Oct. 4, 2004
Well we are going into the Arizona week. Now we are in the meat of our Pac-10 schedule. The non-conference games are over and now it's time to get to the business at hand. We have a great challenge this week with a team that had a bye last week. They are fourth in the conference in defense. They are having some nuances offensively where they are not quite getting things together. But in their most recent game against Washington State, they were able to do some things effectively, both running and throwing the football. I know with the week off and getting the chance to tune up some different issues, their offense will be much better than what they've shown at this point in the season. Mike Stoops is someone I know a little bit from our careers coaching against each other in the Big-12. He is a very good football coach. He's a good defensive coach so there is no reason not to believe his defense is as good as it is being fourth in the conference. It's going to be another challenge for our team as we continue to improve week in and week out. We are by no means a finished product. We won a pretty good game last week with an offense that probably wasn't playing it's best, but was being very effective when it had an opportunity to put points on the board we were able to do so. We didn't score as many touchdowns this week but we had field goals with Justin Medlock being perfect on the day. Our defense drastically improved and I was excited to see that. Our first half was solid. We did a nice job of controlling the tempo of the game in the first half. San Diego State in the second half had a pretty good drive on us that led to a touchdown. But other than that, our defense made some positive steps forward into getting ourselves to be in a position we are now. With another week of coaching and working on those issues, we are in an upward trend in our program.
What were the injuries from the game?
J.J. Hair had a minor rotator cuff strain. He will be available this week from the information we received from the doctors. Maurice Drew had a slight groin strain and he should be okay. Jarrad Page had a thigh bruise and they thought he might have broken a knuckle on his left hand but it was negative with the x-ray so he should be okay. No one that played in the game will miss any time for this week. So we are in pretty good shape from that standpoint. We are hopeful to get Justin London in the fold this week. Kenneth Lombard, who had a rotator cuff strain that was a little more significant that J.J. Hair's, we are going to see what he can do this week. He still had some loss of strength in that join so we'll have to see how that goes in practice as the week unfolds. Dennis Keyes, who didn't play in the game, also has a neck strain from the Washington game and he seems to be on schedule to play this week. He probably could've played in the game, but we held him out because much practice time in terms of live contact. We are getting closer and closer to full strength and there is no better time than now for it to be that way.
Can you talk about Arizona's offense and what they do?
They do a number of things. Their offensive coordinator has some NFL experience. They have a nice package of mixing things up in the running game. They are not a traditional style of offense. They do some shifting and a lot of formationing. They are striving for balance. They have a good quarterback that has a very good arm and good receivers. They have a good tailback in (Mike Bell). They did a nice job against us a year ago with really the same personnel. It was off of a bye week too coming into their place in Tucson. They had a pretty good offensive performance against us last year so we want to make sure we are not in that type of situation again going into this week. This is a Pac-10 Conference game and in this conference, in any given week anybody can beat you. We know that these are the games that really matter. (Arizona) is a dangerous team and it's just a matter of time for them to put a game together and to be clicking on all cylinders on both offense and defense.
It seems like Drew Olson starts off kind of slow for the first quarter and a half and then has a really good second half. What do you plan to do to get him going a little bit sooner?
That's a good question. What we are going to do is try to create a better comfort level in the beginning of the game. We do a great job at halftime adjusting to get him to settle down and have him finish the way we want him to finish. We just need to get him started the way he's been finishing the second half. We are working on that. It's something that's not an exact science. We are trying to put him in situations where he feels very comfortable with making great decisions and getting started off with a fast start. That is one thing that the offensive staff is working on pretty diligently, to make sure we get a better start out of him in the future.
What did you do better on defense that has made you more effective?
We didn't make as many mistakes. That is the biggest issue. We cut down our mistakes probably 70% from what it's been in the past. We still made some mistakes in the second half when they made some adjustments at halftime. They did some things that were a little bit different that what we were anticipating so we did make a few mistakes in the second half. Our young defense is getting better and better. What is exciting about them is that you can tell there is some enthusiasm on that side of the ball. They are flying around the football, tackling is getting much better. So all of those things are starting to fall into place.
For coach Karl Dorrell's complete press conference, please click on the audio link located at the top of the page.