9/28 Football Notebook

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Sunday. Read on to see what he says about Marcus Mariota, offensive strategy, and more.

  • As Arizona game plans for Oregon, being able to run the ball early is not as important as one might think.

    "It depends on how they play us," Rich Rodriguez said. "We can’t force the issue. If somebody is going to put extra guys in the box and force you to throw, you have to be able to throw. Sometimes I’m stubborn and we keep trying to run it, but our system runs better when we run plays based on the numbers."

  • When asked to compare Marcus Mariota and Anu Solomon, Rodriguez pointed to their knowledge of the game.

    "I think they both kind of have a really good feel for the game," he said. "Marcus is three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier and a couple tenths faster, probably has a stronger arm. I think they both have a knack and a feel for seeing the field and understanding the offenses. I think Mariota is the Heisman front runner in my opinion. Anu is not quite there yet, but they are fun to watch."

  • Rodriguez is not downplaying the fact that Thursday's game will be on national television and is the biggest of the season so far.

    "You better enjoy these types of games," Rodriguez said. "I tell the players all of our games are important, all of our games are on TV, but there are a couple that are kind of showcase games that everybody in the country is going to be watching. I am sure most of them are tuned in to watch Oregon, not Arizona, but we’re going to be there while they are doing it, so I hope our guys are excited."

  • Arizona was able to overcome a slow start against California, but that likely would not be the case against Oregon.

    "I would like to think we could come back, but you get down against a team like Oregon it is going to be really hard because you know they’re going to score," Rodriguez said. "We’ve got to get some stops first and foremost and offensively we have to get some first downs. That’s the key, we can’t just get three and outs and throw our defense back out there."

  • One aspect of the offense Rodriguez does not plan on changing is the pace, as he believes Arizona is the best when it is going fast.

    "We have to do what we do and I think they are going to do what they do," he said. "I think the most important thing is getting first downs and that’s why frankly I thought we were able to win last year. We didn't hardly get any big plays, but we got a lot of first downs and were able to keep our defense off the field for long stretches."

  • It may not seem possible, but Rodriguez believes that Mariota is actually better than he was last season.

    "I think he’s faster," Rodriguez said. "I don’t know if he could be faster, he was fast last year, but he’s faster. I think he is stronger and certainly he has grown up in the offense, so he has a command of it where you could tell he is really comfortable."

  • Two players decided to leave the team this past weekend, each for a different reason.

    "Jordan Allen has decided not to play football any more," Rodriguez said. "I just talked to him today and he is going to concentrate on his education and career post football. I think he (Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea) is going to try to continue to play football, possibly back home in Hawaii."

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