Arizona preparing for first Pac-12 challenge

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday. Read on to see his thoughts on the Huskies, what Arizona needs to do defensively, and more.

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday as the Wildcats continue to prepare for Saturday's game at Washington.

"It's good to be back in game week," Rodriguez said. "I'm sure the players are excited about getting back into action. They all know how important this one is and obviously conference play begins. It's a great challenge for us, up there in a tough environment against a very good team.

"We have to have a good week in practice. I told our players that we need our best week of practice. Hopefully, we will do all that starting tomorrow (Tuesday)."

The coaching staff has not had much difficulty motivating the players despite the fact that the schedule only calls for one game in a three-week period.

"It hasn't been too bad because we have another open date after this one," Rodriguez said. "We're not home for another three weeks, but our guys, really since the beginning of camp, have been pretty focused the whole time, so their maturity, so far, has been really good.

"It will get tested in these couple of weeks, but they had good practices last week for an open date, and they had a pretty good practice last night, as well."

Speaking of tests, Rodriguez somewhat made light of the fact that Seattle has gained a reputation as being a difficult place to play.

"It's not like the old Roman days," he said. "They aren't going to have guns and knives and our life is at stake. It's just a football game. I hear it is pretty loud. Everybody says it's really loud. They aren't going to eat us are they?"

Much of Washington's success has had to do with Bishop Sankey, who has been among the leading rushers in the country.

"He's a strong runner," Rodriguez said. "He is good in all facets of the game. He makes you tackle. I think that is the biggest similarity to him and Ka'Deem is that they are guys that make you put them on the ground. They aren't just going to go down with an arm tackle."

In addition, Keith Price has been extremely efficient in the passing game and also presents the threat of being able to run.

""Mobile and athletic quarterbacks, any coach will tell you, that they are tough to go against," Rodriguez said. "Keith Price will make plays on schedule, but he will make the unscheduled ones, too. He will extend the play, so you have to be disciplined in your coverage downfield and you have to keep it contained.

"Here's a guy who has started for at least three years. The guy has played a lot of football; he's very talented. He's comfortable with what they're doing now."

The Huskies have changed their offensive pace from last season and it will be up to the defense to adjust to the no-huddle.

"We like to that we do it enough against each other in practice that we should be okay with it," Rodriguez said. "But it is still stressful for a defense, and that's why we do it.

"They, like us, if you get multiple first downs, if they can control the tempo and get into rhythm it really puts more stress on the defense."

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