Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Monday Press Conference Transcript
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 12, 2012
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Nov. 12, 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:

“We have a big challenge this week. I told the team yesterday that this will be one of the most physical and biggest teams we’ve played this year. It’ll be a tough environment and we will be tested both mentally and physically on Saturday night. We need to play a lot tougher and be more physical than the last several weeks.”

On being mentally tested:

“They have a great home environment and the crowd will be into it. It will be a little cooler than what we are accustomed to. It’s a veteran team on both sides of the ball, especially up front, and we already know our issues with being undersized. We didn’t play very physical at all the last game, and if that happens Saturday, then we will be in trouble.”

On the preparation for a road game:

“It’s the same preparation. People will say that we haven’t won on the road but we got beat by three teams that were better than us. The Stanford game we played a bit better at times. We will win on the road when we are better.”

On Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei:

“We don’t have any players that are similar to his size, strength and speed to emulate it in practice. He has been a dominant player in this league for a couple of years and he will be a first round draft pick. They will move him around as well and he won’t be lined up on the same person each time. Our guys up front have to watch the film and play with great leverage and intensity.”

On Lotulelei’s ability to stop the run game:

“It’s too late in the season to change what we are doing. We really just need to play well up front. We have not gotten a lot of push at the line of scrimmage this year so I wouldn’t expect to do it against Star and their front. They are bigger and stronger than our previous opponents. The key for us is to have great leverage.”

If Colorado’s defensive schemes were different than what he expected:

“We see that every week. We prepare for what they normally do with certain formations and offenses but we have to adjust. You hope that when your guys grow in your system that they can learn to adjust quicker to those in game situations. Part of the issue is that we have young guys on offense and defense and it is a new system. They are still learning to adjust to something when they see it for the first time in a game, whereas experienced players pick it up right away. It was frustrating because we were making a few adjustments that we thought were simple but since some players are freshmen and playing for the first time, they couldn’t make those in-game adjustments as quickly as we would like to.”

On the opposing team not knowing which quarterback will play:

“It has some advantages. More particularly if there are two different styles of quarterbacks, where one is more of a runner. If teams know which one will take the most reps then they can maybe prepare and practice against a certain style.”

On the elements of the Colorado win:

“We graded out pretty well on offense. I don’t think we played great but it was the simplest scheme in a game that I have used in 20 years. The simple scheme allowed us to run it efficiently and our tempo was pretty good, too. Our mental assignments were really low so we graded out pretty high from a mental standpoint. Our tight end Drew Robinson did a nice job, B.J. Denker made some good decisions and Ka’Deem Carey has run that way all year. He got a few bigger runs but the way he ran has been consistent to what he has been doing every game.”

On how much better Ka’Deem Carey can get:

“On Saturday, Ka’Deem was really good with his eyes. There were times where he may have missed a cut or two but for the most part, his vision was really good with regards to how the play was unfolding. I think he can get better at that part, and he’s only a sophomore.”

On Drew Robinson:

“It was easily his best game of the year. Taimi Tutogi has been in that role normally, and he has done a good job so far. Hopefully, he can come back because he does a lot of different things for us on offense and defense. Drew and Michael Cooper, our two tight ends, can give us a little something different.”

On Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker’s performance:

“We had a pretty good feel for how he was doing throughout the game, his composure and decision making. I think after you watch the film, particularly the quarterback decision making on about 80 percent of the plays; his decision making was pretty much spot on. He had a handful, maybe four or five, plays that he’d like to have back but we were pretty pleased with that. There were a couple of throws that he was late on, along with some reads in the read options plays. I think he was very composed. Some of the speed options and couple of runs that he took off with for first downs were big plays for us.”

On what to expect from Utah:

“I remember early in the year that they were projected to be the team to win the Pac-12. They are a veteran team. They’re a big, physical team with a lot of playmakers. I see that same team. They’re playing their best football in the last couple of weeks. It’s going to be their last game at home so it’s going to be a really, really tough environment. We try to prepare our players for that. They’ll watch film and see the guys and remember them from last year. The guys from last year will remember. I think our guys know the challenge.”

On Utah running back John White:

“He’s a very fast guy and shifty. I think he’s one of the best backs in the Pac-12. He’s extremely explosive. He’s not real big but he’s not small. He’s a strong runner and has great explosiveness. He’s a really great football player.”

Junior Linebacker Jake Fischer

On stopping the run:

“We really expect Utah to come out and run the ball down our throat. We made some plays Saturday but overall it was just unacceptable. We’re going to address that issue and go from there.”

“They love to run the ball, they’re big and physical. We’re just going to try to shut down the run first. You know that’s what they’re going to try to do, especially with how we’ve played the run the last couple weeks.”

On stopping Utah’s running back John White:

“We just have to get all 11 hats to the ball. He runs hard. I thought he ran the hardest out of any running back that we’ve played. He doesn’t give up. It’s all about will and we just have to get 11 guys to the ball.”

On “not playing winning football”:

“We just didn’t have enough guys step up. Looking back on the film, there are missed assignments we’ve been going over since spring ball. People really need to knuckle down and be ready to play this week, or we’re going to get exposed. It’s all about desire and knowing what you have to do. If we know what we have to do, we can play all out.”

On third-down defense:

“We just can’t get off the field on third downs. If we can get off the field in three or four third downs in the first half against Colorado, we can save an extra 20 plays. They made a lot of first downs off big time third-down plays. It’s just missed assignments. With the way our offense is scoring, we just need to make a few stops and we’ll be in every single game. In third downs, we haven’t been able to do that a lot.”

Senior Offensive Lineman Trace Biskin

On stopping Utah’s front and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei:

“He’s a big physical player and an anchor of the defensive line. For us it’s just going to be a matter of handling assignments and playing physical off the ball. If we do that and allow Ka’Deem (Carey) to run and open some passing lanes, we’ll be okay.”

On helping Ka’Deem Carey setting the record:

“He really loves to play football. He’s probably the most enthusiastic player in the locker room, before the game and after. It’s been a lot of fun playing with him and he’s going to have a great career.” On the Utah environment:

“We’ve talked about the altitude, the cold, the wind. For us, it’s just about going fast and playing our game, trying to get in a rhythm. If we can establish ourselves in the first quarter then it will help us through the rest of the game.”

On Arizona tight end Drew Robinson:

“He’s a really good tight end. In Saturday’s game, he made some really good blocks, especially in the red zone. He’s like a sixth lineman. He’s a big physical guy and fun to play with.”

On the depth at offensive line:

“We have a lot of utility players. Throughout camp we rotated and moved guys around knowing that every season guys have injuries. Coach Anae was smart in doing that. Knowing that if (Chris) Putton went down, Cayman (Bundage) would start. We knew that Shane (Zink) would rotate around and I would come back in for Shane and whatnot. We understand the scheme pretty well as a line, which tends to help us.”

On the conditioning of the offensive line:

“We took pride in being in shape. We worked hard in the offseason as a unit. We knew that we were going to have some hundred-play games, or that we might have injuries, or that we would need to persevere in certain situations. That’s something we’ve focused on since camp and it’s helped us along the way.”

On B.J. Denker’s leadership:

“I knew he was going to do well starting from last Monday. I saw him watching a lot of film, and we were talking all week. He really took it serious to be prepared. I expect him to do the same this week in case he starts. I would think both him and Matt (Scott) will prepare as if they’re going to start. It demonstrates their leadership on the field, and as an offensive line we enjoy playing with both of those guys.”

Arizona will travel for its final road game of the regular season with Saturday's 8 p.m. MST kick at Utah. The contest will air nationally on ESPNU.

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