"It’s critical because of the ability to get first downs and get some tempo," Rodriguez said. "I always refer to it as playing a clean game, which means no negative yardage plays, no turnovers, and keeping on schedule.
"That was what we were able to do two years ago. We didn’t do it as well in the last game, but in this game we’ve got to get first downs and try to stay on schedule."
"We did a good job blocking up front," Rodriguez said. "I think our backs ran really hard and frankly we executed better at times. That is going to be the challenge. They are playing at a high level, so we have to execute offensively.
"Mariota, let’s face it, he’s going to get his stuff and their offense is going to get their yards. We have to try to limit their opportunities and chances."
"I would like to play somebody that is not really good, but when you play this game, you are going to play somebody really good," he said. "The thing about Oregon is philosophically we’re very similar, particularly offensively.
"They are going to play fast and their defense is used to seeing it and our defense is used to seeing it, but executing against it is a different deal."
"I think it is exciting that there is a four team playoff and there has been probably more talk about college football now than ever, but I have always believed that in Division I football, our playoff starts the first game," Rodriguez said. "The playoffs start week one and I think more people say now that’s right, that’s always been the case."
"I don’t sense it as much probably because nobody expects us to be here or expects us to win," he said. "I don’t think it has probably been as bothersome to me as maybe normally it would be.
"Our guys have been pretty mature and focused anyway on taking care at the task at hand."
"He’s played like a seasoned veteran," Rodriguez said. "There have been freshman moments, but he has been a great competitor. I think he has a pretty good grasp of our offense and the encouraging part is that his best football is still way out in front of him.
"One of his strengths is having a feel for the game and he has one now naturally, but he will be better in the next couple of years."