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Arizona prepares for UTEP’s ‘Old Traditional’ offense

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Check out comments from Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez.

NCAA Football: Houston at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez spoke to the media on Monday, preparing for UTEP’s power run, and ‘Old Traditional’ offense.

Rich Rod on Arizona’s passing performance against Houston…

“We did not execute well at all in the passing game. There were a couple of things we hit and there were a couple of things fundamentally we can be better at. That was the point of emphasis in last night’s practice and meeting. We have to make sure we remember our fundamentals and carry it through to execution. We did not do a lot of different schematic stuff, so it wasn’t confusion. It was just fundamental things we have to fix.”

On his defense’s improvement from Week 1…

“I thought we were much more aggressive mentally. We were timid in the first game, which no one mentioned, but in this game we were a lot more aggressive. We missed a few tackles, but overall it was a much better performance against some pretty talented guys. We were good in the redzone and our guys keep competing. I still think we can get better, and particularly with the youth, I expect as they get more experience they will get better and more confident.”

Arizona has a QB controversy…

“We have talented guys. We did not lose the game because of something our quarterback did. There are a lot of reasons as to why we lost. It always starts with the coaching. I have high expectations for the quarterbacks that we have, but I always have high expectations for the quarterback system. There is a lot on his plate and a lot to do, but they know better or they wouldn’t have come here to play quarterback. There is talent there that can play at a high level and they have, which is what we expect going forward.”

On playing in El Paso…

“We used to play them all the time in the same conference. But I think it’s pretty neat, we have a lot of Arizona alum in the area and I’m hoping they’ll come out Friday night. Moving the game to Friday night I thought was a chance to get on national TV, and have something a little bit different. It’s a little bit of a ride, but our guys will probably sleep the whole way down on the bus. They should be excited and I’m excited too to play on national TV.”

On Friday night college football games being played simultaneously as high school games…

“As a proud member of the AFCA Football Coach Association, we’ve talked about that quite a bit. We have a lot of high school coaches in that organization, so we have to be sensitive to that. I think that Friday nights are mostly for high school football, but you also have to look at this from a program standpoint where you have to look at it as an opportunity to be on national television. I understand high schools are playing on TV too. Television dictates a lot of things, and we have a Friday game next week. We’ve been wanting to have a Friday or Thursday night home game for several years and now we have two.”

On the running game and J.J. Taylor

“J.J. had to play more because Nick Wilson was out. We usually would split the ball more if Nick is healthy. J.J. is doing a really good job, along with Zach Green. Going forward, whether Nick plays or not, we have to get more of a rotation in to keep J.J. healthy, because he’s such a dynamic guy.”

On the difference between quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate

“Well Brandon’s been in the system a couple years longer. He’s more comfortable with everything we’ve been doing in our offense. Khalil’s still learning a little bit, but he’s learned a lot compared to this time last year. Before anybody asks about a controversy and all that, we try to get everybody ready to play, and whoever I feel gives us the best chance to win or succeed on that particular drive or series or half or game, that’s what I go with. It’s not really controversial, it’s just having a feel for getting guys in the game. I’ve got two guys in him and Brandon that’s got a little bit of experience, Brandon a lot more and I’ve got two freshmen that keep progressing and pushing them as well.”

On Tristan Cooper’s homecoming to El Paso…

“I think a couple of guys have already been talking to him about how many tickets he’s trying to get off his teammates so everybody can come to the game. I’m sure he’s excited, but again it’s a business trip for us. It’s not like he’s going to have time to go home and have a family barbecue or anything like that. He’s going down there to play a game.”

On adjustments preparation-wise with one fewer day…

“Well you lose a practice. You lose a Tuesday or Wednesday practice or a combination thereof, so you have to get ready. There’s a little more of a sense of urgency I think from a player’s standpoint. They still have a day off, because they had today off. They have to have a sense of urgency to get prepared for another opponent and especially this week with a team that runs an entirely different type of scheme than we’re used to seeing offensively. We’ve got some challenges for our guys mentally to get ready.”

On UTEP’s scheme:

“They’re more of a power team. They’re a little bit for lack of a better word traditional, old traditional, traditional now is spread. From an old school standpoint, where they got a big, huge offensive line, big tight ends, big fullbacks. If you don’t stop them, they’ll just keep running it down there and control the clock a little bit. It’s a whole different challenge for our guys defensively than what we’ve seen in the last not just two weeks but the last six weeks, so we’ve got to learn all that stuff this week.”