Sept. 3, 2012
TUCSON - University of Arizona Wildcat 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
"Anytime we win there's a lot of things we can be better at. I think everyone in the program understands that. We found out a lot about our team. I'm really pleased with some aspects and not so pleased with other aspects. There are a lot of things we can correct and certainly need to correct before Oklahoma State comes into town this weekend."
On what the biggest area for improvement is:
"The biggest part is the execution not just offensively which is obvious when you don't execute offensively and not just the kicking game because you don't execute there but even there might be a technique that's wrong defensively or technique that's wrong in the front in the offensive line or something like that that the coaches couldn't see without watching film. We had a long film session yesterday. We ought to get it corrected and then we will just try to keep harping on it. Sometimes you try to keep adding plays and sometimes you have to add things to prepare for your opponent but at the same time you can't forget about correcting the things fundamentally that we did wrong in the first game."
On Oklahoma's shut out win against Savannah State:
"They scored every time they had the ball. It wasn't even a contest from the start. That's what they get when they do what they're supposed to do. They totally dominated and their kids played hard until the end. I was impressed to watch them play hard. When the third and fourth team guys get in there, they want to show what they can do, too. We won't take a whole lot from that game. You can watch the first couple of series but other than that they kept it pretty generic and just let the back-ups play and have fun."
On Arizona's two missed field goals in Toledo game:
"We just missed them. Fundamentally, it didn't look like (John Bonano), with the little I know about kicking, had bad foot placing or his head was in the wrong spot. John may have overcorrected. He missed the first one when it hit the post. We did that same kick last night three or four times and we said this one is for the game winner and he nailed it right down the middle."
On handling kickers:
"I don't know if anyone has a strategy. I've never been one to sit down and have a Dr. Phil moment with any of the players, kickers or otherwise. Just go work on it. If there's something not right and you're not doing something as well as you can then go practice it more. If you're not making your free throws, go shoot free throws. If you're not making kicks, go kick. John (Bonano) and the rest of our guys go out and do that. That's the best answer to that. I know some of it is mental but just to go out and work on it to make it second nature."
On Taimi Tutogi's impact playing on defense:
"He played 17 or 18 snaps which is what we thought, somewhere around 20. I think he made a nice impact. He's one of our better pass rushers. He played offensively, too, so he played a lot of snaps. He was probably a little tired yesterday but we need him to play that many; 20 to 25 snaps is probably a good number for him defensively. He's got a good motor."
On moving Taimi Tutogi to defense:
"We did it in the spring a little bit with some one-on-one pass rush drills so we knew back then, `Hey, this guy has a chance.' In the first day of practices at camp, he spent time on the defensive side and as the weeks went along we spent a little more time. I mean he's still 75 percent on the offensive side of the ball but he's getting individual time with Coach Kirelawich defensively so he's ready."
On evaluating Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt:
"From the start, he wasn't challenged at all. It looked easy for him, but that's what you want from a quarterback, for them to look composed and make it look simple. He's a starting quarterback for a reason. They have some talented quarterbacks and he's a true freshman. They have a pretty high standard for quarterbacks. He's a really good guy for them."
On viewing last year's tape of the Arizona vs. Oklahoma State game:
"I'll watch it just because they do a lot of similar schemes. There are changes on the staff but not much. The defensive staff will watch all of last year's games and the offensive staff will watch quite a bit of their defense even though there are some things they will do differently. They still run good defense."
On if his expectations were met after the first game:
"I don't know if I'm ever truly satisfied with where we're at unless we're playing perfect and that's our goal. I don't expect we'll have a perfect game. There are a lot of mistakes we made in that game that we didn't make in scrimmages or practices that we have to clean-up. We take care of the football and we take a lot of pride in that. That was not good at all on Saturday. They understand the quality of the type of opponent we have this week if we want to win the game."
On standout players on the offensive line:
"They played pretty solid. I think Lene (Maiava) and Kyle (Quinn) were the most consistent on Saturday. We played quite a few guys and we had some guys get banged up. We were rotating Lene, Mickey (Baucus) and all those guys. We weren't physical enough at times. We can fight a little more physical."
On trying to force turnovers:
"We talk about it quite a bit and we work on it like everyone else. We have turnover circuit drills in practice. We can get a stop, whether it's a turnover or penalties, or whether they make a mistake, any stop for us is good. Even if they have a 10-play drive, they stop, don't score, and miss a field goal. For us, that's a win. We try to get our guys in the mindset that eventually, we want three-and-outs and turnovers, but if it's a stop with no score, to me it's a successful run on defense."
On Matt Scott running the offense:
"I thought he was pretty solid for his first game in the system. He's an experienced guy so you hope he understands coverages and has the fundamental part down, which I think he does for the most part. There's a few throws he'd like to have back, there's a few decisions he'd like to have back. Probably most quarterbacks in the country say that every week, let alone the first week. Matt (Scott) was pretty composed, he's a competitor, and he made plays when he had to, and after watching the film, he's saying we could've had a lot more points if we had just hit a few more plays. I'm excited for Matt. Everything we thought we had this spring, he's shown us this fall. And it's going to be a tough one this week for him, but we've got a good one in Matt Scott."
On the team's mental approach for Oklahoma State:
"It's an opportunity for us to play a ranked team. I told our team there's not a lot of people who talk about Arizona football in certain circles, and if you want to become more relevant, the best way to do it is to beat a ranked team. It's a great challenge but also a great opportunity. I'm sure they're just like us, worrying about themselves first, fixing whatever they've got to fix. They probably don't have as much to fix, judging by their game, as we do, judging by our game, but it's a really good team coming in and a great opportunity for us."
Linebacker Jake Fischer
On being named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week:
"It's an honor but there are so many things I could have done better. I'll just try to improve on those things and become the best player I can be."
On how much work has to be done defensively:
"There's a ton, we buckled down in the second half and did a lot better on third downs. There's so much more we could've done better. We're just really focusing and trying to put it all together for the great offense coming in this week."
On playing middle linebacker:
"I prefer it. I like being in the middle of the field and making all the calls. I did it in high school and I prefer it."
On Taimi Tutogi's defensive performance:
"Even if you make mistakes, as long as you fly to the ball, which he did a pretty good job of, it makes up for a lot of things. He really helped us. Even though he was in the box, when the guy fumbled it, he was the first one over there. It just shows his hustle."
On Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt:
"He may be young but he has good reads and our defense has to play the same. He is starting for a reason. We are going to be aggressive and go after the ball."
On his first game back after being injured:
"It was very emotional. These guys and my family know what I went through and how hard I pushed to get back. The first play was emotional but I had to push it out of my mind and do my job."
On Oklahoma State's running game:
"They ran the ball very well and with a young quarterback they might do the same this week so we are going to have to stop the run. We are going to try to put them in some uncomfortable situations."
Fullback Taimi Tutogi
On playing both sides of the ball:
"Offence is my main role but defense is fun. Getting off the edge and trying to get the quarterback is fun. I just have to put some pressure on him. The offense we run is demanding and I was pretty tired but that's why we practice hard during the week and go so hard over the summer. The summer definitely paid off. The coaches told us all week that the games would be easier than practice and surprisingly it was. I wasn't too tired. I was able to play both ways and did it comfortably."
On the mental strength it takes to play both sides:
"Offense has a lot of plays you have to learn and it's the same with defense. I have a lot to study when we are in the hotel but it's nothing I can't handle. For the most part I'm on the offensive side but the team helps me out and makes it a lot easier."
Cornerback Shaquille Richardson
On Taimi Tutogi's defensive performance:
"I thought he played well. He flew around to the ball and that is what defense is all about. When he recovered that fumble, it was a sign of him flying to the ball."
On forcing turnovers:
"Turnovers are the key. We can give the ball back to our offense and get off the field faster. Ideally, the plan was to have about 65 (defensive) plays on Saturday and we went over that. We need to get off the field on third downs and cause more turnovers."
Center Kyle Quinn
On the challenge Oklahoma State presents:
"They have a well-established program and they have great coaches. They have athletes on defense. Watching film today, they fly around, they make plays and they blitz a lot. We have to be ready to play a great game on Saturday."
On flying under the radar:
"We have to go out there and prove what we're made of. Coach told us, `If you want to be known, beat a ranked team at home.'
On singing with band after the game:
"I loved it, going out and singing with the band and the Zona Zoo was right there, it was great. Everybody put so much work in this summer and in fall camp. To let it out and open the Coach Rodriguez era with a win was a great experience."
On the offensive performance:
"We definitely shot ourselves in the foot on Saturday night. It was just little mistakes that are easy to fix. We'll work hard this week and work out those mistakes and move forward."
On his individual growth since Alamo Bowl:
"I definitely don't have the `deer in the headlights' look. That was a long time ago and it was my first start. I can read defenses, I can see what they're going to do. I'm nasty off the ball and I'm a fifth-year senior. I'm the strongest I've ever been in my career and I'm going to put that to use on Saturday."
On Oklahoma State's defense:
"They like to talk a little bit out there. They like to blitz, they're very aggressive and that's the way they're coached. They have a great defensive coordinator. We have to go out there and be tougher than them."
The Wildcats will take to Arizona Stadium on Sat., Sept. 8 to host Oklahoma St. The 7:30 p.m. contest will be broadcast nationally on the Pac-12 Network. Football tickets are available at the McKale Center Ticket office, by visiting ArizonaWildcats.com or by calling 520-621-2287 or 1-800-452-CATS.