any other game but there is a different intensity since it is a rivalry game. This will be the first time that I will play against my brother. I never played against or with him but I’m not going out of my way to say anything to my brother. My Dad will root for Arizona since he was raised in Tucson. My two youngest brothers will also root for the Arizona but the rest of my family will be rooting for Arizona State.”

On memories of the Territorial game growing up:

“I didn’t play football until high school but I have watched this game since I was young, and my Dad made a huge deal out of it. The Territorial Cup is one of the oldest rivalries in the history of college football.”

The Wildcats will wrap the regular season and host the Sun Devils of ASU in the Territorial Cup on Fri., Nov. 23. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. MT and the game will air nationally on ESPN.

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