Stoops still looking for fast improvement

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops met with the media on Monday and was not happy with his team's performance this season. Read on to see Stoops talk about the team, injuries, and more.

Mike Stoops met with the media for the first time since Oregon and the review of the tape did nothing to change his mind about how the Wildcats performed Saturday.

"We did not play well enough defensively in a lot of areas," Stoops said. "Just didn't tackle. We had guys in the wrong positions, didn't play anything very well. Our inability to tackle consistently, get in the right spots was confusing for some of our players. Offensively the drops in the first half were critical. I think Nick (Foles) missed a wide open receiver running down the sideline, which he never does."

Defensively, Arizona has been disappointing and Stoops says that is a matter of inexperience and simply not executing.

"Missed assignments, missed tackles and some youth," Stoops said of the struggles. "We have guys playing before they should probably be playing. That is the problem with playing young players, they just don't understand the whole system when guys start moving around, understanding their fits. We have not been great up front either.

"Our run defense has not been good and it needs to improve this week. Just no plays, no sacks, no turnovers. We are not getting any big negative yardage plays or big plays from anybody right now."

Foles has been hit too much for Stoops' liking and the fact that he is able to continue playing is something that Stoops gives him plenty of credit for.

"Nick has been under a lot of duress," Stoops said. "Playing these teams and getting behind early and letting them tee off on your quarterback is not an ideal situation. I think Nick has really hung in there. His toughness and the way he sits in there and takes it he proves himself over and over and over. He will be one of the top guys taken, I don't think there is any question with his ability."

In order to protect Nick, Arizona has to develop more of an offensive identity, which is something that Stoops and company are currently working on.

"We are trying to form one," Stoops said. "We are starting to get closer to an identity. I thought we ran the ball much more effectively Saturday, so trying to get our tight ends and fullbacks to be good blockers is what we are coaching to do as we move forward. The backs, you have to give them opportunities. These guys are good runners to try to find a balance in our run game.

"When you have a quarterback as good as Nick, what are you going to do? Are you going to stop the run or are you going to play two deep and stop the pass? If they are going to do that, we have to be good enough to run the football. That is pretty general football."

Although the losing streak has been frustrating for Arizona, Stoops says that it is part of the growing process for the Wildcats.

It is tough, but to win any game you have to do certain things right," he said. "If they have a passion or desire to do great, going to practice and working to improve is what we do. You can't look in the past, you move forward and try to improve. Some of our immaturities are coming through when you are pressed that deeply by the challenges that we faced. With the accumulation of injuries and young guys paying, sure a lot of those immaturities show up.

"You have to learn from them and hopefully it makes you more determined. If you give up, you might as well quit. You have no right to be out there. I don't see that from any of our players."

In order to help combat those immaturities, Stoops allows the leaders of the team to step up and make themselves known.

"I think as much as you are the leader, it still has to be an attitude throughout your team," he said. "At times we lack the maturity that we need to be a good team. There has to be accountability within your team. You can make all the excuses you want, but the bottom line is that they know what they are accountable to and what they should be. The leadership still has to come from the players."

Notes

  • Stoops touched on injuries, as the offensive side of the ball was hit with plenty of them Saturday.

    "Our continuity as a team has not been great," he said. "I don't know if we started the same group on any side of the ball any two games in a row. Marquis (Flowers) had a sprained knee. He just wasn't ready to make it back Saturday. He should be back hopefully today (Monday) or tomorrow in practice so he should be good to go. Juron hurt his hand, it kept him from playing probably midway through the third quarter through the fourth quarter. Dan Buckner had an injury too that kept him out. Austin Hill had a concussion, so we went through some receivers that game, but I think there is a good chance all of them will be available Saturday.

    "We will see how Austin responds to having that concussion. It looks like he may have went through his shoulder to his head. To me, I am always going to side on the protection of plays and that is what they have made the focal point of to us. We were called for a very similar infraction. I have not talked to anybody, but I will to see what they say."

  • Adam Hall and Jake Fischer will likely not be back this week, although there is an outside possibility.

    "They will practice this week," Stoops said. "Whether we get them into live tackling drills, I don't know that. We will see how it progresses throughout the week though. I would say outside (chance). More realistic would be Oregon State, but possible in limited situations. Possibly in nickel or long yardage situations, not sure on every down whether they are ready for that."

  • Stoops said that Justin Washington has lost his starting spot, as he has not recovered well from being sick this past summer.

    "Just not playing as well as he needs to and lost a bunch of weight," Stoops said of Washington. "He just had a stomach situation that bothered him the latter part of the summer and then camp."


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