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December 30, 2014

Rich Rodriguez


THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll now start with opening remarks from Coach Rodriguez.
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ First off, I'd like to thank everybody at the Fiesta Bowl Committee for a great week so far.テつ The hospitality and organization has been terrific, just like we thought it would be.
I think our staff, our players, everybody in our program, has enjoyed the experience so far, while trying to stay focused open the game.
I know our players are getting really excited about playing in this venue in this great bowl game.テつ We've had good practices.テつ I think it's going to be a great thing for our fans.テつ We're excited to represent the University of Arizona.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll start with questions.

Q.テつ In a bowl game, how much do you rely on your seniors to set the tone early?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Yeah, I think it's important for the seniors off‑season, but particularly here where you're going to spend four, five days in another environment, making sure they're focused and preparation.テつ You want that balance as a coach.テつ You want them to enjoy what a bowl game presents, but keeping focused on the main thing, which is playing the game.
I think our seniors have done a good job all year.テつ It's a neat group.テつ There's a some fifth‑year seniors, also one‑ or two‑year seniors.テつ They've come together and done a good job of being loud in their leadership and sometimes being quiet in their leadership.テつ They've really done a nice job.

Q. テつThrough all the bowl games you've been in, can you get a vibe on the psyche of the team going in?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I thought I could.テつ But any more, I think you get a good feeling when you make a lot of mental mistakes during practice, particularly the last couple practices, that either your game plan is too much or your guys aren't as dialed as you think.
Our guys have been pretty sharp mentally, which has been good.テつ There's been other bowl games I've been in where we had a lot of mistakes a day or two before the game, they've come out and executed really well.
I think you can tell by their excitement level as your practice is geared toward getting closer to game time.テつ Our guys seemed pretty excited after yesterday's practice because the game was closer and practice was over.テつ Either way, I think they're ready to play.

Q.テつ You've done a great job with the University of Arizona.テつ You've also had some interesting experiences with Michigan and West Virginia.テつ How would you compare the support you've received from the athletic departments of the three schools?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I've been fortunate to be part of those three.テつ I think they're comparative in a lot of ways.テつ I think all three of them, West Virginia, Michigan, certainly University of Arizona, athletics is a big part of the university, the town.テつ You get great fan support.テつ It's important, athletics.テつ Winning is important.テつ That's been good.
But I think they're all a little bit different, too.テつ For any coach to think you go to one school or another school, you don't have issues or things to overcome, everybody's got things to overcome.テつ Some got more than others.
All I know is since day one when we got to the University of Arizona a few years back, everybody has been totally supportive both in and outside the athletic department.テつ They've been rooting for us to do well since day one.テつ I think that's helped us in transition.

Q.テつ Boise State has had a reputation in these games specifically for some people calling trick plays or misdirection.テつ Certainly during the regular season they've done that again.テつ How have you prepared for the unexpected?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ It's harder obviously defensively because they'll do a lot of different things.テつ I don't know if you can call them trick plays because they execute them so well and do it so often.
You've got to be ready for not only the so‑called trick plays, but the unbalanced formations, unconventional looks you see that they do a great job of executing.テつ That's the biggest thing, they have great players that execute well and play hard.
For our defensive staff, they have to spend a lot of times on formations, possible things that could happen.テつ You have to rely on experience.テつ We have a few experienced guys, in the secondary especially, that have to recognize when something is maybe a little bit off or something is coming that maybe they haven't seen before.

Q.テつ Are you going to go to the stadium at all before game day?テつ What is your philosophy on that?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ We don't do much on Fridays.テつ A lot of coaches have a different philosophy.テつ We'll go over to the stadium, walk through, let them get a feel for it, go through a few last‑second reminders.テつ We'll have a couple meetings today.テつ That's about it.テつ It's usually a day to relax.
Tonight show a little film, last‑minute reminders.テつ The day of the game we'll get up, eat some breakfast, go play the game, which is nice to us, because we're used to playing night games.テつ I don't know about the players, but I like waking up and going to play.

Q.テつ The national story today is Jim Harbaugh going to Michigan.テつ Do you have some thoughts on that and the salary structure?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ What was he getting paid?

Q.テつ The decimal point has moved down a little bit.テつ Thoughts on it?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Gosh, you just caught me off guard there.テつ I didn't think I was going to get a Michigan question (smiling).
I'm happy for Jim.テつ Michigan has great support, without question.テつ They've got tremendous fan support, great resources.テつ Looks like they targeted Jim probably from day one, thrilled that he's coming back.テつ I don't know him, but I know he wins.テつ He has had great success as a player, great success as a coach.テつ I'm sure they're excited.

Q.テつ What has this week been like for you after having missed out on the 2008 game?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I wasn't here the last time.テつ A lot of my staff was here.テつ It's been like not just a normal bowl week, but a normal workweek.テつ We kept the same schedule.テつ As coaches, normally we meet and watch film before practice.テつ This week we practiced and coaches watched film after.テつ Other than that it's been a normal thing.
I think the bowl folks do a great job of having a few events that are really nice that the coaches and players are a part of, but also giving you a lot of time to get your work done.テつ I think it's been a great mix.
Our staff is really close.テつ When we get here, a lot of the families are together.テつ I like to get in some family time, too, in the evening.テつ I think we've enjoyed it.

Q.テつ What are your thoughts on playing at the University of Phoenix stadium?テつ Have you been inside there before, and the fact that the Super Bowl is going to be there?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ No, I haven't.テつ Coach Arians is a good friend of mine.テつ We have a standing invitation to come and watch.テつ I'm excited about it.テつ It's a great venue.テつ The fact that they're having the Super Bowl here, it's a pro stadium, it will be first class.テつ I know our players are pretty jacked up about it.テつ We're going to take a look at it in a couple hours.

Q.テつ What was the vibe of yesterday's practice with it being the last one before the game and the last one for the seniors overall?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ It was pretty good, pretty focused.テつ I thought the beginning of practice they would be more excited to get it started.テつ I think as practice went along, probably a little nostalgic for the seniors, realizing it was the last one.
We recognized them afterwards, had them get carried off, all this stuff.テつ I always do that, carry the seniors off on campus before the last home game, then their last practice, period, which was yesterday.テつ So that was probably emotional and exciting for the seniors particularly.
Our underclassmen, I want them to maybe see what it's going to feel like hopefully for them when they get an opportunity in their last game.テつ It goes by so quickly.テつ The seniors would probably tell you this is a pretty neat way to end their careers.

Q.テつ You have a lot of guys on your team that started their college football careers someplace else.テつ How did that come to be?テつ How have you gotten these guys to buy into something together?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ We got a bunch of misfits, coaches included.テつ It's a band of misfits.テつ Some of them have been there their whole career, some have been bouncing around a little bit.
I think we have the kind of environment that welcomes guys like that.テつ But they have to adjust to us.テつ I've been asked that question before.テつ How do you adjust when you get guys coming, whether coming from another four‑year school, walk‑on as a scholarship, bounce‑back from a junior college, what have you.テつ They have to adjust to the program.テつ The program doesn't adjust to them.
I think they sense that as soon as they get there.テつ This is sometimes a second opportunity or sometimes a chance for them to start over again.
But they have to buy into what the program is about.テつ Our guys have done a really good job of that.
You're still going to build your program mostly on high school recruits, you're recruiting is based on that.テつ But to have a few extra guys from different backgrounds or different situations, I've always been able to have a few that's been able to help.テつ This year's no different.

Q.テつ Going into this season, how concerned were you offensively without having Ka'Deem?テつ Looking back, how pleasantly surprised have you been?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ We lost not only Ka'Deem, but breaking in a new quarterback, a runningback, a couple new linemen.テつ There were a lot of question marks coming in.
We thought there was some talent there.テつ But still there wasn't anybody that was going to match Ka'Deem Carey.テつ I thought he was one of the best in the country.テつ Nick Wilson, Terrence Jones, both did a nice job.
Were they as good as Ka'Deem?テつ No, but Ka'Deem was special.テつ They did a good enough job for us to have success running the football.テつ At times we haven't run as well as we would have liked.テつ But they're good football players.テつ I think our talent on outside the skill positions helped offset that loss of Ka'Deem.

Q.テつ If the game is not going well, it's halftime, you're going to be giving a talk to the players, rumors are sometimes you get visibly upset.テつ What is your demeanor like and approach to the players?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Usually if we're not playing well I'm ticked.テつ If we're playing well, I'm not (smiling).テつ I don't try to hide it.テつ It's the same way in practice.テつ Usually you can tell if we're playing well by our demeanor.テつ If a guy is playing really poorly, not giving great effort, I'm not going to pat him on the back, tell him I love him, hold hand and sing Kumbaya, and we'll be okay in th end.テつ That's not the way you operate.
Then again, I don't think you can scream and yell your way into playing better.テつ If you aren't playing well, you need to look into why aren't we playing well.テつ Is it something we're doing as coaches?テつ Something we need to simplify?テつ Is the guy not focused?テつ Maybe he's banged up a bit.テつ You look at all the reasons why.
We just go play.テつ One of the reasons we've had some success this year, our guys believe it.テつ We've won a lot of games at the end, we've lost a couple at the end.テつ Our guys have played.テつ We've been down at halftime this year.
I'll probably scream and yell a little bit.テつ But most of halftime, it's not as much time as everybody thinks for adjustments.テつ You got about 10 minutes to make a few adjustments, but you better be making them throughout the game.
I think the halftime talks and adjustments are usually overrated.

Q.テつ You talked yesterday about this team's ability to play for four quarters no matter what the score is.テつ Why do you think this team has embraced the 60 minutes so well?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ We talked about so much.テつ I thought even the first day of practice back in August, I think we have some talent, but we're not a team that's going to get off the bus, show up, dominate someone physically.テつ We have to be guys that play hard, execute well, just keep clawing till the end.
Conditioning is going to be a big part of it.テつ Guys were really in good shape at the beginning of camp.テつ We tried to keep that up.テつ I think our guys are in really good shape and can play for four quarters, 60 minutes.テつ I think they also know they have to do it that way.
Not that we don't have talent, because we do.テつ We're not so talented that we can go, mess around, win.テつ I said for years, I know we truly arrived when we can show up, play poorly and win.テつ I'm not sure we're there.
We have the ability to play well at times.テつ And if we do enough of that to give us a chance at the end, who knows what will happen in the end.

Q.テつ There have been a lot of lopsided games this year.テつ Does it surprise you?テつ What do you do when you feel it slipping away?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Yeah, winning is all good, let's keep it going.テつ I think more than anything, momentum is such a big deal in football, but particularly at this level.テつ If momentum is clearly on the other team, you got to do something to stem the tide a little bit, get your guys going.
We were down big in a game or two this year, our guys kept playing.テつ Our last game wasn't good in that regard.テつ But I think a lot of times it's just guys keep playing, something to shift the momentum.
But it's an emotional game.テつ You got to try to turn it somehow.テつ You hope your guys have the mindset.テつ I don't ever look at the scoreboard whether we're ahead or behind anyway until the last second ticks off.

Q.テつ How did the team respond to the loss in the PAC‑12 championship game?テつ Is this a shot at redemption for them?
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ I don't know if it's redemption because that game was a different team, different environment.テつ Normally you say 24 hours, move on.テつ I was mad for a couple weeks afterwards.テつ I think the players responded a little easier.テつ I think they were over it a couple days after.テつ We talked about it, tried to correct our mistakes.
It's so far removed now, it's a whole different kind of deal with this.テつ I think our guys, maybe it's in the back of their mind.テつ Last game we played.テつ I don't want them thinking about it.テつ I don't want them thinking about it tomorrow when we tee it up.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.
COACH RODRIGUEZ:テつ Thanks for everything.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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