Rodriguez preparing for first ASU game

Rich Rodriguez will have his first taste of the Arizona-Arizona State rivalry on Friday. Read on for his thoughts on the game, how to approach it, and more.

Friday will be Rich Rodriguez's first experience with the rivalry between Arizona and Arizona State. Although Rodriguez realizes that it is a big rivalry, the preparation this week will not change.

"We prepare for every game with the same focus and intensity, and we'll be doing the same against Arizona State," Rodriguez said. "After I got hired, I heard about the rivalry from all the fans and alumni during the off-season. We're really just treating this game like any other game, but of course, there will be a lot more attention because of the rivalry.

"I think every game is pretty much the same. They are all really important. The attention for rivalry games probably occurs more in the off-season but I don't have a particular philosophy when preparing for rivalry games."

For Rodriguez, keeping composure during Friday's game should be easy due to his coaching experience. However, he has been careful to stress to his team that it needs to stay calm no matter what may happen in the game.

"There's going to be a lot of intensity," Rodriguez said. "This shouldn't be a game where I have to do all of the motivational tactics to get guys excited. It's a rivalry game, an in-state game and a conference game. Everything is in place.

"This should be easy to motivate. On the flip side, we have to be able to keep our poise and composure because there is going to be a lot of intensity out there. That goes back to being disciplined and not making selfish decisions that will hurt your team."

Arizona's defense will once again be challenged by a dangerous offense and Rodriguez admitted that it has had a lot of work to do this week in order to prepare.

"I have been really impressed," Rodriguez said of the ASU offense. "They have some really talented players, and they are big up front. Their quarterback plays extremely well. They do some similar stuff that we do along with different things.

"They have deep pass plays, play action stuff, and run-pass stuff where you think the quarterback is running then throw it out late to the wide receiver or slot receiver. They do shifts, motions and have different formations. In a really short week, we have a lot of work to do on defense."

On defense, Arizona is preparing to see numerous blitzes from the Sun Devil defense, as it has been the theme of ASU's approach this season.

"They blitz a lot, I think it is over 50 percent of the time that they bring pressure, but they also bring pressure without blitzing," Rodriguez said. "In the last game, they had a three-man rush which brought a lot of pressure.

"They have great defensive players like Will Sutton, who is a potential first-round draft pick. They are a big pressure team. They are able to get pressure without bringing extra guys and that is a big concern for us."

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