Notes and takeaways from Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez’s weekly Monday news conference at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility:
* Rodriguez said tailback Nick Wilson “just tweaked his ankle a little bit” last week and “hopefully he’ll be better for this week.” The oft-injured Wilson suited up for the Houston game but did not play. Arizona visits UTEP on Friday night.
* Rodriguez said the coaches are getting more confident in freshman tailback Nathan Tilford, who did not get any backfield snaps against Houston. It sounds as if Tilford might become a bigger part of the plan as the season goes on.
* Rodriguez said he “felt a little better” about the Wildcats’ performance after watching the film of Arizona’s 19-16 loss to Houston on Saturday. “We weren’t as far off on things as I thought,” Rodriguez said.
* Rodriguez talked extensively about the quarterback situation, which remains a focal point for UA fans and coaches for a variety of reasons. Rodriguez reiterated his faith in the quarterbacks he has and emphasized the importance of fundamental work this week. I’ll have more on the quarterbacks later today.
* Rodriguez was pleased with how aggressively the defense played after the unit appeared tentative at times in Week 1. He’d like to see more rotating than what took place against Houston. There was little to no subbing in the secondary.
* Rodriguez said he is sensitive to high school coaches who object to college games being played on Fridays but felt it was best for the UA program to gain national exposure by moving the UTEP game to Friday night. Next week’s Pac-12 opener against Utah also takes place on a Friday.
* Arizona tried three short snappers with starter Nick Reinhardt out. It appears that starting center Nathan Eldridge will handle those responsibilities moving forward, with Donald Reiter snapping on punts.
* Rodriguez said the Wildcats had “three or four missed assignments” on the Cougars’ 81-yard kickoff return. “We lost contain,” he said. “It was just bad. It should never happen.”
* Rodriguez said the two biggest adjustments this week are having one fewer practice and prepping the defense for UTEP’s old-school rushing attack.
* Rodriguez had high praise for junior safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. “He’s everything that you want in a student-athlete on and off the field,” Rodriguez said, adding that he thinks Flannigan-Fowles' “best football is out in front of him.”
* Several UA players and staffers are from Florida and/or have friends and family who live there. Rodriguez said they’re all safe in the wake of Hurricane Irma, as far as he knows.
REPORT CARD: Grading Arizona's performance vs. Houston