Rich Rodriguez Press Conference Notebook

Rich Rodriguez held his weekly press conference on Monday. Read on for the details.

* Rich Rodriguez started off his weekly press conference by discussing Saturday's win over Hawaii.

“After watching the film, I thought we made some positive steps offensively," Rodriguez said. "We executed some nice drives, the quarterback played pretty well and we got a lift off of J.J. [Taylor] when he got in there. 

"Defensively, I thought the first half we played okay, but the second half, not so much. We struggled to get off blocks, had some really silly penalties and didn’t tackle well. We have a lot of work to do. 

"Special teams wise, I was still a little disappointed. We are close on certain things, but there are other plays on special teams we have to get a lot better at. We have a lot of work to do. We have one of the best teams in the country coming in, maybe the most talented in our league. It’s going to be a big night Saturday night.”

* Brandon Dawkins played well against Hawaii not only because of his ability to run, but because of his decision-making as well.

"Brandon is a competitive runner, in other words, he tries to score every time he runs," Rodriguez said. "I think that is a bonus. The thing he did well on Saturday was his decision-making was good.

"His eyes were in the right spot, and there were a couple of times he maybe could have created a big play passing on the run. He was decisive in all of his actions, and I think that is why he gained some confidence as the game went on.”

* One issue Rodriguez doesn't believe Arizona will have is with motivation.

"These games are probably the easiest games to motivate for," he said. "As I told the guys, when you play a top-ranked team, there will be a lot of build up during the week.

"It is on the ESPN ticker all of the time and the score is constantly being flashed. You come to this level to play in those games, you want to be one of those top-ranked teams.

"When you play them, there should be a little extra juice because of the attention it will get and because of the challenge you are facing. If our guys want to prove that they can play at the highest level, they are going to get a chance because there are a whole bunch of dudes playing for Washington that are going to be playing on Sundays.”

* Jake Browning is one of the most efficient passers in the country and Rodriguez had plenty of praise for him on Monday.

“I remember recruiting him, he is very intelligent," Rodriguez said. "He was another that played in a great high school program, extremely well-coached coming out. He was kind of a gym-rat type of guy.

"You saw it as a true freshman, he was already composed beyond his years. He is even better this year in his second year as a starter. He makes all of the throws, athletic, but extremely intelligent. You don’t see him being fooled too often, which is a credit to his staff and to him as far as learning the game.”

* Although Washington has plenty of talent on offense, it's the defense that is the strength of the Huskies.

"They have three 300-plus pounders up front," Rodriguez said. "They’re probably as big and explosive as any team in the country, not just our league. They’re very active. NFL guys tell us they probably have seven guys on defense alone that are Sunday players. 

"It’s a great challenge for our guys. They’re active, well-coached and play hard. I just got done watching our film from last year, when we played awful and they killed us. There are a lot of things that we have to get better at in the next couple of days, but our guys work hard, and I know that they want to put on a better performance than we did a year ago.”

* Rodriguez has said numerous times that Arizona is not deep enough, but that doesn't mean he is eager to play guys that aren't ready.

"The injury situation got to us pretty good," he said. "Inevitably, when you have 85 guys on scholarship and some really good walk-ons like we have, you hope that you can play 50-60 guys, and keep guys healthy and fresh. We don’t just want to play a guy to play a guy; they have to be good enough to win with. 

"Most of the time we have developed that depth with guys on special teams. That is a way for them to get some experience. If recruiting keeps going like we think it’s going to be going, there will be more and more guys that will play, not just on special teams, but be in the rotation the next couple of years.

"We are trying to force depth a little bit. There have been a lot of guys on defense especially, and we’re also rolling a lot of wide receivers in there. Unfortunately, injuries affect your depth because you can’t alternate guys as much as you want. We learned that last year."

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