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October 17, 2006

Mike Stoops Notebook

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops addressed the media at his weekly press conference on Monday morning. Here are quotes from Stoops on some key issues he discussed with the press.

On Earl Mitchell and the young linemen:

"Those four freshmen played outstanding. Earl Mitchell had probably as good a blocking performance from a tight end as we've ever had. We really dominated some people and we got people down to the ground and we hadn't been doing that."

On Kris Heavner taking over for Adam Austin midway through the game:

"I thought Kris came in and did a really nice job of handling our team with limited reps. Obviously his past experience has helped him immensely. He's much of a more poised player and he's been through a lot.

"I think going through some of the adversity has really matured him as a person and as a player it's going to help him. If his number was called he was ready to play and I give him a lot of credit in that situation.

"We could have done more if we had just gotten a little bit ahead. A touchdown and an onsides kick and you're a few fluke plays away from scratching for your life. We just never got into position where if we got three more points we could open it up just a little bit more. We were running the ball effectively so we didn't want to take any chances."

On Arizona's depth chart at quarterback against Oregon State:

"Kris would be the probable starter. Adam is out, Willie (Tuitama) is still questionable. He hasn't been cleared. We'll take it day to day. He's seeing the doctor (Monday) so we'll play that day to day and week to week. If he's out for this game then we'd get Tyler Lyon ready and possibly use one of our receivers as a quarterback too. It's something that we'd have to integrate into our offense."

On Adam Austin's injury:

"The MRI was today. It's his MCL and that mends pretty well, it's just going to be a time factor with him."

On Heavner's new role:

"We have a lot of confidence in Kris. It's funny how things work out. I think he'll be much improved. I just think with all his experiences he's been through, it didn't affect him in the least Saturday. He was probably more nervous playing two years ago then he was Saturday.

"What's he have to lose? Go out and play. We're in a situation where we have a great opportunity to win, just get us in the best situation. He'll compete; I'm not worried about that.

"We just have to make sure we have a solid game plan around him. Our ability to run the football is going to be key and we're going to try and get some big plays. We can't let them cheat the line of scrimmage. That's something we're going to look at and make sure we have a plan if they're cheating the line of scrimmage."

On allowing Heavner to rejoin the team last year:

"He wanted to come back. I trust what he tells me. He has always been forthright. He wanted to come back. It was important to him and if it was important to him then why shouldn't I? We all do things or make mistakes. It wasn't the right decision to leave but he realized that and came back.

"He has been through a lot personally. I certainly feel his pain for some of the things he has been through. This is the place he wanted to be so I'm happy for him."

On Oregon State:

"We will be put to another test this week facing Oregon State. They had a great win at Washington last week and they are going to stack the box. They do it anyhow. They did it to us last year and we have to find big plays again like we did last year. I don't think they can put any more people in the box than they did last year. They force you into trying to make plays. That is something we have to do and have a really good game plan

"Offensively they ran the ball really well. When you look at the Washington game, that's the best that they've run the ball all year against a quality team. Their quarterback is a really good player; he's got a strong arm. They throw the ball vertically as well as anybody. They stretch the field and they run the ball, that's their deal.

"They are going to take their 5-6 shots a game with deep balls. Last week they hit a bunch of them on Washington. That is something we have to be very conscious of. We won the game last year by creating six turnovers but we didn't play a great defense game. They had 600 yard of total offense against us so that is not something we are really accustomed to.

"We are playing more soundly defensively. Having that group intact has made a big difference and we're developing some really quality depth. We're staying healthy on defense and that's key. Not giving up big plays is going to be big this week for our secondary and controlling the running game. Yvenson Bernard has run really well. They have a nice scheme running the football. That will be a major concern for us."

On the co-coordinator situation against Stanford:

"I thought it was fine. I think Dana brought a lot of good ideas and stability to our run game. It's about winning and that's the bottom line. Our coaches did a great job of getting our kids ready to play and put us in a situation to win.

"We coached better and that's plain and simple. We had a better plan. Our kids executed well and that's coaching. You can't always blame the players for certain things. You have to set up a plan each week that has the greatest chance for success and we did that and we executed. We need to do the exact same thing this week."

On Daniel Borg and the offensive line:

"Borg played wonderful. He was really, really good. Those guys all played well. I'm really happy for our offensive line. We really blocked, our footwork was better, our mechanics were better and fundamentals all the way around were better."

On Lyon's preparedness compared to Tuitama a year ago:

"I don't think he is quite that far but he is a very intelligent player and has really done well. His package would be even more limited if we got to that situation. He is a big thrower and he comes from a running offense so he handles the ball extremely well. I think he will be fine. He is just young and you can't ask him to do a whole lot. We would have to simplify things but I think he would do well."

On pulling Lyon's redshirt:

"We talked to the family and that is just part of it, part of being a team. Hopefully we don't have to (play him) but if we do you have to look at the situation where we are at in the game and take all of that into consideration.

"The rules, it really hurts the player. After a certain period of time if he only plays one snap, two snaps, 10 snaps, he loses his whole year. That's just hurting the player. I don't know if we ever get to the rule where you have five years of eligibly.

"I know that is in the works, especially with the expanded seasons, more kids get hurt and you have to play younger players. All the coaches are in favor of that, whether we can get to that would be something that will get increasingly more support as you go through these seasons."

On Michael Johnson's health:

"Michael has played really well. He has played hurt. He hasn't practiced a day in the last three weeks with a thigh injury but has played every snap in a game. He obviously has a big future in front of him but that didn't deter him from playing. I'm really proud of him for going through that and doing that.

"He has put the team in front of his individual career. That is the kind of guy he is. It would have been really easy for him to say 'I can't go coach, I'm not going to play.' He could barely bend his leg all the way up. He couldn't get full range.

"It was just a slight pull in his quad but it was black and blue and swelled up. He played through it and has gotten better. Now he has back to pretty close to 100 percent. He is one of those guys when something pulls or he gets a sprain he swells. Some people swell differently but he swelled up really bad.

"This happened just in practice. He didn't know what he did and the next day it got really big and we didn't know what was wrong. But we MRI'ed him and cleared him and by Saturday he was able to get pretty close to full range and really has played hurt pretty much the last two weeks. Saturday was the best he's felt in three weeks."


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