10/20 Football Notebook

Rich Rodriguez met with the media on Monday. Read on for his thoughts on Arizona's depth, Washington State, and more.

  • Rich Rodriguez opened up this week's press conference with compliments for Arizona's opponent this week, Washington State.

    "I thought we had a pretty good off week," Rodriguez said. "We tried to get some guys healthy, worked on some fundamentals and try to get a head start on Washington State. I’m sure they did the same thing. A lot of people talk about their offense and their ability to throw the ball from every part of the field with an experienced quarterback and really good wide outs.

    "They also ran the ball well against us last year, so we have to be prepared for that. Defensively, they do a lot of movement, a lot of different blitzes, and a lot of different looks that we haven’t seen so far this year."

  • The Pac-12 remains wide open and Rich Rodriguez says that he is not surprised by how it is all playing out.

    "It’s been predictable not just in our league, but in other leagues," Rodriguez said. "There is still so much football left. As coaches sometimes before the season when we talk about parity I think sometimes people just think it is coach speak and it will all shake out like it is supposed to, but I really think it is here to stay in college football.

    "There’s good players in every program, innovative and different schemes in every program. It used to be home field advantage was a big deal and it is still an advantage in some respects, but with the quality of play of the quarterbacks in college football nowadays, the so called upset is now longer prevalent."

  • When looking at Anu Solomon's habit of having a better second half than first, Rodriguez believes it comes down to one simple factor.

    "I think it is a matter of execution," Rodriguez said. "When you look back at it, some of the times when we haven’t scored it wasn’t the quarterback. It could have been a breakdown in protection, a breakdown in the routes. To his credit he stays in it and mentally he has been sharp.

    "We just execute better at times in the second half. Even though there are times we want a decision back, Anu has been pretty sharp in making the decision whether he should run or throw it."

  • Jared Baker picked up snaps when Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson went down and he performed relatively well.

    "I think he played pretty well," Rodriguez said. "He caught the ball well, did a good job running. We have a lot of confidence in playing him, but Nick Wilson and Terris Jones-Grigsby were our top two for a reason.

    "Jared has been right next to them anyway. I thought he did pretty well and gave us a little confidence in him. I think you have to be deep at tailback, especially with the way our schedule is going to be set up the next six weeks."

  • Not only is depth at running back important, but the defense is not where Rodriguez would like to see it.

    "Up front we don’t have a lot of depth," Rodriguez said. "We don’t have any depth at all to speak of on defense as far as being at the point where we are playing 22 guys on defense. Eventually we will, but we are not there right now.

    "We’re not a deep team and that’s concerning with our schedule coming up, but we have addressed it with recruiting and some of our younger guys have had opportunities and come in and played pretty well."

  • Washington State's offense has become difficult to defend because it is able to succeed in numerous different ways.

    "They will run just enough to keep you honest, they did it against us last year," Rodriguez said. "They will throw the ball to any of the guys at any part of the field. They do a really good job of running after the catch. Sometimes the throws are screens where it’s really just an extend gunplay on the perimeter, so even though it is a pass, it is really a run play.

    "They do a bunch of screens and if you leave your guys one-on-one, particularly one-on-one with soft coverage or even with press coverage, they will throw it straight out there and get a good block and make somebody miss."

  • In addition, Washington State's offense is largely effective because of the ability of quarterback Connor Halliday.

    "Halliday is obviously a very talented guy and can make all the throws, but their wide receiver crew is really, really good," Rodriguez said. "They know what they are doing. It seems like they throw eight to ten different route packages and that’s all they run, but within those route packages they have adjustments based on coverage.

    "If you look at his physical abilities, his size and his arm strength, and beyond that it is his ability to read a coverage and extend a play and be able to scan the whole field. His ability to see the field and get rid of the ball so quickly I think will translate to the NFL level. That is what the NFL has become, a shotgun, get rid of the ball quick, spread you from sideline to sideline kind of league."

  • Rodriguez does not necessarily think Washington State will come out with extra motivation because Arizona is ranked, but does expect there to be a more hostile crowd.

    "I think if you are highly ranked you probably get a bigger crowd on the road and you get more intensity from that standpoint," he said. "I think players probably get juiced up if they are playing a ranked team and have an opportunity to get some attention, but I think more than anything it will affect the crowd.

    "Once the ball is kicked off, kids play hard. They play hard on all levels. I told our players I would expect us to do the same no matter if we’re playing a ranked team or an unranked team."

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