11/3 Football Notebook

Rich Rodriguez held his weekly press conference on Monday. Read on for his thoughts on the loss to UCLA, play of the offense, and much more.

  • When looking at the film from the loss to UCLA, Rich Rodriguez believes there were numerous reasons why the offense struggled.

    "Basically a lack of execution," Rodriguez said. "There are so many things we could do better. There are always calls we like to have back as coaches, there’s balls we dropped our guys hadn’t dropped all year, we missed a couple protections we hadn’t missed all year, they got pressure with a four man rush, which hadn’t happened much all year.

    "I think we pressed a little bit overall. Offensively, when things weren’t going well, instead of just letting the game comes to us I think we pressed a little bit. Sometimes when you are a real strong competitor like our guys are that happens and it was a lesson learned.

    "When you are playing an athletic team, a very good team like that on the road, you just have to not panic and not worry about things and just try to execute and eventually it will fall into place."

  • Some may believe that having a bad offensive game is inevitable, but Rodriguez pointed to the struggle on first down as a major reason why it could never get a rhythm going.

    "You hope that you don’t run into a game where you fail to get some positive yards on first and second down," he said. "That was a big key for us. Our third downs were poor, but a lot of them were third down and longs. It’s hard for anybody to execute a lot of third and longs, 3rd and 10, 3rd and 12. Our first and second down, particularly in the run game, wasn’t what it needed to be to win."

  • After the loss to the Bruins, Rodriguez expressed disappointment in the overall focus of the team.

    "The thing that threw me off is I thought our Tuesday practice was really good," he said. "I didn't see missed assignments in practice. I want our guys to have fun. I want them to enjoy the experience and they do

    "I generally think our guys love being around each other and love being at Arizona, love being a part of the program. They were almost too joyous and I would have said things more had I thought we had missed assignments in practice or I didn’t think the focus was there.

    "I thought the guys were just feeling good about themselves and they were excited. Then we didn't play well, so I re-evaluated that maybe I should have yelled at them when they were laughing. I got thrown off because it didn’t affect practice."

  • Solomon has not run as much as of late as he did earlier in the season, but Arizona's head coach does not seem to be too concerned.

    "I think he is elusive enough," Rodriguez said. "He’s not going to win foot races and out run people, but he is athletic enough to get some positive things. I thought he picked his moments well. There were a couple times he scrambled and there the ball and the ball was dropped.

    "That wasn’t a big concern. There were a couple reads maybe he could have pulled it, but there was also a couple he could have gave it. That is going to happen over the course of a game right now and sometimes he is 100 percent on, sometimes he’s not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be scoring some points."

  • Arizona fans were not happy with the hit that Tahaan Goodman laid on Austin Hill, but Rodriguez does not think it was a dirty play.

    "Austin was feeling pretty good yesterday," Rodriguez said. "What I can see on the film, it didn’t look like helmet to helmet. But even if it wasn’t helmet to helmet, you aren’t supposed to launch into a guy and it didn’t look like he launched into him too.

    "It looked like a clean hit and Austin was bobbling the ball or something like that at the time, so I didn't have a problem with it."

  • When it comes to Jourdon Grandon's ejection for targeting, it seems that Rodriguez understands why it happened.

    "Looking at the definition of using the crown of your helmet, targeting is sometimes equated to head to head, but the rule is launching or using the crown of your helmet," Rodriguez said. "His head was down.

    "There’s a reason there’s a rule and it is because it is dangerous not only for the guy you might be hitting, but certainly for the guy that is using the crown of his helmet. Our guys have been told not to use the crown of the helmet in any situation and I think that is what they saw.

    "I don’t think it was a vicious intent or anything of that nature, but if you look at the letter of the law and if the crown of the helmet was used in a tackle, it was."

  • Nearly every team in the country is battling injury, but Arizona's struggle is with the lack of depth behind those injured players.

    "Compared to other teams we are probably pretty similar," he said. "The concern is that we were thin coming into the season and were hoping to be healthy going into the last six weeks and we’re not as healthy physically as I would like to be, but I am sure every coach would tell you that.

    "We backed off in practice a couple weeks ago. We only go in pads one day a week, Tuesday, and Wednesday it is half pads. It’s not like we are going to beat them up during the week, but we’re playing a lot of plays.

    "Eventually we will get to a point where we should be closer to two deep and rotating a lot of guys in, but we haven’t been there the last couple of years in the program. We’re not there right now, and our goal is to develop that kind of depth in the next couple years."

  • Scooby Wright won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row and it does not come as much of a surprise to Rodriguez.

    "He’s been our most consistent football player, period, and I have probably said that in every game," Rodriguez said. "Scooby plays with a passion and plays like he wants to prove himself and I think because of his attitude he will keep getting better.

    "I am in the weight room 6:30 this morning working out and there’s Scooby Wright working out by himself and he doesn’t have to be there, but that’s Scooby being Scooby.

    "He’s grown up in our system, so as time goes on, he will almost become like an extension of Coach Casteel out there and be able to line everybody up. His knowledge of our scheme is getting better every week."

  • Cam Denson's first career start came against UCLA and while he played relatively well, the freshman also got beat on a 70-yard touchdown.

    "I think every play a freshman gets, particularly when they are starting for the first time, is valuable for his experience," Rodriguez said. "You don’t want him to have a bad experience, but corners better have short memories anyway.

    "There is not a corner out there, whether you are a freshman or a senior, that has not gotten beat or will get beat at times. The thing about Cam is that he is a very competitive guy and I thought after that play he settled down and made some good ones. Cam is going to be a great player and that was a tough situation to be in.

    "His eyes were right, so Coach Lockwood will work with him to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I thought Cam in that kind of environment acquitted himself pretty well for the most part."

  • Attention now turns to Colorado and Rodriguez sees bad luck as one of the reasons why the Buffs' record may not be indicative of what kind of team they are.

    "They lost in double overtime to UCLA, which we know how talented they are, a close game against Cal, a close game against Oregon State, and yet they are moving the football almost as well as anybody in the conference," he said.

    "Their numbers are pretty much equal to ours in a lot of respects. They are playing really hard. You have to give Mike and his staff a lot of credit because they have the attitude and environment right where he wants it. The next step for them is to pull out some close wins."

    "I thought they were clearly better last year. I think they got off to a good start last year and were better, but this year they have taken another step. We’re not good enough to play poorly and win. We could play well and still not win.

    "If we play poorly Saturday we will lose and I think that is life in the Pac-12 and where we are at right now. Eventually I want to get to the point where we are so good we can have moments like we did Saturday and still win, but we’re not there right now."

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