There’s no question that the 2016 season has been nothing short of a nightmare for Rich Rodriguez, but he and the coaching staff couldn’t be more pleased with the play exhibited in Arizona’s 56-35 blowout victory over ASU.
“I’m just really proud of our team and particularly our senior class for the way they performed tonight,” Rodriguez said. “As I told them in the locker room, it certainly doesn’t make up for a tough season but it’s a great night to be an Arizona Wildcat and I’m proud of them. To get the cup and play well at home means everything.”
Arizona ran for a school record of 511 yards, which Rodriguez attributes heavily to the play of senior Samajie Grant among others.
“Samajie was phenomenal tonight,” he said. “To think that he’s just spent a few weeks at running back and what he gave for us all season. Particularly on some of those outside zones where he stuck his foot into the ground and got north, it was a nice job.
“Zach Green has never ran that far in his life without passing out and I thought Brandon Dawkins was terrific. When you have a quarterback that can run like him and who’s a willing runner, it gives your offense a whole different dimension.”
Arizona had struggled to play at a competitive level for most of the season, but Rodriguez knows a rivalry game may have sparked something different.
“I’ve said this for weeks but our guys’ practices and attentiveness has been great,” Rodriguez said. “This was a rivalry game so it’s not hard to get fired up about it but all of our guys were dialed in.”
With a long offseason lying ahead, Rodriguez and the coaching staff have significant work to do and know the future of the program couldn’t be more exciting moving forward.
“I could sense the energy in the field crowd and I think that we have the best fans,” he said. “It’s funny because we go through the Wildcat Walk each home game and I’m always a little nervous when you’re losing because people could say nasty things.
“That hasn’t happened at all and the fans have been as positive throughout the whole season as someone could ask for. You can imagine that it’s not like that everywhere and I couldn’t ask for better support. I’m telling all of our fans to hang in there because there are some special things that are about to happen.”