The biggest thing to come out of Rich Rodriguez's weekly news conference this afternoon was obviously the news that DaVonte Neal's appeal to play right away has been denied by the NCAA.
However, the coach did cover other topics. Here's a look at some of the highlights of today's news conference.
On his initial impressions of UTSA: “I’ve been really impressed with UTSA. Offensively, they scored 35 points on Oklahoma State. Mississippi State only scored three on Oklahoma State. They have a good quarterback, good skill players, fast players on the perimeter, a good running back. So, it’s going to be a challenge. Our guys will see that on film.”
On Ka’Deem Carey: “I thought he played pretty well. He was our offensive player of the week. He always runs hard, he runs hungry, and that’s one of his great attributes. He made the right cuts; he made the right reads. In a little bit of protection he was good, too. We feel good. Daniel Jenkins is a little bit banged up, but we have two starting tailbacks going forward and it’s a pretty good situation to have right now.”
On Carey’s excitement level in the week leading up to the game: “He was excited during the week and you could see that a little bit, but I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary before that. He was just ready to play. On his first play, he made a nice cut, but the whole was pretty big, too. I know he was happy to go to get going again.”
On the play of the offensive line: “It’s about the same as last week. I think it was OK, but we are not grading out extremely high. Fundamentally, we could do a lot better job. Those guys are a very conscientious group. It’s not like you tell them your footwork is wrong and they look at you like you have three heads. They understand it, but fundamentally Coach (Jim) Michalczik is still working like crazy to get those guys to do all the right things. It was OK, but it wasn’t a great performance by any stretch of the imagination.”
On if he’s surprised with the low grades with so many veterans up front: “Next to quarterback, that’s the hardest position to play fundamentally. We don’t want to put a lot on them mentally. We have different schemes and they see different fronts every week, but it’s a physically and mentally demanding position and more so physically than anything else. Like I said, they just have to keep getting better fundamentally because we’ve gotten by it with the last two weeks, but going forward it’s going to be more and more of a challenge for us. They’ll keep working on it.”
On the relationship between B.J. Denker and his receivers: “They know each other well. They don’t need to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I’m never worried about relationships or anything like that. Throw to the open guy and if he is really, really explosive, throw it to him more. That’s a relationship. We missed a couple and B.J. would be the first to tell you. There were two or three big play opportunities I guess you could call them and we didn’t connect because of an overthrow or the route was a little bit wrong. Those were the things that we were the most frustrated about as was B.J. and the other guys. It’s an execution thing, and we ran some of those same plays last night and we hit them in practice, which was good, but we have to keep working on them. We didn’t throw a lot, particularly in the second half, but in the first half when we had those missed big-play opportunities, we just have to connect on them going forward and our guys know that. The last two teams that we’ve faced, had loaded the box up in what we call ‘cover Zero’ giving us one-on-one pass opportunities and when that happens, you have to be able to execute.”
On the execution of the offense: “It’s still getting the timing down. You hope a lot of that stuff when you start practice in August, it’s already there. We were behind and that’s why I was so upset at the beginning of camp, because I wanted our execution to be sharp the first week and it wasn’t sharp the first three weeks, but we’ve gotten better. Last night in practice, B.J., Javelle and Jesse have all threw the ball about as well as they have thrown it since camp started. I think that’s going to keep coming and we have to keep working on it.”
On the defense: “There’s a better understanding of what we’re doing defensively since it’s our second year. We have a little bit more depth, more guys are able to play than a year ago and we’re healthier certainly than we were a year ago this time. It was disappointing to give up two big plays, because we had done a good job of that, not only in the two games, but all of camp, not giving up big plays and we gave up two big ones on Saturday. One was against the twos, but still. I think for the most part our guys have understood the shell of our defense and I think our defense prepares pretty well, but this will be the biggest challenge we’ve seen this year with their skill players and what they do. They do a lot of stuff on offense, UTSA does, a lot of stuff.”
On the depth of the defense: “We have some freshmen playing. Scooby (Wright) is playing, (Derrick) Turituri is playing, De’Andre Miller is playing. (Devin) Holiday and (Derek) Babaish are playing in the secondary. We have more of our younger guys playing. But, our depth has to show up more as we get going. We have an open date after this one and then a semi-open date and then we play seven in a row, so our depth is going to be tested down the road.”
On if he will try to get Jesse Scroggins into Saturday’s game: “Right now he is the third guy, but he has gotten better. The system is new for him, so he’s still learning as are all of the guys. It’s Jesse’s second semester in it and Javelle’s and B.J’s second year, so they’re all kinda growing up in the system. As we go forward, our entire offense is basically in. There will be tweaks, but our entire offense is in, so hopefully as our season goes along, they’ll get comfortable with it.”
On what separates Denker from the other QBs: “Probably just his knowledge of what we’re doing. He’s a good athlete, but his decision making is what has helped him the most and really the last three weeks he understands our system and more as we go forward, you don’t just want guys to understand what we’re doing, but why we’re doing it and the reason behind it and I think B.J. has the best grasp of that, but I think the other guys will learn that at some point.”
On Denker’s running ability: “He is a threat running. I don’t know if you timed him in the 40, he’d be that fast, but he seems—like a lot of guys—that he’s faster when someone is chasing him. He has an extra gear when someone is chasing him. He does run well as do the other guys, so that’s a weapon. He throws well on the run, so we want to use part of our offense to use that. He’s also getting more and more comfortable dropping back and throwing some of the quick gain and some of that stuff and that’s where our execution needs to get better.”
On Tevin Hood: “He’s been pretty good. He’s a solid guy. He made a big play on a QB sneak, which was one of the bigger plays defensively maybe a lot of people didn’t know about. He stopped it basically himself. He’s our anchor. We need him to play a lot of plays. Dwight Melvin came back from an injury and played a little bit. Luca Bruno, if we get his eligibility issues sorted out, he can play a little bit in there. But, Tevin is the anchor. He’s the key for us up front.”