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December 27, 2014

Jeff Casteel


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Watching Boise State on film, what stands out?
COACH CASTEEL:  You know what, number one, they're tough and physical, hard‑nosed.  Very innovative.  They don't hold still.  They do a lot of movement.
Very well‑coached.  Outstanding talent at the runningback position.  Obviously the quarterback does a lot of things with his feet where he can run it and hurt you.  They got some guys outside that can make some plays.
I think the big thing is they're physical and tough.  They play hard.  Multiple formations.
It's ruined my Christmas trying to get ready for those guys (laughter).

Q.  (Question regarding Ajayi.)
COACH CASTEEL:  He's such a physical guy, has the speed and quickness.  Has great vision.  He's an NFL guy.  He runs behind his pads.  If you don't get under him, you're going to take a pounding.
He's a physical guy.

Q.  What do you make of the year that Scooby has been able to have?
COACH CASTEEL:  Scooby obviously has had a great year.  I think for anybody to foresee he was going to do some of the things he did...
It's a product of his hard work.  He works at everything that he does.  Everything that he does is game day to him.  Probably talking to you guys today, it's game day for him.
I think that's probably what separates him a little bit.  He's a tough, physical, hard‑nosed player that really studies the game.  I think he's just going to continue to get better.
He can do a lot of different things.  He can rush the quarterback.  He's instinctive.  He's got a nose for the football.  He's played a lot of plays.
I still think he has some of his best football in front of him.

Q.  Fun coaching a guy like him?
COACH CASTEEL:  Absolutely.  It's fun coaching all of 'em.  I think all of our kids, they've had a good year and they're learning how to work.  Scooby, the honors that he's received, that's not his makeup, to change him.
We're going to get on him and make sure that he stays humble.  If you spend any time around him, he's a great kid.  He's going to handle it real well.

Q.  Tevis is a guy that didn't have a lot of accolades coming out.  He ended up walking on.  What has impressed you about the season he's had?
COACH CASTEEL:  When we were here three years ago, we saw a guy that's a tough kid, is a good football player.  Measurable‑wise, you know, it's not what you're looking for.  When you start playing football, he makes a lot of plays.  He's a tough kid.  He's able to do a lot of things that you can't coach.  He has the innate ability to make some plays and just play the game.
I think he's had a great year.  He's been healthy for the first time since we've been at Arizona.  He's had some ankles and that the past few seasons.
But he's a leader.  He does all the things that we want him to do on the football field, but he also does a lot of things off the field, in the locker room, in the meeting rooms, that really helps us coaches out.

Q.  What has this renaissance here at Arizona been like for you guys after everything you went through?
COACH CASTEEL:  Obviously to have a chance to win, whatever, 10 games, have a chance to win an 11th one here, it's fun to get a chance to go to a different part of the country.  You're working with different kids.  You fall in love with them.  The next thing you know, you're having a good year.
Our coaching staff goes back a long way.  We've got great guys on our coaching staff offensively and defensively, good people.  I think the kids realize that.
They've grown here in the last few years.  Hopefully we can continue to get a little bit better as we move forward.

Q.  You mentioned the preparation ruining your Christmas.  What is it about, the shifts, multiplicity of formations?
COACH CASTEEL:  The problem is, the kids over there, they got to do all the things, so we got to get them to go through all the mental gymnastics.  It still comes down to a basic football play.
But, you know, their coaching staff does a great job.  Their kids do a really good job of executing.  Thank God we had three weeks to run 'em back and forth.  Hopefully Wednesday our kids can do a good job of adjusting to it.
Again, they just do so many good things.  They're going to put formation into the boundary, they're going to attack you to the field.  They just do a lot of different things that is really good football.

Q.  What about the quarterback?
COACH CASTEEL:  Does a great job.  He has the ability to beat you with his feet a little bit.  He'll run the football a little bit with some of their called runs, with the lead back, they have a hat advantage on you on those things.
He's completing 70% of his balls, I believe.  He spreads it around, too.  Again, the runningback, Jay, he's caught 45, 50 balls.
So they're a pain in the butt to get ready for.  But it will be fun.  I think our kids are excited to play.  I'm sure their kids are.
I don't know any of their guys on their staff, but I know some guys that do.  Say they're good guys, good people.  Hopefully have a chance to meet them sometime in the next few days.

Q.  They had a couple Friday night games.  Had you seen them at all before you found out you were playing them?
COACH CASTEEL:  I looked at them when they were playing Fresno.  They came out, ran that group of kids off the field, ran another group on.  That's a headache for another day (laughter).

Q.  They've been efficient in the red zone.  What have you seen in the red zone that they're doing?
COACH CASTEEL:  You know, I think, number one, if you have an outstanding back like they have, kids up front that get after you, you get in the red zone, you have opportunities.  The other thing they do a great job is their play‑action game.  They're able to do a lot of different things.
They're not just going to run the football.  They always have a companion off of whatever they're doing.  So our kids have to be disciplined.

Q.  Despite all the attention on Scooby, how has he been able to succeed?
COACH CASTEEL:  He's a guy that's really a good football player.  That probably doesn't help the question a whole lot, but sometimes those guys are.  He works at it.  He has a plan of action of who he's going to play against, what type of things he thinks he can have success with.
It will be fun to watch to see how he does here.  But if you spend any time around him, his work ethic is off the charts.

Q.  What has Gross helped you do as he's been in the system?
COACH CASTEEL:  I think if you talked to him this time last year, he was probably playing at least with one eye closed if not both of them closed.  He was still learning.  He had to play as a true freshman.  I think that's hard on anybody.
This year he was able to understand a little bit more.  The game has slowed down for him.  You jump into the PAC‑12, play some of the teams we've been playing, as a true freshman, that's a pretty big jump.
I think that's kind of slowed down for him this year.  Like I say, I think he's going to continue to get better as we move forward.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH CASTEEL:  He's just like that, though.  He's very similar to the majority of the kids we saw.  He runs behind his pads and is physical.  He's got the wiggle, can get out and run.  That's the tough part with a kid like that.  You got to get your feet on the ground to make good contact on him, then he moves.
He's a good runningback, really good runningback, with good vision.

Q.  (Question regarding the Boise State offense.)
COACH CASTEEL:  We better do a good job of handling the things that he does.  If not, you know...
Everything starts with the running game.  They throw the ball off their running game.
The kid, he's a good football player, averaging five, five and a half yards a carry.  We have to make sure that we're doing a good job with him.

Q.  What do you see with the pass protection?
COACH CASTEEL:  He does a good job in pass protection.  I think he's a well‑rounded football player.  I think he does what he needs to do in protection.  The thing is, it's one thing after another.
Their coaches need to just settle that down a little bit (smiling).  But they do a good job.

Q.  What does it mean for this program to get here?
COACH CASTEEL:  Obviously it's a tribute to our kids' hard work.  I think it's obviously a big step, and hopefully we play well, move forward.  Eventually those are things that happen all the time.  That's the goal that we're working towards.
We still have a lot of work towards that, but hopefully University of Arizona football can be in the conversation nationally as we move forward.

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