10/6 Football Notebook

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday to discuss the win over Oregon, challenges USC presents, and more. Read on for all the latest.

  • As happy as Arizona was after defeating Oregon, it did not take long for the coaching staff and players to focus on the next task at hand.

    "After the big road win we got on the road recruiting a little bit and that was good, coaches were excited about that," Rodriguez said. "Players had a couple of days to rest and come back to earth so to speak. I was impressed with our players’ attitudes going into the game and I was impressed with their attitude after.

    "We celebrated in the locker room and it was fun, but then we got on the plane and maybe because it was so late, I think 5 to 10 minutes after take off it was as quiet as you can imagine. Our guys have had the ability to focus pretty quickly and I think they know how important this one is too."

  • Not only did the Wildcats take the right attitude after defeating Oregon, but they know what they have ahead of them in USC.

    "I told them I don’t mind if people pat them on the back and all that and are talking good things about them because those are probably the same people that weren't even mentioning them a week or two ago," Rodriguez said. "It’s like poison, it’s safe as long as you don’t swallow it.

    "They understand you can do all the rankings and all that stuff, but from what I understand USC is still favored and we all understand why. There’s one guy in our program that was recruited and offered by USC and he was there first and he was no longer there and is now our backup quarterback. Our guys know how talented they are."

  • This past weekend was one of the wildest in recent memory and Rodriguez believes that has a lot to do with the overall parity in college football.

    "I knew and still believe our league is deep or deeper than any league in the country and throughout the course of the season there was going to be a lot of close games," he said.

    "The way some of them ended has been unprecedented, whether it has been Hail Marys or missing short field goals. It’s just nuts. That’s why Division I-A football and college football in particular is exciting. Truly week to week you see the emotions and momentum and things change and the parity is here and I think it is here to stay."

  • Scooby Wright came up big against Oregon once again and Rodriguez feels he is means more to the football program than simply being a good player.

    "He’s a competitive guy that loves football and I think he epitomizes what we are trying to build in our program," Rodriguez said. "I think whatever those rankings are, he was deserving of a whole lot more coming out of high school, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to us, all that matters is what kind of player he is when he gets in your program, what kind of person he is.

    "He is a talented guy, he is strong and can run and has a good feel for the game, but a lot of his success is because of how much he loves football, how he prepares, and his approach to the game. That is a great example for the rest of the guys to see."

  • Rodriguez is happy that Arizona is ranked, but acknowledges it is still early in the season.

    "The rankings, a lot of people have asked me the past 24 hours about being ranked and I said I don't mind because it doesn't matter," he said. "It matters at the end of the regular season, but it doesn't matter now. If it helps get a little bounce in our guys’ steps and the fans to be happy and sell out the stadium Saturday night, so be it."

  • One of the biggest challenges Arizona's offense will have on Saturday is neutralizing USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

    "You’re talking about a guy that is 6-5, 300 pounds that’s as fast as our skill players," Rodriguez said. "He’s a first rounder and going to be playing for a long time. You don’t see them all the time and nobody sees that kind of guy every week.

    "We have to be really good technique wise. He is going to beat you sometimes and you understand and know that, but you don’t want him to beat you because you are being sloppy with your technique."

  • Tyrell Johnson is giving Arizona good field position as of late and a big part of that is because of how fast he is.

    "I’ve said it before, he’s our fastest guy," Rodriguez said. "It’s not even close. Some of the other guys will say they can race him, but if you race him you’ll lose and it won’t be pretty. He’s a competitive guy too.

    "We have to try to get him on the field a little bit more. He’s still learning and he’s a young guy, but he will mix it up in there too. He’s not just fast, he has some toughness too."

  • When discussing where the Arizona program is currently, Rodriguez gave some insight into the type of player he currently has.

    "They probably enjoy the games a lot more than practice," he said. "They’re like ‘Gosh I can’t wait to get there. Coach Rod is on the sidelines and he can yell at me, but I can’t hear him anyway.’ They are going to go out there and have some fun. More than anything, we truly want guys in this program that love football. Not like it, but love it and need it.

    "Those kind of guys will do whatever it takes to win. They will lift more weights, practice a little bit harder, prepare a little bit better, and that mentality once it seeps into your program is a whole lot of fun to be around. We’re getting closer to that. We’re not totally where we are going to be in the future, but we’re close to that and so the guys love playing."

  • So far this season, Arizona has gotten contributions from numerous walk-ons, including Parker Zellers, Jared Tevis, and Terris Jones-Grigsby. Like any other player, Rodriguez believes walk-ons are vital to Arizona's success.

    "I don’t think we can win a league championship or get to a Rose Bowl or whatever without walk-ons," he said. "I don’t think you can win a championship with all walk-ons either, you have to have guys you can recruit and all that, but particularly now in our program we have to have guys like Parker, Terris, and Jared to come in and not only for what they do on offense and defense, but on special teams and practice.

    "Walk-ons and scholarship guys are all treated the same. There’s no difference. I have seen places where they have different locker rooms for a walk-on and a scholarship guy. Are you kidding me? That would never happen. Our walk-ons are going to have a great deal of respect here from everybody in the program and a lot of times guys don't know who is a walk-on and who’s not and that’s how we like it."

  • Rodriguez has consistently talked about how calm Anu Solomon is and the game at Oregon was no different.

    "He was probably a little more nervous," Rodriguez said. "It was a big game and a big crowd on the road and it was loud, but he has a certain poise about him that is pretty neat for a redshirt freshman. He made a few mistakes and missed a few things here and there, but he also made some big plays too.

    "I think his poise has been on display pretty much all year and he will keep getting better. He is still going to have mistakes, but gosh this guy has a lot of those intangibles you want in a quarterback."

  • Arizona is the underdog against USC, but it does not seem as if Rodriguez will focus too much on that angle.

    "They should feel good about themselves, that was a big road win, but that’s not going to get us a first down against USC," he said. "I hope they have a chip on their shoulder because none of them were recruited by them and they want to prove they can play.

    "Would I take a roster full of five-stars? Tomorrow. But the fact is we are going to have to play extremely well, extremely hard, and play to the end and see what happens."

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