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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football notes: Wildcats humble and focused after win

Larry Hogan/Arizona Daily Wildcat Quarterback Matt Scott, No. 10, practices with the rest of the UA football team earlier this summer.

Upsetting the No. 10 team in the nation is usually enough to earn some praise from the head coach, but Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez has already placed the Wildcats’ signature 39-36 win over USC firmly in the rearview mirror.

“Watching the film Sunday, I know USC, I guess, is not real happy with how they played,” Rodriguez said. “But I’m not really happy with how we played at times, either. That wasn’t one of our best games.”

Since coming to Arizona, Rodriguez has instituted the 24-hour rule, which essentially means that players are allowed one day to enjoy a win before they get back to practice Sunday.

In addition to forcing the team to move forward quickly, receiver Dan Buckner said Rodriguez’ balance between praise and criticism helps keep the team both humble and focused.

“I think that’s what the great head coaches do,” Buckner said.

“They pat you on the back, but they don’t just continue patting you on the back. They give you your little love and then you get back to it — short memory.”

Even though the huge win Saturday propelled the Wildcats back into the rankings, Rodriguez made it clear there was no time for gloating with a colorful metaphor: “I’ve said it before, I got to be careful patting them on the rear too much,” Rodriguez said after the game Saturday, “cause I don’t want to make a mess of my hand.”

Several players had jaw-dropping performances against the Trojans, including quarterback Matt Scott’s 469 total yards and receiver Austin Hill’s 259 yards receiving.

But the unforgettable game didn’t stop Hill from saying that everyone on the team could have done better.

“A lot of silly mistakes,” Hill said. “I know we had a lot of penalty yards, we killed ourselves on a couple drives, dropped a couple balls as a receiving core. I think we kind of went away from our fundamentals a little bit, and we didn’t really play that good of a game-watching film. But, you know, we played a good enough game to win.”

The game Saturday was by no means clean. No. 24 Arizona had a season-high 14 penalties for 129 yards in the game, slightly more than the Trojans, who lead the nation in total penalties with 82 for 677 yards. The Wildcats’ upcoming game at UCLA could be equally sloppy, though, as the Bruins are fifth in the nation in penalties with 8.38 per game.

UCLA’s big boy under center

The Wildcats have struggled at times with bringing down some of the Pac-12’s big tight ends. In the past, Rodriguez has compared the Wildcat defense to fire ants trying to take down an elephant – the elephant being Stanford’s Levine Toilolo – but this weekend they’re facing a whole different beast.

UCLA’s quarterback Brett Hundley is listed on the Bruins’ official website at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, but the freshman play-caller plays the position with much more physicality and athleticism.

“I remember him coming out of high school,” Rodriguez said.

“Shoot, that’s what you want them to look like. He looks like those tight ends we’re playing against all the time — big, strong, physical athletes.”

Rodriguez said that he could run the same sort of offense with a bruiser like Hundley, but a taller quarterback has the added advantage of having better vision on the field. Rodriguez has never had that luxury, though, as both of his former star quarterbacks, Pat White and Denard Robinson were listed at 6-feet even.

“I don’t know if I’ve had any that big,” Rodriguez said. “It seems like I’ve always got these shorter guys. Matt [Scott] will dispute that he’s short.”

Scott is listed as 6-foot-3 on the official Arizona website, but that number might be a little generous for the senior quarterback.

When asked if Scott was six feet tall by Ryan Finley of the Arizona Daily Star, Rodriguez joked, “We’re gonna say 6-foot-2 for Matt. For the pro scouts we’ll say 6-foot-3.”

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