Stoops talks about needed improvement

Mike Stoops met with the media on Monday morning to talk about numerous topics. Read on to see his thoughts on the loss to Oklahoma State, an update on Juron Criner, and who he plans on playing more.

Mike Stoops met with the media for the first time since the end of the Oklahoma State game and his opinion of Arizona's loss has not changed in the slightest.

"I didn't think we played well at all in the first half," Stoops said. "When you look at the way we came out and we were very hesitant on both sides of the ball and just didn't get off to a very good start in that game.

"That was probably the most disappointing part, that we didn't really engage until it was 21-0 and from there it was an uphill battle pretty much all day. We really didn't win any element of that game. They outplayed us."

Offensively, Stoops feels that the offensive line has done a strong job of protecting quarterback Nick Foles, but needs to be able to create more running lanes.

"Our offensive line has improved in some areas," he said. "I think we continue to grow with this group. We have thrown the ball close to 100 times and I think we have completed 78 or 76 percent of our balls. I think we have only had two sacks and no interceptions, so that part continues to be productive.

"We lean heavily on that but, again, we need to continually try to improve our ability to run the football to make us more complete football team and by running the football it makes us complete not only on offense but on defense."

One answer in being able to run the football better may be Ka'Deem Carey, who Stoops says will get a large opportunity Saturday.

"Ka'Deem, we have to get him more touches for sure," Stoops said. "Ka'Deem is another player we feel is worthy of helping us become a better football team, that is for sure. We have to force it. He is too good of a player.

"I think he can run and make some things happen for us and we have to get a playmaker in there and just give him an opportunity to see what he can do."

As far as the defensive side of the ball goes, Stoops believes that there is plenty of room for improvement.

"Defensively we need to get some pass break ups, some tipped balls," he said. "Teams are completing I think 78 percent. Playing those guys (Oklahoma State) I think that is a complete offense, but we are going to face another one Saturday that protects the quarterback well, very good precise routes, and a quarterback that can deliver the football, so hopefully we can grow from Saturday."

In order to be able to play a better game defensively, Stoops believes that both sides of the ball need to be more aggressive earlier in the game.

"We have to get out and attack from the opening series of this game because we need to keep this game close and get off to a better start," Stoops said. "We learned a lot from a year ago. I think you have to look at the past games we played against these guys. They are very diverse on offense and defense and give you a lot to prepare for."

In addition, Stoops will look at the secondary, especially Shaquille Richardson, to step up, which means getting help from the defensive line.

"Some of those balls he competed for some of them, they were just in spots we couldn't get to," Stoops said. "When you have a quarterback that throws as precise as these two guys that were on the field the other night, you have to really cover well and be able to get pressure on the quarterback. We have to continue to improve in those areas."

As Arizona continues to get healthier, the status of Juron Criner is still up in the air as he remains questionable after an appendectomy last Monday morning.

"Nobody understands Juron's body like Juron does and I trust Juron," Stoops said. "If he is healthy he will play and that is as simple as I can make it along with the doctor's consent. Juron wants to be there and he will be there if he can. That is how we go into it.

"Juron is a very unique athlete. It is not like me going in there getting this done. He will come back a lot quicker. We try to protect him and our football team."

There was some controversy leading up to the Oklahoma State game as it relates to Criner's status and Stoops does not seem he would have handled it any differently.

"There has to be some privacy and protection for us," he said. "I never tried to deceive or lie. I always have to protect those guys first. We will always do that and I think that is my right."

The coaching staff will know late in the week if Criner is able to play and Stoops believes that not practicing would not have a negative effect on him.

"Juron is very unique in his ability to adapt very quickly," Stoops said. "That would not be the perfect scenario. We would like to give him a day. We will see, but he probably won't be cleared until Thursday.

"So that will be a decision that will be due towards the end of the week. Juron has played so much football here he understands what we are doing."


  • In Criner's absence, Stoops was happy with the way that Buckner performed and has high expectations for him this weekend.

    "I thought Dan played very, very well," Stoops said. "That was good to see Dan finally get comfortable in our system and get him the football. Dan is a very lethal guy out there. He can run and stretch the field vertically, so continue to get him comfortable in games where he can play fast and use his ability."

  • Arizona has had some transition at both offensive tackle spots and Stoops says the movement will likely continue.

    "We are just trying to build both players (Ebbele and Baucus)," Stoops said. "It is harder for young players to go a whole game, whole season and just trying to build depth there. I think Jack Baucus and Mickey Baucus and Fabbians are really starting to improve. I think we have three really quality tackles there and Trace will be back today (Monday)."

  • Terrence Miller has yet to play and Stoops says it is simply a matter of him not showing he is ready yet.

    "We have to get more production out of Terrence," he said. "He has to become a better blocker for us out on the perimeter. You earn your way through special teams and doing things and we have to block better. All of our receivers have to block better on the perimeter."

  • With the Thursday night game, Arizona has had a little more time than usual for to prepare for Stanford and is taking advantage of it.

    "We practiced Saturday so we were able to put Thursday behind us and move forward to Stanford Saturday morning," Stoops said. "You have to give the kids off Sunday. Monday will be a full Stanford day as compared to before going through games."

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