Notes and takeaways from Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez’s weekly Monday news conference at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility:
* Rodriguez said he’s unsure whether senior “Stud” DeAndre’ Miller will be able to return for Friday’s game vs. Utah. Last week Miller finally shed the boot he had been wearing since having foot surgery in July. He has yet to practice. When healthy, he is Arizona’s best pass rusher.
* Rodriguez expects tailback Nick Wilson to be a full participant in practice this week. Wilson played against UTEP after missing the previous week because of an ankle injury.
* Rodriguez said the staff is trying to figure out how to get freshman slot receiver Gary Brightwell more involved in the offense.
* Rodriguez said he challenged QB Brandon Dawkins and the entire offense after their lackluster performances vs. Houston. Dawkins “felt like he had something to prove,” Rodriguez said, and handled himself accordingly. Dawkins is more competitive and serious than he generally reveals, Rodriguez said.
* Rodriguez said backup quarterback Khalil Tate (shoulder) could have played last week and will be “ready to go this week.” But Rodriguez also acknowledged that Tate was still “nicked up” vs. UTEP and that Rhett Rodriguez was the No. 2 quarterback.
* Rich Rodriguez denied being angry with Rhett Rodriguez after a second-half fumble. The coach blamed the miscue on an errant snap.
* There was a lot of discussion about quarterback sliding and how Dawkins needs to protect himself when running. I’ll have more on that later today.
* Rich Rodriguez said his staff saw some Scooby Wright-like traits in linebacker Colin Schooler when Arizona was recruiting him.
* Rodriguez said Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley reminds him of Dawkins. Arizona hasn’t faced a QB as athletic as Huntley. Rodriguez added that this might be the most athletic team Utah has fielded since he’s been at Arizona.
* Rodriguez said the defense must be aware of Utah receiver Darren Carrington’s whereabouts. Carrington, who transferred from Oregon this summer, leads the Utes in receiving.
* Senior Jack Banda came to the coaches and requested a move from defensive end to tight end. He got into the game late and caught a pass. He primarily will play tight end and on special teams the rest of the season.
* Rodriguez said JB Brown and Anthony Pandy, who made their college debuts vs. UTEP, “don’t look like true freshmen” athletically or physically. Arizona continues to audition players who can rush the passer.
* With another Friday game coming up and a bye afterward, Arizona has altered its schedule. The team met to go over corrections Saturday and held a longer-than-usual practice Sunday. The Wildcats were set to meet again Monday ahead of their usual Tuesday-morning practice.
* Rodriguez said the team was especially enthusiastic Sunday. “You would have thought we were practicing the day before the Super Bowl,” he said.
* Rodriguez praised Shun Brown for his spin move on his punt-return touchdown but also noted that one of the players he eluded was UTEP’s punter, Alan Luna. “If you can’t beat the kicker or punter to score a touchdown,” Rodriguez said, “you’ll never hear the end of it.”