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September 10, 2007On Monday during his weekly press conference, UA head coach Mike Stoops reviewed Arizona's 45-24 victory over NAU and talked about what he did and didn't like from the game.
Here are some quotes from the press conference:
"Looking back, going through the tapes yesterday, I think we saw a lot of really good things, some good signs. I thought defensively we played a really physical game. We tackled better and really had excellent position on the football throughout the course of the game.
"We made it tough for them to move the ball. It's disappointing we gave up a couple scores there in the third quarter and early fourth. We gave them short field position two times in a row. We hadn't been giving them field position all day and made them worked but they did a nice job in execution. Defensively, I'm really encouraged. I thought our kids played a really disciplined and physical game which we knew playing a team like that we'd have to do.
"Offensively I think we continued to grow and get better every time we step on the field. I thought Willie (Tuitama)'s precision and accuracy was really (good). What he's shown the first two weeks that's encouraging, are his ability to throw some unique balls and I believe his accuracy is his biggest strength right now; he's really put the ball where it's needed to be. His decision making continues to get better and his awareness and seeing the field continues to get better. He's just scratching the surface of what he can do and that's encouraging. I think he's seeing things a lot better.
"We wanted to go more vertical against this team for various reasons. Our game plan is always going to vary week to week. I thought we used our athleticism and threw the ball very well. I thought the offensive line protected very well. I don't think we'll have that much time to throw with the type of opponents we're getting ready to face so I hope we don't get in that comfort zone with our quarterback and he's got to understand that he's going to have to make quicker and faster decisions, especially this week.
"I thought the running backs both did a nice job throughout the course of the game. I think Nick (Grigsby) played well for his first game of significant playing time, I thought Colin Baxter, first game, played very, very well. Rob Gronkowski, second game they're just scratching the surface of what type of players those guys can be. That's what's encouraging, is that we had some good production out of some young players that hadn't played much football here at all. That continues to be a really good sign for us.
"We're gaining some depth in our offensive line as well. We wanted to give Colin a chance, Daniel Borg has played both guard and tackle for us and he'll continue to be our sixth guy. He's a very smart, intelligent player that can play a variety of different places. It gives us a little comfort zone knowing that we have a player of that magnitude that's started for us before continuously pushing for playing time. With the backs I'd assume that will continue to look at all three of them."
On the decision to switch up Borg and Baxter:
"(Baxter) had practiced well and we just wanted to give him the opportunity to see what he can do. He's a really tough, competitive kid that prepares very well and has gotten better. He's an excellent football player."
On not forcing turnovers against NAU:
"I don't know if we can hit any harder than we hit the other night. We just couldn't get the ball loose. That was a little concerning but we played as physical as we can play and we harassed them pretty much all night. We had one interception go through our hands. They came in with a very controlled game plan and sometimes when they're going to control the ball, it gets a little harder. You would think that handling the ball that much that we would have gotten a fumble or turnover but it's something that we've got to continue to work on and hopefully we'll get some."
On a possible starter at running back:
"It will be a committee between all three of them. I think all three have shown signs of some things better than others. There's a need for all three of them."
On Xavier Smith's play against NAU:
"I thought Xavier Smith ran well. I thought both backs ran well."
On Corey Hall and Devin Ross' play against NAU:
"Corey improves every time he steps on the field and we moved Devin in there to play some nickel too. Devin gives us a unique speed guy. He can fly, he can cover and we're just continuously trying to get faster and better. Competition is good and Corey and Devin will both (compete). Devin's done some excellent things since he's been here and we want to give him a chance to play. That's what we're trying to do with all our positions and I think it's going to make us a better team."
On Dane Krogstad's role:
"Dane will play a lot more this week, (New Mexico is) more of a prototypical pro-personnel type of team."
On special teams:
"I think special teams has probably been the strength of our team the first two weeks. I thought the kicking has been excellent. Jason (Bondzio) just missed, I don't think he missed that field goal by much. His kickoffs are very strong. It was good to see him get out there and get a couple of opportunities.
"Keenyn (Crier) has an exceptional leg. We were able to down a couple inside the 20; that was good on some pooch punting situations. Our returns were excellent, you can see two weeks in a row they get a little bit scared of kicking to our return guy so we have to continue working to improve with our kickoff and punt returns. That's a big weapon I think you see every week. It has an impact on games. If we can gain an advantage in yards then we want to do that."