Monday's with Rich Rod: Coach Talks QB situation, defense, Gramb - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Monday's with Rich Rod: Coach Talks QB situation, defense, Grambling St., upcoming Hawaii and then some

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It was the third edition of the "Monday's with Rich Rod" press conference.  


Here's some transcripts and quotes as-provided by the U of A athletic department (www.arizonaathletics.com)

Opening statement from Coach Rich Rodriguez: “With the game against Grambling State, there are a lot of things we have to fix on all three phases. As coaches, we talked about what we are doing scheme-wise, personnel-wise and how we have to get better. You have to give them credit; they had a good plan and they executed well. We certainly did not tackle well or execute well offensively in large parts of the game. Again, everything we did not do well, we think we can fix. Our guys have been very conscientious; we had a good meeting at practice yesterday and we will get better because of it. We have to get better and our guys will do that.”

On dealing with shifty players on offense: “We knew the running back, quarterback and some of their skills players would be really good. The biggest thing is you have a tendency, if you miss a tackle, to become more tentative. You aren’t as aggressive defensively, and we don’t want to do that. I hate playing passively; you have to see the ball and get the ball, be aggressive and play with confidence. Once your confidence gets shaken, sometimes it’s hard to get back. We try to get our guys to play with confidence and trust their eyes. Our recognition was a little slower than I thought it can be defensively, and our reactions were tentative at times; in the second half it was better.”

On missing tackles: “There is always a reason why you miss tackles. Sometimes you put your head down, sometimes you have a poor angle or sometimes a guy can be shiftier than you are. I told the guys that you are going miss a tackle; what you don’t want to do is sit there and hope you make the tackle. Just go get it; see the ball, get the ball.”

On quarterback Brandon Dawkins’ performance: “It was uneven. I thought he competed very well and made some plays with his feet. He created some things and missed some things that he would like to have back. More than anything, we have to get his eyes right. A lot of times, his decision were good, but sometimes his eyes were not in the right spot so his decisions weren’t as good. Typically, for a quarterback that has not had a lot of experience, that could be an issue. He has been in the program long enough and he understands what he has to do to get better. It is important to Brandon, so he will get better. He improved throughout the game with his eyes and decision-making. I think he calmed down a little and became more active. We dropped a couple passes too, but I think Brandon has a lot of skills and has some experience at offense. I think the more he plays, the better he will get. We will find out more about Anu [Solomon] later in the week. We have two guys with them that have some experience now, and I think they will both learn from the first two games”

On team performing up to expectations: “I’m a little disappointed in everything, including us as coaches. We want to be 2-0 and executing better. The attitude, effort and want-to has been there. We have practice at seven a.m., and everybody is there 15 or 20 minutes early, ready to go on the field. We have a meeting, and guys are ten or 15 minutes early. It’s important to them, and they know we have to do better. I would have thought that we would be executing better offensively, especially in the first half, and I would have thought that we would have gotten more than zero three-and-outs against Grambling.”

On slow first half starts: “We have to try to do something to get us in a rhythm offensively, where we can get some first downs and gain some confidence. Once you get in a rhythm offensively, by getting some first downs and some momentum, it’s easy to take off from there. We haven’t done that in two (first) halves in a row. We just have to execute better when we come out of the gates.”

On freshman running back J.J. Taylor and returning “rugby style” punts: “Part of the reason that you do (rugby-style kicks) is so it’s hard to catch the ball. The ball shakes funny and bounces in funny ways. As a rule for returners, if it’s low below your knees and squirming around, you are better off just falling on it. If it bounces above your knees and there is some space, then scoop it up and take off with it. With Nate Phillips being hurt, we had J.J. Taylor back there, and he gained some experience with that. I thought he was good. He returned one for a few yards, and I’m excited for J.J. We keep talking about getting him in the game more, and we’ll make a better effort to do that.”

On wide receivers getting spacing: “They were good. I think we missed a couple of touchdown opportunities, but then we had the big one with Trey [Griffey]. We have Samajie [Grant], Nate [Phillips] and Trey, so we have some explosiveness at wide receiver, and we can separate a little bit. When they challenge us, we have to be able to take some shots. That’s one thing that we have talked about, and we did that; we took a couple shots, missed one or two. Every team is going to challenge us, starting with Hawaii. We have to be ready to take some shots if they do that.” Junior Receiver Cam Denson On getting the ball in the second half versus Grambling: “It felt really good to go out there and contribute to the team, and give it my all. It just felt really good to be out there.”

On Brandon Dawkins commanding the offense: “He brings a lot of leadership to the team. He goes out there and gives it his all. He brings more of a running perspective to the team, so having that out there is going to open up the run game, and eventually help the pass game for everybody.” On confidence playing at Arizona: “I feel like I can be a big producer. My confidence level has not dropped at all. I took more of a wait-my-turn type of deal, and just get better every week. I work on the little things so I can go out and compete at a high-level.”

Junior Offensive Lineman Layth Friekh On offensive line production: “Coach Michalczik always talks about leverage, and we have gotten away from that a little the past two weeks. This week we are putting a lot of emphasis on leverage and getting under guys to be able to open up holes as well as finishing, driving and playing to the whistle.” On fourth down plays: “They are just stupid mistakes, stupid little errors. We have to be crisper and get rid of those errors. Going back and looking at the film, there are things we can fix.”

On extra motivation against Hawai’i: “I’m not from the island, but I think for those who are, they might bring a little extra to this game because they grew up close to there. I think they are really looking forward to it because they know a lot of guys on the other team.”

On difference between first and second halves: “Every halftime, we go in and make adjustments. We have a game plan, but it’s not right every time; they might have a different game plan for us so during half time we adjust. We go out with a little more intensity. We shouldn’t have to wait until halftime, but sometimes it just takes a little while to go. I know this week and in the next coming weeks, we are going to try and work on that a bit.” On Brandon Dawkins commanding the offense: “He was good, well-spoken. We can hear him a lot. He took command and took control of the offense, the same way Anu [Solomon] does. He did a good job with that.”

Redshirt Junior Defensive Lineman Parker Zellers On who motivates during halftime: “Everyone; we all get motivated in our own individual ways. There are some guys who are more vocal, and some guys go out there and make plays. We need everybody contributing and bringing the energy coming out into the second half.”

On whether defense is meeting expectations: “I think there is always room for improvement. We have to keep going out to practice and wanting to get better, wanting to improve and succeed. I think that’s a recipe for success, and as a team if we keep doing that, we will make some strides.”

On defensive lineman Justin Belknap: “I would say his work ethic is good. He really loves the game of football, and works on it every day, whether it’s in the classroom, watching film or on the field. I’m really proud of the way he has come along and like to see him, as well as the whole defensive unit, keep making strides.”

On what the game means to players from Hawai’i: “Every game means something to everybody. If you focus in on one game a year, that is not the right attitude. They (Anu Solomon, Sani Fuimaono, Michael Eletise) haven’t been talking about it too much, but it probably means something to them.”

On takeaways in the second half versus Grambling State: “I think it was time it happened. Like DeAndre said, as long as you get hats to the ball and you get people flying around, good things usually happen. I think it was just about time we got one. As long as we get hats to the ball, I think we’ll be alright. I think forced fumbles just come naturally with aggressive defense and effort.” On missed tackles: “I think it is a lot of guys just getting antsy and really wanting to go right through someone. They put their foot in the dirt, but they go the other way. Like I said again, as long as we get 11 hats to the ball, I think we’ll be alright. We work on it every week in practice, so as long as we keep working on it and learn from mistakes, I think we’ll be good to go.”

Redshirt Junior Linebacker DeAndre’ Miller On defenseive performance: “We are definitely not where we want to be. Everybody wants to be 2-0, but we are taking it one game at a time. Like Coach Rod says, we dwell on it for 24 hours then move onto the next opponent. We have to go out every week and give it our best.”

On differences between BYU and Grambling State: “They were both really good opponents. We have respect for our opponents. Grambling definitely came out and played with a lot of heart; they came out and gave us their all. They are both really good opponents.” On dealing with shifty players: “Get all of our guys to the ball. Beat their players to the ball and hustle, so if one guy misses the other guy can get him.”

Arizona hosts Hawai’i for the second home game of the season on Sat, Sept. 17. Slated for 7:45 p.m. MST, the game will be televised by Pac-12 Networks. For continued coverage of Arizona football, follow the team on Facebook at facebook.com/ArizonaFootball and on Twitter @ArizonaFBall. -- ArizonaWildcats.com --

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