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Monday Press Conference Transcript
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 10/22/2012
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 22, 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

Opening Statement:

“After reviewing film, I thought there were some really good moments. And some other moments where we certainly could have played better. I thought our guys were more reenergized after the open date. They played hungry and it was a nice win. With that being said, we refocused in last night’s short walk through on USC and our guys know what a challenge it is. It should be a great atmosphere and hopefully we have a sellout and our fans can give us a boost. It’s a great challenge for our guys. Hopefully we can come out and play well for four quarters.”

On USC Quarterback Matt Barkley:

“I think he’s everything that is right about college athletics and college football. To me, he should be one of the leading contenders for the Heisman. He’s one of the best players in the history of the Pac-12. He looks like a tremendous leader. From what I hear about him, he’s everything you’d want all your players to emulate. I think he’s an example for our league and for their program to show future guys what college football is about.”

On troubles defending tight ends:

“Isn’t it amazing in our league the quality of the tight ends? I don’t think there’s another league that is close to having the type of tight ends, the athletes, and the skilled position players that the Pac-12 has. Our guys have tried. Sometimes we’re there to make the plays and sometimes we’re not. It helps if you can get pressure on the quarterback. That’s been our issue at times. In the last game, we did a better job of that. I don’t think one guy can do it because they’re so big. If you put a couple of guys on him there is one less guy putting pressure on the quarterback. I think you have to mix it up. The biggest key is putting pressure on the quarterback without exploding yourself so one-on-one coverages can come with a lot of blitzes.”

On Derrick Rainey at cornerback:

“Looking at the numbers, Derrick Rainey and Shaquille Richardson played about the same number of plays, which is a good thing because we had talked about those guys playing too many plays. I thought he played solid. We are going to need that going forward.”

On the evaluation of protection from offensive line:

“We haven’t been able to have a consistent five guys in the same position all year because of injury. I think the guys have competed. We really played six guys, the starters plus (Cayman) Bundage a true freshman, and they hung in there and battled. We didn’t throw the ball as much because we were running a bit. I’m proud of the way they hung in there. We still have a long way to go up front. At some point, we’d like to get Kyle (Quinn) and Trace (Biskin) back. I’m not sure when, but certainly when we get them back, the other guys will have played enough football to get some experience.”

On the injury situation:

“It’s a little better just because it’s a week later. It’s not a whole lot better. We’ll find out how much Jared and Trace and maybe even Kyle can work this week. We’ve missed them. They’re really good players. They’re probably our two best offensive linemen and one of our best defensive players. It’s good to get a win without them. We’re a better football team when we’re healthy.”

On having a low margin of error:

“The margin of error is very thin. When we have a chance to get a play like we did on special teams or get a turnover on defense, to us, it’s really important for us to take advantage of it. Our offense has been pretty efficient for the most part. When we get a turnover right after the half or get a surprise score from Richard Morrison on the punt return, from a mental standpoint it’s good but it’s also very big from a confidence standpoint. I don’t think our guys on offense worry about having to score every time because that’s their mindset anyways. When we get to flip the field from a turnover standpoint it makes a key difference for us.”

On Richard Morrison staying confident:

“I’m not overly concerned with our guys on that perspective as long as they’re working hard, and he is. I think all of our guys understand that we have open competition for every position every day and not just on game day. It would be hard for someone to try to beat Matt Scott or Ka’Deem Carey. Those guys continue to practice, not just play, but practice at a high level. For the guys that get injured, the competition is wide open. If the guy gets healthy, he’s going to be back competing. The guys like the fact that they have to perform and compete every day. It gives us great depth. We have Richard Morrison, who I have a lot of confidence in. You have Johnny Jackson who earned a job before he got hurt, and now you have Garic Wharton. You have three guys that are all competing for that starting slot receiver position. That makes us a better team plus it gives the coaches more confidence that we can play all three guys.”

On the return of Justin Washington and Hank Hobson:

“It’s helped since more guys have gotten hurt. We lost Kirifi (Taula) and Dominique Austin, who was probably playing the best for us up front. He was playing the most productive of any of them. We lost him for the season. Washington is playing a little bit. He’s working harder to get in our good graces, so to speak. It was his first true opportunity to play and he did okay. Hank is the same way. He was banged up but had the chance to make a good play. We are still so razor thin. We hold our breath every time we practice and most of the time we’re just in shorts.”

On Hank Hobson:

“He’s a tough guy. I don’t know who was in line to start. There were 105 guys in camp so there were 105 guys in line to start. In the way he runs things every day, it’s a competition. He’ll stick his face in the fan as we like to say it. He is another guy at linebacker that we can play.”

On Ka’Deem Carey:

“When I got here, I heard that we had a really good tailback in him. Until you coach someone, you don’t know their toughness, their mental attitude and their approach to working hard in practice and in the game. He takes care of the ball. You should have seen him after he dropped the ball. His mouth was bloody and he had gotten hit hard. He came up to me and said ‘Coach, I won’t fumble again.’ I told him ‘I know you won’t, I’m not worried about that.’ He was hungry to get right back out there and compete again. That’s the type of attitude we are trying to build our program around, guys that love football and will do whatever to help our team win.”

“Ka’Deem knows how to hold the ball. He has a knack for squeezing it and understanding the value of it. If you have guys that are fumble prone in practice then you have a reason for concern. Ka’Deem has never been that way and probably wasn’t in high school.”

“Ka’Deem makes you tackle him, he has incredible balance. I have had a couple guys that are close to this but Ka’Deem on a consistent basis has been able to show that. It is a lot of fun to coach him, because he runs the same way in practice.”

On USC:

“They have some of the top recruiting classes in the country. If you look at the NFL drafts in the last 10 years, they are phenomenally talented. We want to catch them in recruiting. I don’t know if we will but that is our goal.”

On USC receivers Marqise Lee, and Robert Woods:

“We remember both of those guys in high school. I think they won state championships in football, basketball and maybe track. They were phenomenal talents coming out. The coaches at USC have them in the right spots and are taking advantage of their talent. They are really good players and they compete.”

On the momentum going into USC:

“Any win gives us momentum. A win is a win and the momentum is good. The players seemed like they were in a good mood last night. I think they understand how important it is to be focused on this one. ”

On Taimi Tutogi playing both sides:

“Taimi is one of our best pass rushes, that’s why he is over there. Our concern is how much he is playing. He is a 260-pound guy playing a defensive position and a skill position on offense. I think he played 35 snaps on offense and 17 on defense; 52 is about the limit. I am hoping he can play even more of that. We tried to get him ready for 80 but I think this is the first time I have had one guy that has played that much on both sides. He played pretty well, he had a solid game.”

On run success against Washington:

“I think it was our cleanest game up front. Ka’Deem (Carey) ran extremely hard and I think Matt (Scott) made some really good decisions. He had a couple nice runs. We blocked okay but we can get better. There were situations when they were playing the pass. We are going to react to how they play us.”

Senior Quarterback Matt Scott

On the opportunity to go against USC quarterback Matt Barkley:

“It’s a big opportunity for me. I really just want to go out there and win. He’s a great quarterback, a great leader of the team and it’s going to be a good game”

On Austin Hill:

“We have a bunch of great guys on our receiving corps. I can’t even explain (Austin Hill). He’s a tremendous athlete, he has great hands and he’s quick. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a great player and I’ll continue to look for him.”

On comparing Austin Hill to Juron Criner:

“Austin is doing a lot of great things, kind of like what Juron did in his sophomore season. Juron is a little bigger but Austin is a great guy, a great receiver and a next level player. That stiff arm he did to get in the end zone got me excited. I think it got everyone on the sideline excited. He’s a great fit for this offense.”

On Garic Wharton:

“He’s working hard in practice. He’s out there practicing trying to get better, running his routes and doing everything he can to get better. He’s playing multiple positions. He’s a great athlete. He’s quick and he can make a lot of plays on the field.”

On watching film on USC:

“There are some things I think we can do on offense to keep them on their toes. We’ll push the tempo like we’ve been doing the past few games.”

Freshman Safety Patrick Onwuasor

On scoring touchdowns on defense and special teams:

“They can be big game-changers. We just have to play fast and physical, and by doing that, they can lead to game changing plays like (Jonathan) McKnight against Oklahoma State; he intercepted and broke free at the perfect time.”

On the size USC’s receivers:

“Their size can present a big challenge. We have to do a good job at getting our hands on them. If we play press coverage, our corners need to get their hands on them and play physical. If we play over the top, then we have to stick to being on top and keep our eyes on them. If we see two or more receivers on the same side, then something is going on. We have to make sure to read the offense.”

On his relationship with USC receiver Marquise Lee:

“One of my best friends is Marqise Lee. We grew up together playing basketball so it is going to be a good game. He was always the fastest guy on the team and we won one state championship together.”

On USC’s big tight ends:

“We have to get our hands on them. If we see them release, then they are going for a pass. We have to be physical if we see them go for passes.”

Freshman Linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson

On USC’s status as a powerhouse:

“There is a big chip on our shoulders because it is a great opportunity to take advantage of the competition, playing the best of the best. Plus, I want to prove that I can compete against five-star recruits. ”

On Hank Hobson:

“He has been playing very well, and it was great to see him get a sack against Stanford. He also plays great team defense; he is not concerned about the individual but he puts the team first. He is more of a balanced linebacker where he can play the pass and run, while I am more suitable for the run.”

On USC’s offense:

“We have to play disciplined; stay home especially this week because we are can’t make the mistake of losing our gap. Their running back, Silas Redd, likes to cutback a lot so we can’t go outside of our gaps. We also have to respect their pass game by recognizing the pass and play physical against their receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.”

The Wildcats welcome No. 10 USC to Arizona Stadium on Sat., Oct. 27 at 12:30 p.m. The game will air live on ABC/ESPN2. Tickets are available at the McKale Center Ticket office, by visiting ArizonaWildcats.com or by calling 520-621-2287 or 1-800-452-CATS.

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