Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Monday Press Conference Transcript
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 05, 2012
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Nov. 5, 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.

Athletic Director Greg Byrne

Opening Statement:

"I wanted to update you on Hank Hobson and Matt Scott. Typically, we do not comment on student-athlete’s health. Due to the nature of these injuries, and the attention they have drawn, in particular to Matt, I thought I’d provide you with an update. First off with Hank, he is back in Tucson after spending Saturday night in Los Angeles. Hank’s parents were in attendance at the game. I met them on the sideline and went to see Hank shortly after he left the field. Yesterday, I saw Hank in the training room walking around and he was in good spirits. I am not sure of his status for Saturday. You’ll be updated through our normal Thursday injury report. I have spoken with Matt and he has allowed me to share a few details of this otherwise private information. I can’t go into detail because of student privacy laws but just wanted to provide a few general comments. Our medical staff has conducted daily evaluations and continuously monitored Matt. Last Friday, we did our final evaluation and concluded with an exertional-ImPACT test. Through that evaluation, Matt was medically and clinically approved to play (against UCLA). At UCLA, Matt did suffer a concussion during the game. Many of you saw him receive a blow to the head, I think with a knee and that resulted in a concussion. Our medical staff has taken great care of him. Matt will be observed and evaluated daily. The final decision on whether or not he is going to play will be made by our medical staff. His status will be shared with the Thursday injury report, as well.”

On the decision to release the injury update:

“There’s been a lot of attention on this topic and Matt’s status. One of the things we pride ourselves on is being open and transparent as much as we can within privacy laws. We wanted to be able to give you an update.”

On the public perception that Matt Scott’s concussion had something to do with the USC game:

“We went through the process of evaluating Matt throughout the week. We took the proper steps and procedures, and we were able to do the final exertional-ImPACT test on Friday. He was medically cleared to play (against UCLA).”

On the decision to update information this week rather than last week:

“As you can imagine, this is an issue that is a hot topic on a national scale. This isn’t the first concussion we’ve had in our department, and it won’t be the last. We knew there was a lot of attention directed on this one. We thought it was important to come out and talk about it.”

Asked how Matt Scott would be allowed to play against Colorado this week with a concussion:

“I didn’t say he was going to be allowed to play this week. I said we would update you on Thursday (with the weekly injury report).” 

On the fire in McKale on Saturday:

“We had the fire in the equipment room. We have damage to some of our equipment, our uniforms for several of our sports. What that totals yet, we don’t know. (Assistant Athletic Director of Equipment Operations) Wendell (Neal) and the equipment staff were here all hours during the weekend, most of them were working on just a few hours’ sleep yesterday. We’ve been working with the Tucson Fire Department to understand what caused it and then we’ll address it the best we can and make sure our teams are outfitted for practices and games.”

“The fire actually affected some locker rooms that share a wall with the equipment room, including swimming and baseball. It had an effect across the board. We were able to have volleyball yesterday and we were practicing, so moving forward everything is status quo as far as the operation. We’re talking to Nike and the other equipment providers and figuring out what we can wash and reuse, and what needs to be replaced.”

Head Coach Rich Rodriguez

On the problems vs. UCLA:

"We certainly didn't play well in any of the three phases. I thought we had a good week's preparation but maybe we didn't. Our guys seemed focused and right before the game I even mentioned to one of the coaches, the guys seemed extremely focused. We didn't play that well. You certainly have to give UCLA credit. They dominated us in every facet. It's a learning experience for our guys. The good thing is that a lot of the stuff we saw, we can correct it this week. Some of the stuff, some of the inefficiencies cannot as easily be corrected, but it can be corrected and that will be our focus this week."

On adding components to the defense:

"You run the risk of trying to do too much and it just makes the problem worse by adding fronts, blitzes, and coverages. You try to have something to go back to as your base. Coach (Jeff) Casteel and the staff are coming up with everything they can possibly do as far as players and putting guys in positions to try to make plays. There were a couple chances to make plays Saturday and there were a couple missed assignments that hurt us, as well."

On redshirting affecting future success vs. current success:

"We tell the guys that if you can help us win this year, you'll play. If not, we'll try to develop you to help us win in the future. Unfortunately with some guys, we've had to play them because you need 11. We've had some guys who are going to be really good players, but we've had to put them in because of injuries. I've never had this thin of a group on both sides of the ball. When Kyle (Quinn) and Trace (Biskin) missed a few weeks, we literally had six guys and that was it. Some guys were playing multiple positions. Luckily, we got through it. It's a tougher situation."

On the team mood after the game:

"I didn't want it to be good, I wanted it to be somber. We had a pretty exhaustive film study on what we need to fix. On our walkthrough we did some corrections and mostly what Colorado did, so we already moved on to them. I take it pretty hard for 24 hours. Players bounce back quicker than coaches, it's probably our nature. Our guys have been pretty good. Their focus has been really good. Whether it's a win or a loss, they're good at redirecting towards the next team. I'd be surprised if we didn't have really good focus tomorrow. They're ready to turn the page and get ready for Colorado."

On Colorado:

"I think they watched film and saw how poorly we played Saturday night. We played better a week before against USC, but we didn't play our best. Other games earlier in the year we've played a lot better. Some of it has been injuries but we've got to get back to executing. Whoever is playing, there is a certain standard of play and effort that goes without saying. I hope our players understand that this weekend. They have eight returners on a defense that beat us by 20. Our guys understand that they have players, and the same guys that beat us last year are coming to our place this year."

On the slow starting offense:

"It seems that every game we've stumbled a little bit out of the gate, or at least been behind. Maybe the Washington game we were ahead, USC we were ahead. A lot of other games we've gotten behind. The resiliency factor shouldn't matter. Whether they score first or not, it's still a 60-minute game. Our guys haven't panicked but this last game we didn't have a chance to get back in. It was unfortunate because we might have been able to stem the tide."

On performance on road:

"The Oregon game, we played poorly on offense in the red zone, but other than the fourth quarter our execution wasn't too bad. In the Stanford game, I thought our guys competed really well. We don't want this last game to define our team, our season, or our program. It's easier at home. You get momentum going and have a home crowd to keep you going. Performance shouldn't change though. Maybe it's maturity but I didn't have the sense that they were wide-eyed or anything like that."

On junior quarterback B.J. Denker:

"B.J. is playing alright. I think his decision making, his demeanor, and his command on what we are asking him to do is good. It is kind of a tough situation to go in when we are that far behind. I thought he made a couple good decisions and a couple good throws. He has a good grasp on what we are doing offensively."

On Richard Morrison as a quarterback:

"All spring he was the quarterback, and probably a little bit of training camp. This week he will be taking more reps at quarterback and then Javelle Allen will be the next quarterback. He is a true freshman who we would like to redshirt. Richard had pretty good command of (the offense) in the spring and he throws the ball pretty well. We will see what he can do this week in practice."

On the progression of B.J. Denker:

"B.J. wasn't here in the spring but he picked it up as quickly as we hoped he would. He had a really good fall camp. He is a sharp guy so we are going to run what we run."

On concussions:

"The issue of concussions, not just in football but in all sports, I think is a big topic. There are a lot of conversations about it; a lot of medical staffs like ours have done a lot of research. I know Randy Cohen, our athletic trainer, did a lot of research and attended a lot of seminars this summer. We have a great medical staff. Randy and I talked a lot about concussions before the camps started. Our medical staff does an outstanding job, not only for treating our athletes but being aware of what is new and modern of what is out there right now."

On if Matt Scott will play if cleared:

"I think we are dealing with hypotheticals, but our policy is that you at least have to take some reps on Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for Saturday. Our quarterbacks do not get hit during the week anyway. We do very little hitting as a team. Most coaches don't do it during the season, and our team is so thin. Taimi (Tutogi) got injured in brief contact last week in practice and missed a game Saturday. That wasn't even a full-padded situation. We are very cautious about that. If Matt is cleared to go Saturday and everything is good, I think Matt can play well without a whole lot of reps. That is all hypothetical so I am not thinking about that right now."

On the Hank Hobson injury:

"I think it was a similar injury that he had earlier in the season, he aggravated a nerve. I just talked to him earlier and he feels fine. He was frustrated on the field because he didn't want to do the whole procedure that they did to him. But he understands why he had to do that. Hank will be fine; I just don't know how long it will be."

On the penalties vs. UCLA:

"That was probably the most frustrating thing I had to deal with. Yesterday in our team meeting we watched all 15 penalties. There were about five of them that we questioned a bit. There were three or four that were aggressive penalties, probably poor technique. There were about three penalties with hands to the face. There were a couple that were just silly, out of character and something that we are not going to allow to happen. I will be really surprised if the silly penalties happen again."

On the offense:

"You get into a rhythm offensively where one first down usually leads to another. But when you drop a pass, or if there is a play call that doesn't allow you to get a first down, then all of sudden your defense has to go back out there and they are already struggling. So it's snowballed on us a little but we have to be able to overcome that."

On bowl eligibility:

"It will be a nice goal. After I was first hired, we were sitting at home and 70 other teams were playing a bowl game. Our guys certainly did not like that, I wanted it to hurt. If you are a college football player at the Division I level and you aren't playing a bowl game, you should be disappointed. We have not talked about it as being a goal but it is certainly out there for us." On the lack of depth: "We are playing everybody, every healthy body we've got defensively. I have never been in a situation as thin as we were to start the season. We are razor-thin defensively but now we are past that. If we do our job in recruiting and developing we will never be in that situation again. We will never be in the situation where we are playing guys truly before their ready to play."

On players who may return punts:

"Jonathan McKnight, maybe Johnny Jackson (will return punts). We haven't tried Austin Hill there but he played it in high school so we might try that."

On coaching punt returning:

"Catch the ball first. Don't try to make the heroic catch. Sometimes the guys want to run up and catch it to keep it from bouncing but if you have to run up and catch it the ball may end up bouncing anyways. If it is a difficult catch then just let it go."

On Saturday's early start time:

"We have had 12:30 p.m. and noon start times. For the Stanford week, we practiced early in the morning to get them used to that. We are not going to do that tomorrow but we might do it Wednesday or Thursday."

On the McKale fire:

"What (Assistant Athletic Director of Equipment Operations) Wendell (Neal) and the equipment staff have gone through in the last 48 hours has been amazing. If Wendell looks like he hasn't slept because he probably hasn't slept. It's been quite a challenge but they've done a marvelous job so far."

Senior Center Kyle Quinn

On the Colorado loss last season:

"I don't remember much, just us losing and that bad taste you get after a loss. We have to go out there and have a great week. We have to be prepared to play a great game."

On giving attention to Colorado:

"Every opponent always has our attention. We take things one game at a time, one play at a time. We had a great walk through and film session last night so we have to move on and be ready for Colorado."

On the possibility of B.J. Denker starting at quarterback:

"We have all the confidence in B.J. There are a few things that he does do differently because he is a lefty. But we run a shotgun so it shouldn't affect us too much. He can direct our offense and make the plays."

On B.J. Denker's personality as a player:

"He is pretty focused on the field. He was completely involved in the game against UCLA. He's a light-hearted guy, that's just his nature, and he's able to channel that in a good way on the football field."

On his snaps being too low or high:

"The snap has to get to the quarterback. It can be high at times, and it might have been the fact that I haven't played in a month. I was a bit rusty with some snaps but I have to go back out there and practice to make sure the snaps are getting to the quarterback in a comfortable place."

On his month absence because of injury:

"It's been tough. I'm a football player and watching from the sideline in games and practices has been really tough. I did whatever I could to help mentally but to be out there physically, it has been a relief for me. I am really glad to be back."

Sophomore Receiver Austin Hill

On the possibility of B.J. Denker starting at quarterback:

"It doesn't change the offense at all. We are going to go out there and play our offense. We are going to run our routes the way that Coach (Rich) Rodriguez wants us to run them. B.J. is more than capable of running the offense."

On the differences between Matt Scott and B.J. Denker:

"He is left-handed. The way that he throws is different. As a receiver, every quarterback has a different feel when you catch the ball. I have practiced with B.J. a lot so I'm comfortable with him passing the ball to me, just like Matt (Scott). It doesn't matter who is playing quarterback, as long as he is getting the job done."

Junior Linebacker Jake Fischer

On getting over Saturday's loss:

"We already watched the film, and we learn from our mistakes. We saw that we didn't play very well. We've got to have a different attitude this week. This game doesn't mean more than the next, so our focus is now on Colorado. We have to take it one game at a time. We are going to focus on the game plan and start from there."

On UCLA getting payback for last season's loss against Arizona:

"UCLA just came out to play, and we didn't. They made the plays, and we didn't make any. There were some things that went in their favor, and there are games like that. Obviously though with our effort and execution, we could have done a lot better."

On Colorado's chances rising to upset Arizona after loss against UCLA:

"Colorado might feel that they have a better chance after our game against UCLA but we are going to prepare for them the way that we have been preparing for the other games. We're not going to forget completely about the UCLA loss; we're going to learn from the loss but that game is in the past. We have to treat this game like any other game and prepare for their formations and schemes."

The Wildcats will return to Arizona Stadium on Sat., Nov. 10 to host Colorado for Homecoming. The game will kickoff at 11:30 a.m. MT and will air nationally on FX.

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