Courtesy of the University of Arizona Opening statement:
“Our players are certainly ready for game week, as every college in the country is tired of practicing against themselves. As I have said several times, with no preseason game, no exhibition games, no practices against someone else, you really do not know what you have until you play. For every game in Division I college football, it is so important that you are playing well right out of the gate. We will have a lot of questions answered next Thursday night. Our players have worked pretty hard and had a good camp. We are probably a little more banged up than I would have liked to be, particularly when we did not go live that much, but we will have a team that is fun to watch, and hopefully we will have a sold out, packed crowd next Thursday night.”
What’s the biggest question mark heading into the year”
“It is certainly our depth that is inexperienced. We have several new starters that are playing. I used to give an injury report out later, but in the interest of your guys’ concerns or questions, some guys that will more than likely be out for this game are: Trey Griffey, who has a foot sprain that will keep him out for a couple of weeks, Cody Ippolito, who tore his ACL and will be out for the season, Tyrell Johnson also has a similar foot injury that Trey has and will be out for a couple of weeks. Trevor Wood has shoulder surgery, so he will be out for the season, and obviously his brother, Carter, couldn’t play [this season] either because of a foot injury. There are some experienced guys that we will be missing for the first game or the first several games, and I do not exactly know their return date. We have some young guys that are on the depth chart now that have not played, and there will probably be a few more put on there before Thursday night. That is probably the biggest concern, just not knowing for sure how they will respond under the lights.”
On the frustration associated with these preseason injuries:
“Yeah it’s frustrating, particularly because there is no time for an extra week to get ready. But, I am only going to complain about it if we are losing; if we are winning, we will move on. It gives someone else an opportunity to play, and we have quite a few young guys, We have some freshman who will probably be playing sooner than maybe we or they anticipated, but we will go with it and see what happens.”
On looking at the first couple games like the NFL preseason:
“I will never go there. Just look at UTSA, last year it went down to the last play, and the year before that it was a close game at our place. We just look at the first game and what we have to do to win that one, and then after that one we will look at the next game. I have never looked past or forward to any games. Up until a couple days ago, it has been all about us. The next couple practices will be both about us and preparing for UTSA.”
On freshman RB Orlando Bradford claiming the third spot on the depth chart:
“He is probably a “co-three” with Zach Green. But, Orlando is a very talented guy. He has good speed, is a bigger guy, and is a really good football player. He reminds us a lot of Nick [Wilson] from the standpoint that he picks up things pretty quickly, has good agility, and better speed than you would think.”
On coaching staff leveraging inexperience in game plan:
“These guys are young and are going to be nervous and you don’t want to complicate things too much. You have to have enough in your schemes to have answers to the things they are doing against you, but you do not want to be so complicated that they are out there thinking and are not able to show their best effort so to speak. As a coaching staff it is really critical on all three phases, offense, defense and special teams that we have a good enough game plan that allows us to have success. We want to be put in the position to make plays, but yet not overcomplicate things.”
What’s different about quarterback Anu Solomon?
“I think his confidence and maturity have both increased, like you would expect. I think his confidence certainly has, because he had a really good freshman year and he has been ‘the guy’ all camp. He had a good summer and he is in better shape. I think he has a better grasp of the offense, and I have not yelled at him nearly as much, because I don’t have to. I can just sense the little things, and I don’t need for him to change his personality. I think he is an even-keeled guy and a little bit low-key, but he is an even bigger competitor than he lets on sometimes. So I have been pleased with the way he has responded in camp. There are still moments when I forget he is just a second-year starter and he is going to make some mistakes, but our expectations for Anu will be high, and I know he has them high for himself too.”
Do you get nervous for game one?
“I do get a little nervous. I think it is because of all the unknowns and because we have not played a game or we have not judged ourselves against anybody. I think I get more nervous for first game than any game we have all year. We get nervous, we had a Sunday practice yesterday and covered everything, special teams, offense, defense, and we are doing the same thing just because I am nervous. We had two beanie bowls really, we had a beanie bowl the other day and we had another one where we went through all kinds of situations. We try to cover everything twice and there is probably still some things that we have not made clear to some of our guys, but we will try to get it covered in the next six days.”
Do you have any personal traditions and rituals to start the season?
“I don’t have any other than the practice schedules are very similar. If you go back over every year the schedule that we have and the things that we do, from a preparation standpoint, everything is very similar. I have a sheet that has about 60 different scenarios or things that may never come up in a football game all year or in two years but you still want to cover that. But as far as tying my shoes a certain way, no not that kind of stuff. But in preparation it is kind of the same things we follow every year.”
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