Rodriguez excited for season opener

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday to discuss his concerns about the first game, Toledo, and much more.

For the first time as Arizona head coach, Rich Rodriguez addressed the media during a game week. Although Rodriguez has coached plenty of season openers before, he is still excited about Saturday's game against Toledo.

"It's game week and I think the players are excited," Rodriguez said. "The coaches are excited. There's been a lot of work to finally get to this week. I'm sure these guys will tell you they're probably looking forward to playing somebody that's not in the same color jerseys and the guys they're in the same locker room with.

"I'm anxious to see what we have. I think the guys have worked hard. The first year is always the toughest because you're teaching new schemes and new techniques. Hopefully we have a great crowd, the weather is supposed to be terrific again, and we will see what happens Saturday night."

Rodriguez admits that there are numerous factors to be concerned about, especially with the unfamiliarity he has with his squad during games.

"With the first game there are so many things you're unsure of," he said. "Not just because you're in a new environment with new guys, but you don't have any preseason games. I mean, it's kind of silly that we play at this level of football and you don't have any preseason or scrimmage games. I mean, they do it in small college level, you do in high school level and you can do it in the level above us but you don't do it on this level. I mean, they all count.

"They're all pretty important, so I wish they would change the rules and let us have a preseason game or a scrimmage game or something but I don't see that happening anytime soon. So, we have a lot of concerns. Hopefully, we've done our job to prepare and be ready to execute come Saturday night. All the execution parts are the things you worry about the most particularly in the first game."

Even with those feeling, Rodriguez says that he believes season openers in the past have been similar to the one he will have on Saturday night.

"Well, this sounds like coach speak, but I think all the openers feel pretty much the same," he said. "I think you get a lot of nerves out. I'll be excited. I bet you're more nervous if you're not really sure if you're prepared. I'll have some nerves because it's the first game and not sure exactly how we're going to play. You know if we do our job as coaches and prepare well, we will be more excited than nervous.

"As I told them, when the game comes it's the players' show. We have to do a good job as coaches getting them ready and hopefully putting them in the right situation, but I'm anxious to watch them have some fun because practices for football are not always the most fun. We try to make it a little bit of fun, but you know you work hard in practice and workouts."

While some may be overlooking Toledo because it is not the biggest name, Rodriguez says that is not the case for Arizona.

"They should have beat Ohio State and I think Syracuse is the other one they should have won," Rodriguez said. "They have two experienced quarterbacks coming back. And even though they have a new head coach, he was on the staff, so they can run the same offense. The only thing they may do differently is some stuff defensively.

"They're a very dangerous team and they're going to come with a lot of confidence. We have got to play well. I've probably said this enough times, we are not good enough to play poorly and win any games. We have to play well and play hard.

"Then we will see what happens. Our guys are capable of doing it. They're capable of playing well. We've seen them practice well. Now we just have to put it together on Saturday night."

With the first game on the horizon, Rodriguez is ready to start his career at Arizona on a positive note and fulfill his goals.

"To build the best program in America, I'd like to prove that we can do that, and I believe we can," Rodriguez said of his biggest goal. "And it's a process. I don't know if it will happen overnight, I hope it does, particularly for our seniors.

"But the process of doing that and the way we build our program, that's certainly an individual goal of mine, you know, take this program to the Rose Bowl and win it, that'd be a pretty nice deal, when and if that happens."


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