Oct. 15, 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 evaluating the benefits of the bye week in Sunday's practice:
"We probably needed more time. We had around 13 starters that were out last week and six or seven of them didn't play in the last game. With one more week, I'm hoping we can get a couple of them back. They should be hungry to play a game. Our guys' focus has been good all year. But like I said we needed this probably a couple of weeks ago. We'll take it when we can get it."
On beginning the next part of the season with a 3-3 record:
"It's not a clean slate as much as it is the second half. The first half is over. There were some good and some bad and now we're in the second half. Every conference game is really important. Our guys understand that."
On what he has learned from the first half of the season:
"Particularly in the first year, every week we learn something new about our guys. In particular when you have guys that are injured and have in guys playing that weren't in the starting role earlier and you're not exactly sure how they're going to play or what their strengths or weaknesses are. You have to adjust accordingly. Our jobs as coaches are to try to adjust to the strengths of what guys are playing and play those strengths. It's a challenge because this is still our first season. As a coaching staff, I took a little bit of time to evaluate the first half of the season and to try to think about what we can do better for the second half."
On his self-evaluation:
"Most of the things that we struggled with or had problems with were not surprising. It wasn't anything that was really surprising, positive or negative, particularly negative. Some issues we had, we knew we had coming in. Then, you get a few guys banged up or hurt it kind of magnifies that. You're always going to have some bad luck. You have to come in and think this can happen or that can happen and know it can be kind of tough. We plan for it, but we don't want to deal with it but we've dealt with it, and our guys have been okay with that."
On the challenges of the job:
"I think you always find out things, both good and bad, when you come into a new job. That's been the case every place I've been. Is there a lot more work to do? Probably. I doubt every coach comes in highly optimistic and thinks to themselves it's not going to be too hard and after a few weeks or months or a year in you realize it is. There is nothing I have seen that discourages me or anybody on our staff that we can't build the best program in America. I'm as optimistic today as I was when I took this job nine or ten months ago that we are going to make it happen. In fact, I'm even more excited about it now."
On the desire to do too much during a bye week:
"I think there is, but for us that was tempered pretty quick because of the injury factor. We'd like to do this and that, but we have to remember that there are guys playing that we didn't anticipate being in this role, so that forced us to slow down and try not to add too much stuff. That's been the case all year for us really. It, in some ways, has probably helped us."
On Washington's intimidation factor:
"I think you have to treat them as team that is going to be ranked by the end of the season. They've beaten a ranked team. They're without a doubt one of the most athletic teams in our league. (Head Coach Steve Sarkisian) and the rest of their guys are really excited, and they should be, with where they're at right now. Keith Price is as good as any athlete. They have some of the best skilled players in the league. They have a very athletic defense. Our guys can see that on film. You can paint whatever picture you want, but when you see them on TV or on film you know they're good."
On similarities between Arizona QB Matt Scott and Washington QB Keith Price:
"I think they're similar in a lot of ways. We're throwing more, a lot more than anyone probably imagined. I think they are similar in that they are very competitive guys. Their offense is built around what they do and their strengths. In that case, they are very similar. But Matt is an older guy. Keith has been around a couple years, but Matt has been here five years, and he is playing like a veteran."
On Washington's limitations due to injuries:
"Everyone goes through it somehow. Injuries always happen. What you don't want to happen is for them to all be in one position. That's when it really hurts you, when it hits one particular position whether it is on offense or defense, that's when you get tested. That's when your unfortunate luck comes in. They have a few guys hurt, but I don't know their exact numbers. Keith Price is still there, and they have their big tight ends and their receivers. They're a pretty talented group."
On how to stop Washington's tight end:
"We've had problems with it this year just from a size standpoint. Everyone knows that we are not a very big team defensively. We have struggled with some big, tall physical receiver tight end types. We just have to try to put pressure on the quarterback and mix up the coverages a little bit. You have to make a play on the ball."
On Taimi Tutogi playing both ways:
"Yes, I think he is doing enough right now (defensively). We made the move by necessity, and the necessity is still there. We have not been able to give him the ball much on offense because he has played a lot more defensively than we had planned. Taimi is able to handle the load mentally but now, it is if he can handle it physically with 30 plays on defense and doing the same on offense, we are going to find that out. It is a great opportunity for him, he likes it. I think he is excited about doing both."
On red zone defense:
"Our numbers aren't great defensively, but we knew coming in it was going to be tough. I think our defensive staff is doing an outstanding job, with a lot of guys with roles and positions that nobody, even us, had anticipated so I think it is the same as everywhere else, you just got to make the play down in there. The defensive staff is doing a good job in trying to feel their way through it. When they go out there our expectations are that they play at a high level. No matter who it is, whether a freshman or the guys who have never played before when you are out there we try to make sure we get good production out of them. They try hard and in moments they have played pretty good."
Junior Linebacker Jake Fischer
On his expectations for the second half of the season:
"Our expectations are the same. We expect to go out and play as hard as we can. Defensively, the last couple of games we didn't do what we wanted to, but having the week off, it helped us to regroup and focus. It helped us to rest our injured players, and it just gave all of us time to rest. We'd like to come back in full strength, and our goals and expectations haven't changed. We still have a chance to win the Pac-12 South. It all starts with the next game, so we're looking forward to playing against Washington."
On adjusting to the different playing styles of quarterbacks in Pac-12:
"It's really not that different. We want to keep doing the same things we been trying to do all year. We have to get pressure up front, and we can't leave the back end out to dry like we have been doing the past few games; that's not entirely the defensive line's fault, the linebackers have responsibility as well. We haven't been able to blitz and put pressure on quarterbacks, and that comes down on all of us. We just have to do our job, and we can't give quarterbacks lanes to run on and give them first downs whenever they want to. We have to close down pockets, take away passing lanes and we can go from there."
On covering Washington's tight ends:
"We have to try to get a couple of guys on them when they are in route. Whoever is covering him, he has to go as hard as he can. In the last game against Stanford, we played their tight ends very well. They just made some plays on us, but we just have to do what we did against Stanford which is don't make it easy for them. We can't let them get out of tackles and wrap up because their tight ends can play."
On improving defensive red zone performance:
"The past couple of games there were a few times if a guy did his job we would have got a stop. Teams have put in a few wrinkles against us, but all we need to do is fulfill our responsibilities. There is a definitely an emphasis on our red zone performance in practices and a focus to improve."
Sophomore Running Back Ka'Deem Carey
On the benefit of a bye week:
"A week off is great, especially for resting your body and to watch game tape on Washington. The bye week was needed especially as a running back because it helped me get off my feet, relax my mind and to get ready for the next game. "
On looking at the bye week as halftime of the season:
"Halftime is when you rejuvenate, get ready for the second half and give it all you got. This is exactly what we needed, especially our bye week being in the middle of the season. Now we just have to go out for the second half of the season and finish strong."
On getting 25 carries and targets a game:
"When you get that many carries and targets consistently, it just puts you in a routine. The more first downs you get, the more offense you get, it just makes me keep going; I love it. It's rough waking up the next morning, but that's football."
On wearing down defenses in the second half of games:
"It's Coach Rodriguez's offense, it wears you down. In the second half, I can see defensive players putting their hands on their hips, but that's when I tell Matt (Scott), `let's go, let's have some fun and play football'. The stats show that we're wearing teams down in the second half."
On improving the offensive red zone performance:
"Every time we go into the red zone during practice, I tell my teammates, `hey, we're in the red zone, let's get a touchdown'. Coach Rodriguez makes that clear during practice that we have to get into the end zone when we are in the red zone."
Sophomore Jonathan McKnight
On Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant:
"Trufant is a good corner. He can definitely play in the next level, too. He has a good size for a cornerback and the way he plays makes him one of the best cornerbacks in the Pac-12."
On preparing for Washington quarterback Keith Price:
"The game plan for this week is going to be different because Price is a quarterback that only doesn't throw but runs at the same time. The game plan will be different compared to our other weeks, but our coaches will prepare us and give us a nice game plan come Saturday."
On their defensive performance in the red zone:
"We have to work harder in our red zone defense. We have to practice harder, and as a player, we are the ones that make the mistakes on the field. Coaches give us the game plan, and we just got to perform the way our coaches prepare us."
Arizona football will travel to take on Washington on Sat., Oct. 20 at Arizona Stadium. The game is scheduled to air on Pac-12 Networks at 7 p.m. PT.