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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Onto the next one: Wildcats’ focus turns to Sun Devils

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Alexander Plaumann
Alexander Plaumann / The Daily Wildcat Head Coach Rich Rodriguez speaks with his team during a time out at the Oregon game on Saturday at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats defeated the Ducks 42-16.

Arizona football has its “24 hour” rule, but head coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t expect it to be an issue this week despite the Wildcats’ upset of then-No. 5 Oregon a few days ago.

Rodriguez gives his team 24 hours to celebrate wins or dwell on losses before the focus moves to the next game. This time, after a review of the Oregon game on Sunday and a day off Monday, Rodriguez said he thinks the team will be ready to prepare for No. 12 ASU this week.

“By the time we get together again Tuesday, they’ve probably heard enough talk about ASU and the rivalry that they’re ready to get focused on that,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has previously pinned up quotes from the opposing team, but he hasn’t put any in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility to motivate his team.

“These walls are pretty nice, I don’t want to dirty the walls up,” Rodriguez said. “I used to put up motivational stuff, and then the players accused me of making up quotes. I’ve only did that a couple times [laughs], making up quotes, that their players said this and that. They never really did, I just kind of paraphrased it.”

Coaches prepare the same amount for the ASU game as any other game during the week because there isn’t enough time to do extra, but they do watch more film of their rivals during the offseason. And players come in more on their own to watch film during rivalry weeks.

“It’s ASU; we shouldn’t have to pump anyone up,” senior quarterback B.J. Denker said.

Rodriguez said rivalry games are easier to get players motivated for because they hear the buzz about it all around campus.

However, Rodriguez added that if their players aren’t giving 100 percent for every game, then they have the “wrong dudes on the field.”

Still, he keeps the game in perspective.

“If we lose, I’m going to be really mad, but I’m not going to jump off a bridge,” Rodriguez said. “We ain’t got a lot of bridges around here anyway.”

Red storm

The celebration after the game was memorable for Rodriguez, but he was able to stay dry, avoiding the inevitable Powerade bath.

“I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and those guys aren’t very athletic,” Rodriguez said. “I think they kind of tripped.”

The second-year coach said players usually block the coach before pouring Powerade on him, but the Wildcats didn’t on Saturday.

“We must not have won a lot of big games, because our guys aren’t experienced in coach-dousing,” Rodriguez said. “This is all a learning experience for all of us.”

Although Arizona has beaten three ranked teams and won a bowl game in Rodriguez’s tenure, the Wildcats may need more experience winning big games.

Rodriguez said the celebration was big for senior football players and senior students. He didn’t see the students storm the field at first because he was being interviewed.

“Thankfully I had a couple of our finest around me to shove me through the crowd, but it was a fun shove,” Rodriguez said.

Half the team was on the field instead of in the locker room when Rodriguez got there. He let the team celebrate and watched them enter the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility one by one.

Hill over the hump?

Junior receiver Austin Hill suited up last week and participated in warm ups, but Rodriguez said he wasn’t sure if he could play in a game yet.

“I think he’s a little bit better every week, but again, is he going to be ready to play in a game? That’s another leap,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really up to Austin and how he feels and the training staff.”

The Wildcats release their injury report later in the week.

Hill was Arizona’s leading receiver last year and a Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist. Hill tore his ACL in April but can’t redshirt because he already has.

Hill did announce he will return for his senior year, rather than enter the NFL draft.

—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520

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