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Notes and takeaways from the Arizona Wildcats’ post-practice media availability Wednesday morning as USC week continues:

* Arizona cracked the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night, a cool achievement but not the team’s ultimate goal. “We were definitely excited about that,” freshman DE-LB Kylan Wilborn said. “It’s been a turnaround from last year. It shows improvement. But you gotta put that aside. It’s rankings at the end of the day. It’s just a number on a board. It doesn’t mean much. You’ve gotta keep going, keep grinding, keep doing what we’ve been doing to get there.”

* UA coach Rich Rodriguez doesn't think his team is satisfied with its achievements to date. I get same sense from the players: They're still out to prove something.

* Does Arizona believe it can beat USC on Saturday night? I get the sense the Wildcats do. Khalil Tate’s emergence and the team’s four-game win streak have boosted everyone’s confidence. Whether it actually happens remains to be seen.

* Rodriguez said the common thread among his top quarterbacks – from Pat White to Denard Robinson and now Khalil Tate - is that they all had a "game competitiveness and game speed."

* Rodriguez on Tate today vs. the Tate who made his first career start as 17-year-old vs. USC last October: "He’s a completely different player now."

* Tate on his growth since then: “I’m a year older. I’m 19. I just know more. I’m more aware of certain things, situations, and more evolved as a leader.”

* Tight end Jamie Nunley on Tate: “We’re playing with a ‘Madden’ character."

* How does Arizona go about attacking USC's big, athletic defense? Rodriguez: "We’ve just gotta do what we do."

Brian Knorr, who coaches the Wildcats’ edge rushers, is looking for DeAndre' Miller to step up. "Now’s the time,” Knorr said. “He’s had a good week of practice. We need him."

* Knorr, also Arizona's special-teams coach, wasn't surprised that freshman kicker Lucas Havrisik drilled a 57-yard field goal against Washington State. "When he hits that ball,” Knorr said, “it’s a different sound.”

* I’m hearing good things about several Arizona scout-team defenders. That group includes freshmen My-King Johnson, Jose Ramirez, Malik Hausman, Xavier Bell and Rhedi Short, as well as transfer Sione Taufahema. Those players will benefit greatly from the extra bowl practices the Wildcats will have in December. “That’s huge,” Knorr said. “That’s an extra spring football.”

* A handful of Arizona coaches will go out to Los Angeles-area high schools to recruit Friday night, taking advantage of the SoCal trip and the late Saturday start (7:45 p.m.).