9/3 Football Notebook

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday. Read on to see what he said about the offense, Tra'Mayne Bondurant, and more.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday and here are some notes to take away from the press conference.

  • Arizona had mixed results on special teams in the season opener, as freshman Nate Phillips muffed two punts and Jake Smith missed a field goal.

    "Going by units, the kickoff unit was good, the kickoff return, we didn't have any," Rodriguez said. "The punt team was below average and the punt return was awful. We missed the one field goal and the pressure on the field goal block was pretty good. A couple of the units were pretty good and a couple of the units were really bad.

    "I'm disappointed because we put a lot of time into it and we'll continue to fix it and I think we can fire some guys and hire some guys and do some switching out, but some of that comes back to us as coaches and me and make sure that we're getting that taught right and emphasized right. I have to make sure I emphasize it. Coach (Charlie) Ragle does a good job of emphasizing it, but we have to get better there."

  • Speaking of Phillips, it seems that Rodriguez will give him another chance to return punts this week.

    "I don't know if he dropped one in practice," Rodriguez said. "He was maybe a little nervous and getting used to the lights. The lights are a little different. We've practiced a couple of times at night in the stadium, but it's a little different when it's live. But he'll be fine.

    "Hopefully that will be the last two he ever drops. Johnny (Jackson) did a nice job when he got back there. Nate will still return some as will Samajie Grant, the other freshman."

  • Tra'Mayne Bondurant won Pac-12 Player of the Week after his two interceptions and touchdown against NAU.

    "He loves playing the game," Rodriguez said of Bondurant. "Some guys just have a feel and recognize things quicker. I think all the best defensive players recognize things a little quicker and have a way of getting around blocks or shedding blocks or making the play.

    "That's what Tra'Mayne does. He has good size, but he doesn't overwhelm you with his strength or his speed, he's just got great, great instincts. He's one of the guys that as good of instincts as anyone we have on the team."

  • Arizona's head coach once again reiterated that he believes Arizona must take a step forward in the passing game if it is going to be successful.

    "We have to be able to throw the ball better than we did Friday night," Rodriguez said. "I was really conservative in the play-calling. I told the team that, I told the coaches that. We could get by on Friday because we could run the ball, we had a nice lead and they weren't scoring. But, going forward, we're going to have to throw the ball better. In practice, we work more on the throwing game than the running game. So, I think it's there. We've seen it happen. But, teams are going to put everyone in there if you don't have the threat of a passing game.

    "It's not so much B.J. (Denker) to Terrence Miller, it's whoever the quarterback is to whoever the receivers and tight ends are. So, I think we'll work really hard on that. I was really ultra conservative in our play calling and we only had 47 plays. If we had 80 plays and only thrown it 10 times, that'd be one thing unless those 70 runs are really, really good. I'm not too concerned about it right now."

  • Still, Rodriguez also said that he is going to do what is necessary in order to help lead Arizona to a win.

    "We go into every game and do what we need to do to win," he said. "If we have to run 100 times to win, we'll run 100 times. If we have to pass 100 times to win, we'll pass 100 times. I said that before that last year.

    "People would say ‘all you did was run the ball with Denard (Robinson) and Pat White' and then I think the Stanford game, we threw it 71 times with Matt Scott. So now all we do is throw the ball. Whatever it takes to win, that's what we're going to do. I'm not married or set on having to do one or the other. We do what we have to win the game."

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