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10/24 Notebook: UA Prepping for Stanford

Rich Rodriguez discusses personnel changes, the bye week, and more.

* Arizona is coming off a bye week and it’s one that Rich Rodriguez was happy with. 

“It was certainly a much needed bye week,” Rodriguez said. “We got a couple days of practice in, worked on some fundamentals and got a little bit of a head start on Stanford. We had a couple extra days for guys to get healthy, which we needed. 

“For the coaches, we also spent a couple days recruiting, so I think it came at a great time. Certainly for us, with certain guys being injured, the bye week came at a good time to get some of those guys back. Guys were refreshed; last night we had a good meeting and good walk through session. We’ll be ready to play Saturday night.”

* Rodriguez continues to emphasize turnovers ad believes it will be difficult to beat better teams without them.

“I always remind the guys to play aggressively,” he said. “Some of it is, when you play aggressively, you will create some turnovers. Some of it is luck. We have emphasized it so much in practice from a standpoint of getting your hands on the ball from the beginning of camp, that it has been a little disappointing in the last few weeks that we haven’t gotten any. 

“We probably aren’t good enough to win games without getting turnovers, so that has been a point of contention for us as coaches, and it is our job as a staff to try to figure out ways of how we can get our guys in a position to make some plays. When we get our hands on it, we have to pick off the pass or get a fumble.”

* In terms of assessing personnel, Rich Rodriguez did not change much during the bye week.

“We assess everything, and personnel changes are ongoing,” he said. “I think that sometimes the assessment has to come because of injuries and sometimes it comes because of performance. 

“That is part of our job as coaches; we have to assess everything and figure out what we are doing. I don’t think you can change an offense or defense, or change all 11 people on all three phases, but I think you have to look at everything you are doing, what you are executing and what you are not executing. 

“It seems like it is a lot of time that we have do that, but you really don’t have a full week because you are on the road recruiting. It gives you some time to at least look at what guys are doing what and what you are doing well, then attack that going forward.”

* Arizona is now listing Samajie Grant exclusively at running back and it appears he will make his debut there this weekend.

“We experimented a little there a few week ago, but with Nick [Wilson] being injured again, [Samajie] has been almost exclusively at running back,” Rodriguez said. 

“He knows wide out; he is a veteran so he can play there anytime. We felt that we had to take what we could have and get him a lot of reps there. He is a competitive guy; he is fast and tough. 

“With everything going on there, at least he gives us an experienced player there. We needed that, so he has been playing running back. Tyrell Johnson has been a little banged up. We still have Zach Green, and we even moved Matt Morin. He is the jack of all trades, he has been playing some running back too. It has been an interesting situation for Coach Magee.”

* Anu Solomon has returned to practice and continues to take on a more active role as each day passes.

“He was able to get to practice, although we were limited,” Rodriguez said. “He was able to take team reps, not just individual. He was able to take reps with the team and throw and plant off of his foot, and run around a little bit. That is going to be the key to run this whole offense, and not just sitting in the pocket and passing.”

* There will be numerous factors that play into the starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Stanford.

“Not only health is the main part of it, but also what kind of plays we plan on opening up with and what we are doing throughout the game,” Rodriguez said. 

“I’ve said this many times, even though a lot of people have different ways of how they are handling quarterbacks, we treat it like another position. We’ll change quarterbacks based on a particular type of play we want to run. We rotate them in at practice that way so it is something they are accustomed to.”

* Rodriguez was asked if it is harder to reach a certain level of success or maintain it and the Arizona coach feels both are difficult. 

“I’ve been asked that quite a bit over the years,” he said. ’Hey coach, is it harder to get up there or stay up there?’ I think it’s both. It’s hard to get there when you’re really down because you have to recruit. 

“If you recruit well and stay healthy, you can stay up there. Those folks that you’re competing against are working hard too. Sometimes it takes a few years, like Colorado. You see what an experienced, talented and well-coached team does, they have success. 

“I’m confident the first half of this season was just a little bump in the road. Some things were out of our control, but we can fix all of the issues we have, so that is a good thing.”

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