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9/20 Arizona Football Notebook

Rich Rodriguez discusses numerous topics as Arizona prepares for Washington.

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* With the injury to Nick Wilson, Tyrell Johnson has seen the majority of his practice snaps this week at running back.

“T.J. is a smart guy,” Rich Rodriguez said. “He understands our system. He can play the slot receiver and running back and knows it really well. He understands football, so his role is going to continue to increase.

“He hasn’t played as much tailback because we had other guys. He’s not exclusively there, but taking a lot more reps there.”

* Rodriguez did not give much insight into the starting quarterback, but Solomon will need to show he is healthy before given a chance.

“He did not do much today,” Rodriguez said. “He’s got to practice. Quarterback you have to be able to put the work in and keep your timing down and all that.”

* Special teams have been a source of major concern for Rodriguez.

“We have worked so hard on it,” he said. “Part of it has been the other teams have done a good job with the placement of their kicks, but we expected to be more efficient in the return game and some of our other special teams stuff.

“Josh Pollack has been really solid for a first time guy both kicking and punting. Edgar has been solid on his kickoffs, although a couple of times he has not hit it as well as he liked. It‘s just that some of the other stuff has not been bad, but not up to our expectations.”

* Brandon Dawkins continues to work to improve and the coaching staff has noticed he is getting better with his reads.

“Some of the fundamental stuff, I think as he gets more experience he will be even better at it,” Rodriguez said. “The last game was a lot better. The first start there was a lot of things to clean up.

“Coach Smith has done a really good job with him. There are still a lot of nuances in each play that as we run them more and more and more, he will understand not just how to run them, but why we run them.

“Knowing the why is a process that you hope they know from the start, but it takes a little while to understand why on every play and we’ll get there.”

* Washington is on a quarter system and thus has yet to start school.

“I think there is a little advantage for them from a preparation standpoint,” Rodriguez said. “You still have the same amount of hours you practice and meet, but they have a lot more rest time.

“I didn’t realize they were on quarter system, that’s depressing to me now. It’s probably a little advantage. I don’t know if it is a huge advantage because everybody works the same amount of time.”

* Rodriguez had high praise for Washington quarterback Jake Browning.

“I was really impressed with him last year, but you can tell he is more comfortable with everything,” he said. “They are doing more things offensively and he is seeing the field, almost spot on with every decision. Even for a second year player, that is pretty remarkable.”

* The Wildcats are aware that Washington is easily the biggest challenge of the young season.

“We haven’t played well in spurts in all three games, but in all three games we’ve played well,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve got to play well for four quarters to beat these guys and I think these guys know it. They know the intensity, the athleticism, the importance of every play is ratcheted up when you get into conference games.”


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