9/15 Football Notebook

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday. Read on for his thoughts on Cal, the play of the defense, and more.

  • Rich Rodriguez had an opportunity to watch the tape from the Nevada game and his opinion did not change much from Saturday.

    "My impressions of the game were about the same as right afterwards," Rodriguez said. "There were some moments we played well and there are some other moments we didn't play well. Offensively I think we were pretty efficient, but we had a couple of big mistakes.

    "Defensively, we didn't do a good job of getting off blocks. We blew a couple coverages, which was uncharacteristic for us. It allowed them to control the ball a bit and limit our possessions. We have to get a lot better defensively.

    "We did do a nice job in the red zone and kept them to a couple field goals and at the end of the game got some stops, but we are going to have to play a whole lot better against an explosive Cal team this weekend."

  • The defense's job doesn't get any easier this week, as the Wildcats will have to contain California quarterback Jared Goff.

    "He’s got a NFL arm, big guy, sees the field well, and he’s a tough competitor," Rodriguez said. "It looks like to me he’s even bigger and stronger now. He had the off-season to fix his shoulder up, so he is throwing the ball even better than he did last year and he was good last year. He’s a talented guy and against a pretty talented Northwestern team up there they moved the ball pretty efficiently."

  • After the win over Nevada, Anu Solomon classified his performance as horrible. On Monday, Rodriguez gave some insight into why he would think that.

    "I think he is harder on himself than we could probably ever be," he said. "He is a really competitive guy. He is kind of a quiet competitor, he really doesn’t say a whole lot. The good thing about his growth and maturation is that when we do correct him or point out a mistake, he knows it already.

    "He is going to keep getting better. We have other quarterbacks too that are pretty good but Anu, for a redshirt freshman, I think he’s acquitted himself pretty well and the competition will continue to grow as we get into the Pac-12."

  • The offense has come along slowly in terms of the amount of different plays Arizona has run and a lot of that has to do with the overall youth on that side of the ball.

    "Normally with a younger guy you ease some stuff in there and I think in a lot of ways it has probably helped us be more efficient by being simpler in some respects, but it wasn’t only for him because we knew we were going to be young at running back and maybe even some youth at wide receiver," Rodriguez said.

    "Anu has been able to handle everything mentally as much, or even more, than we could put on him. As the season goes on we will continue to grow our package because he can handle it and I think the guys up front can handle it as well."

  • With Arizona facing a strong passing team this week, it appears that Tra'Mayne Bondurant is in line for more playing time.

    "He will probably play more," Rodriguez said. "He played more this past game on special teams and going forward, particularly when you are playing spread teams, we will play more defensive backs and less bigger guys I guess you could say. Tra’Mayne has worked hard in practice to get back into the fold.

    "We’re not going a lot of good on good, we’re going a lot of scout team in practice, but basically he had to work to get into shape as a couple of other guys did. He is doing a good job of that and doing the stuff we ask him to do."

  • It's no secret that Nick Wilson is off to a fast start and Rodriguez says a big reason for that is because of his ability to be coached.

    "He’s been doing what he’s coached," Rodriguez said. "The thing he has done the best is taking Coach Magee’s coaching of the system and where to press the blocks, where the blocks are coming from, when he should cut back and how he should cut back. He’s taken that to heart and really learned it well as a freshman.

    "He’s pressing the blocks as well as any freshman I have ever had as far as understanding that part and understanding protection. He is really good in pass protection, which is usually a harder thing for younger guys to come by."

  • Rodriguez did not mince words when discussing how he feels about the return game so far this season.

    "The kick return has just been awful," he said. "It’s been as bad a kick return in college football history. It’s just been kick the ball in the end zone and let’s take the ball at the 25 and we will high five each other. We’ve worked hard on it and will continue to work hard on it, but I wonder if teams will even continue to kick it in the end zone.

    "They may just try to kick it to the like the ten and pin it inside the 15. We have guys that can return. I think we have a couple guys that will hit it and can be really good return guys. It’s probably a combination of what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with. It needs to get fixed."

  • In order to compare last year's freshman class to this year's, Rodriguez believes you have to take several factors into account.

    "I think this recruiting class is just as good if not better, but the difference is that last year those guys had to play because that’s all we had," he said. "This year they don’t have to, plus I would like to think that the guys that played last year have gotten better. The key is not just who you’re bringing in, but are the guys you’re bringing in getting better every year?

    "It’s like having returning starters. If that returning starter wasn’t any good last year, he isn’t helping your team. If he is better than he was a year ago then you will be better than you were a year ago. That’s why I am really proud of that freshman class last year because I think, to a man, every one of them are better.

    "That’s going to be the key to our program going forward. We want to get really good recruits and I think we are, but the key is our development of them throughout their four or five years on campus."

  • Derrick Turituri got the start against Nevada and reviews from his performance have been positive.

    "Turituri is a guy that can bench the building,' Rodriguez said. "He’s a strong guy, has a good motor, and him and Scooby may be our two best pass rusher guys. They are also playing linebacker in our scheme.

    "One thing I do like that we can do is that we can bring a multitude of linebackers or safeties to add on to the rush and give a different look, but Turituri is a 250-pound muscle head that can do some good things in the pass rush."

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