Stoops knows desperation approaching

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops believes Saturday's game will be one of desperation. Read on to see his thoughts on the defense, personnel changes, and more.

With Arizona's record at 1-4, the reasons for the Wildcats' struggles have become apparent: the defense simply needs to improve.

"I think defensively we have some holes and we certainly need to step up and play better," Mike Stoops said at Monday's press conference. "I think to be good, you have to play good defense and right now we are not playing good defense. That is really the heart of a lot of our issues. We just have a lot of issues we need to address and certainly attempt to improve on."

The defense has had plenty of problems, with the biggest possibly being tackling. Stoops says that there is a lot that goes into making a tackle, but it is not always technique.

"Tackling, a lot of it is position and a lot of it is desire," he said. "I think it first starts with getting in position and being a good tackler is something I think is an attitude as well. You don't see many corners that are great tacklers because they are not asked to, but we play a lot of cover two and some zone.

"If you are a zone team you have to be a decent tackler as a corner. It all depends on schematic, some guys just ask their corners to play man, our players have to be a combination player in this system. The secondary can certainly tackle better as well."

Stoops knows the defense needs to improve in a hurry, but does not necessarily believe that it is as bad as it has performed early in the season.

"These are good offensive teams, so there is a balance," he said. "We are probably not as bad as we played, but we have been exposed in games where offenses have prevailed and been the strength of these teams.

"I think it is obvious that whether it is Oregon, USC, or Oklahoma State, the strength of their team. Certainly our inability to get off the field on third down and make plays has led to that. We have to play better regardless of who we are playing."

Getting back some key players is one way that the Wildcats hope to improve and Stoops insinuated that they could be close to getting back two of the best.

"Hopefully Adam (Hall) and Jake (Fischer), those are guys that hopefully we can get back and in the mix and bring some more aggression and experience into the mix," Stoops said. "Those are guys we miss because they are important parts of our defense and kind of in the middle of everything.

"Safeties and backers are guys that are kind of in the middle of everything that goes on and they have good experience, so hopefully we will get them back and see what they can do and get us some punch with our defense."

Stoops hesitated to call Saturday's game against Oregon State a must-win situation, but did admit that these are desperate times for his Wildcats.

"I think it is a big game in a lot of ways for us, certainly gaining some confidence and momentum in the second half of the season," he said. "We need to go out and play better as a team and I think the wins follow that. We can't continue to play defense like this and expect to win. We haven't been really good defensively and guys we have relied on to make plays have not made plays for us and we need those guys to step up and be accountable.

"It is pretty desperate right now in a lot of situations. To get where he want to go and have any chance of winning the South I think we would have to run the table."

As Arizona continues to lose, the mental aspect of the game has to somewhat be of concern. Stoops acknowledges that it is his job as head coach to make sure things get turned around.

"Losing creates doubt and certainly you can't win if you have doubt, in my belief," Stoops said. "There is a physical part of it where it is more important mentally how to understand to play this game. That is something we need to get back to. I thought we practiced very well last week, so there is a fine line and that is part of what the head coach needs to do.

"Do the things necessary to put the work in, the focus on detail to give yourself the best chances and for whatever reason we are not carrying over some things defensively. That becomes an individual thing as well. All of us collectively need to try to put our players in better positions and get them to do the things they can do, but there is apprehension and indecision and part of that is coaching too."


  • Stoops expressed disappointment with the kicking game, even joking at one point that he may have open tryouts soon.

    "The kicking game, continues to be some issues there with field goals and extra points and that is disappointing," he said. "We just need guys to step up and make the normal kicks for us, not do anything out of the ordinary, just be good and make the ones we are capable of making."

  • Justin Washington's struggles continue, as he will now be out for a few weeks with an unspecified knee injury.

    "Justin had a minor knee surgery, so he will be out probably until UCLA I would say would be an optimistic outlook for him," Stoops said. "I think it was bothering him a little bit, he just wasn't full strength where he needed to be."

  • Shaquille Richardson is one player that has had noticeable struggles and Stoops believe he needs to work on becoming more consistent.

    "Just has to play better and be more consistent and practice in everything you do," Stoops said. "That is the thing with him. You will see a great play and then you will see a play that isn't made and you have to make those plays. He is just lacking consistency, but I think he has a lot of talent as a player."

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