9/8 Football Notebook

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday to discuss the win over UTSA, play of the defense, Anu Solomon, and more. Read on for the latest.

  • Arizona has already watched film from the win over UTSA and no player has likely watched it as much as quarterback Anu Solomon.

    "I think Anu has watched it probably three or four times," Rich Rodriguez said. "He watched it with Coach Smith twice and myself twice. There are a lot of things we can get better at, but I think our guys also realize that we’re not good enough to play poorly and win against anybody, but UTSA is a pretty good football team."

  • After watching the film, the offense may not have played as poorly as Rodriguez originally thought.

    "Assignment wise, we weren’t as bad as maybe I thought, but the execution wasn’t there at times," Rodriguez said. "I think you have to give them some credit for that too. They made some plays and were pretty active and did a really nice job.

    "There were also some things that were encouraging that we got better at. Believe it or not, I thought there were some things in the second game that were better than we did in the first game, particularly up front."

  • Rodriguez demands a lot from Solomon and is consistently telling the redshirt freshman that he needs to make sure he is mentally prepared each game.

    "Sometimes it’s pleasant, sometimes it’s not," Rodriguez said of a film session. "It’s always pleasant with me, I love it. Anu’s a very conscience guy and it’s not just what he’s doing or what the particular play is, but the philosophy behind it. Anu is sharp, he understands the philosophy, but in our offense, a quarterback doesn’t get a break mentally.

    "Some quarterbacks in certain systems, when they hand the ball off they just carry out the bootleg or whatever and they really have a break mentally from it. In our offense, our quarterback has to think on just about every snap. He doesn’t have to call a play, but he has to execute the play, think what he is going to do with the ball.

    "That’s a lot mentally, but he can handle it. I try to explain to him that you always has to be on mentally because there are so many decisions you need to make in a course of a game in this system."

  • Nick Wilson's success is not a surprise to Rodriguez, as the ideal situation coming out of high school was that Wilson would be ready to play.

    "With Kadeem’s situation and him leaving and also D.J., we were losing our two top veteran running backs, so he was going to have an opportunity," Rodriguez said. "We never promise anybody they will start or guarantee they will start as soon as they come in because that’s not fair to them or the other guys on the team, but I tell our recruits we don’t recruit anybody to be backups.

    "We’re going to recruit guys that are going to come in and compete right away and I think Nick knew that. He is still learning, but Coach Magee does a terrific job with our running backs. He is the best running back coach in the country. Nick has a good feel for learning quickly too and that is one reason why he plays so much."

    Wilson likely would not have gotten 30 carries if Terris Jones-Grigsby was healthy, but Rodriguez still does not have issues going to the hot hand.

    "You worry a little bit about if they will hit that freshman wall," Rodriguez said. "It’s higher level football and will he hit that wall as the season goes along as far as balancing academics and athletics. I think Nick is grounded pretty well.

    "We have to get guys more involved to run more. When Terris gets healthy and some of those other guys, he won’t have to carry 30 something times a game, but if he is healthy and doing good, we don’t mind handing off to the same dude."

  • The biggest concern on defense is the pass rush and Rodriguez believes the Wildcats need to improve in that area immediately.

    "We have not been able to generate a lot of pass rush," he said. "The one time in the last guy the guy took his shoe off, laced it up, took his other shoe off, laced it up, put a little extra tape on, and we still had not sacked him.

    "It was like 30 seconds. That was a three man rush and it us hard to get pressure with a three man rush. We have to get better at rushing the passer."

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