Nov. 27, 2001
On the team's performance in 2001: "With the team, we played some really good football the last five weeks of the season. We played well enough to win at Washington and against USC. We lost both of those games right at the end. We had a terrific attempt at a comeback against Stanford. We beat Cal, and we beat ASU at the very end, and that was a fitting way for us to finish the season."
"The important thing as I saw it is that in the second half of the season, we continued to improve as a team, we continued to get better, and I think our seniors can leave with a sense of having accomplished something, perhaps not everything. For the younger players, they can use this as a springboard to what goes on next year. I hope they all feel good about where we are from where we were at the beginning of the season. We are all disappointed that we did not win enough games to get invited to a bowl game. That was probably the most disappointing part of the year because we felt that we were capable, and I thought we played well enough to do that except for a couple of unfortunate things."
On the offense: "We were a young offense that was growing a lot during the year. We made a number of mistakes, and we had far too many turnovers. We had 28 turnovers, and our opponents had 29. The biggest area was that we turned the ball over way too much, and it cost us dearly during the year. We have to continue to improve in all areas."
On the defense: "Defensively, we really have to take stock with what we did and what we were not able to do. We have to look at what the placement of some new personnel will mean to us because that is the biggest area of our attention at this particular time. We need to get some defensive people up front who are physically big enough to line up and pound away at the line, and we also are going to replace some seniors in the secondary. There are a couple of young freshmen who may be able to fill all of that, but we likely will look at the junior college ranks, especially on defense."
On preparations for the 2002 season: "Looking at some of the stats and some of the areas, I haven't made any concrete decisions about what we want to do. We spent Saturday reviewing and evaluating the team and the season as individual players, but we have not done our review of the season in all areas. That sort of gets put together in pieces as we work over the next couple of weeks. We will review everything and everybody, and we will make the necessary changes that we feel will improve our performance and give us a better chance to win next year."
On possible changes to the defense for 2002: "I'm not thinking about anything right now. I am just thinking about sitting down with our coaches and finding out what parts of our defense are sound, what parts are unsound, and what is attributable to change in personnel. I think our guys played as hard as they could play. We did have talent, and we have good players. Physically we weren't as big and strong as some of the teams we played. We matched up very well in our last few games size wise, and because of that, we played quite well."
"I am committed to doing whatever we have to do to play better than we played. It's not what you play, it's how you play. This defense has been an effective defense before, but if it's not evolving to meet the needs of the present day, then we have to help it evolve. If offenses don't evolve to meet the present-day defenses, then you have to help them evolve. That's what we will be talking about in the coming weeks."
On the Oregon State game as a turning point: "After that game, we started practicing differently, and we started doing things differently. Everyone was afraid of getting people hurt because we were thin, but I just decided that we were going to go out and bang around. We had to because we were playing too soft and too timidly. We had to make some changes. It took us a couple of games, but we played better, and we played more physically active from that point forward."
On quarterback Jason Johnson: "Here's a guy who had thrown eight passes in three years of college football. He had a 56.7 completion percentage, threw 19 touchdowns and had 13 interceptions. He absolutely took a pounding in a couple of games, but he came out and weathered a lot. He finished the season playing as well in the last game as he had played all year. It may have been his best game. Jason knows, as everyone knows, that you cannot rest on what you've done. I expect him to be a much better football player next year. There's as much responsibility on him for his improvement as there is on anyone else. We are going to have a lot of attention on our other quarterbacks, and we should because Jason will be a senior next year."
On Arizona's recruiting efforts: "We are looking to recruit everywhere on defense. We are not discounting any position. I hope we can bring in six or eight players at mid year. We are going to look for kick specialists, both kicking and punting."
On UA players with NFL aspirations: "No underclassmen have talked to me. A lot of the seniors would like to play (in the NFL). Obviously, Steven Grace is an offensive lineman, and I think the pros will be interested in him. I really think he would be a good guard. I think he is a better guard than he is a center. If he goes to the right kind of team, he could be a terrific player and do very well. Brandon Marshall is someone who came along, and he is a prospect that a number of teams looked at. Jermaine Chatman is a corner that people looked at during the season. Anthony Thomas is someone they will look at, but I am afraid that the other guys (on the defensive line) are going to be undersized."
On Arizona's strength and conditioning program: "I'm not sure that we need to intensify it as much as we have to continue it. We have a number of freshmen who are on our squad now who are at the same levels as some of our fourth- and fifth-year players. We have to stress the importance of strength development and strength training. We need a stronger commitment for development, and that comes from someone's passion about doing it. We have to have players who have a passion for developing the proper strength and size, which comes from taking a more aggressive approach to strength training over the winter and spring."
"We really were not a strong football team compared to the teams that we played. But, that is something that we can do something about. That is the message. I am hopeful that in a second year with Brad (Arnett), our players will continue to develop it as a mindset."
On Arizona's most improved players: "Keoki Fraser was one who improved the most, and I think that center became his best position. I think Clarence Farmer was a much improved player over the year. He developed into a more complete player. He played sparingly as a freshman, and this year he took the bulk of everything. Early in the year, I think that his emotions really held him back a little bit, but by the end of the year, his performance showed significant improvement. For him to go to the next level and really be a standout, he is going to have to do more things than just running the ball. Those guys up there (in the NFL) do more than just run the ball. If you're just a runner, they'll beat you up. I still think he exposes himself way too much."
On junior linebacker Lance Briggs: "I think he played just like you would expect him to play. He played hard every week. He played with a broken bone in the top of his hand. He reads the plays, and he is a great blitzer. He is an excellent player, and I don't think that there is any team in America that would not have him as a starting linebacker."
On freshmen players who redshirted: "Mike Bell had a really good year. The first half of the year, he spent all of it with us on the big field running plays. We reached the point where we realized that he was not going to play because it was not prudent to try and stick him in there. He ran plays (on the offensive scout team) for the defense, and he did real well."
"We moved Brad Brittain from tight end to defensive end, and he will likely stay over there. Darrell Brooks and Pedro Limon did a great job on the defensive scout team. Darrell will either be a corner or a safety, and Pedro likely will be a linebacker. We are also going to develop Pedro into a long snapper, and he will give us a bulkier guy at that position. We also have a nice group of running backs (Sean Jones, Antoine Singfield and Gainus Scott) for us to do some things with in the spring."
On ESPN's all-access pass during the season: "From my standpoint, I'm sure there are some things that I wish I had not said or done during the year. I also felt from the beginning that it ought to as accurately portray what college football is all about. As I mentioned to them (the crew), it's probably better that we had a season like we had because you really get to see both sides. We were down, and to me that's the story of what college football is all about. They were here to tell a story about college football and what it is like on the inside."