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Arizona Football: Rich Rodriguez disappointed with special teams, pleased with offense

There may be some changes coming on special teams in the near future

Garic Wharton reels in a deep pass from B.J. Denker
Garic Wharton reels in a deep pass from B.J. Denker
Stephen Dunn

After the Arizona Wildcats' 38-31 loss to the USC Trojans last Thursday, the offense answered a lot of questions hanging over their heads, but special teams certainly left a lot to be desired.

"That game I didn't think we were good at all," said head coach Rich Rodriguez.  "I thought we'd been pretty solid on special teams most of the year.  We had a botched snap on an extra point, kickoff returns weren't good, had a punt that was tipped....we worked really hard on it too to try and get better."

"I was really disappointed overall with our special teams."

Several weeks ago, backup kicker Casey Skowron pulled his groin in practice, but he is almost back to full health heading into this week's game vs. Utah.

"He's better now," said Rodriguez.  "Last night he kicked the best since before he got injured."

"I've still got confidence in Jake (Smith).  Going back, (Casey) was pretty tight with Jake before he pulled his groin so hopefully now we've got a little bit of competition there.  But Jake is such a conscientious guy that whatever he did wrong technically, he'll go back and work on it and make it better.  It's good to have competition there though."

"I'm involved in all the special teams too," continued Rodriguez, "so I've gotta take the blame if there's anything scheme wise that we've got to improve.  That comes back on me."

Not a lot of starters are on the special teams units, but it sounded like there's a chance we could see some more heading forward.  "We're trying to give them a little bit of a break....if we have to put more starters on there we can, but our depth is still not at the point where we can afford to put a lot of starters on all the special team units."


Coach Rodriguez was definitely happy with how the passing game progressed from Washington to USC, and really even from the first half of the USC game to the second half.

"I was happy with the performance from the offensive unit, definitely in the second half," said quarterback B.J. Denker.  "Going back and watching the film was a little frustrating because of the lack of execution in the first half.  If we had played like how we did in the second half I would have been much happier after the game."

"It was pretty frustrating to see all those points we left out on the field."

The USC game was the first game since September 22, 2012 at Oregon that Ka'Deem Carey did not pick up a rushing touchdown.

"I don't think Ka'Deem had his best game," said Rodriguez, "but he's not had a bad game either.  He comes and plays, he has great passion.  And that's what we want from all our guys all the time."

Coach also hinted that we may see more two-back sets moving forward with Carey and Daniel Jenkins.  Of course, he said this a lot during fall camp too, and it hasn't happened almost at all the last three games.


The main thing with the defense against USC was the inability for the defensive linemen to get off blocks.  Rodriguez said he rotated guys up front a lot more than in any game up to this point.  "I don't know if it was a strength issue, they did a good job of getting on us."

"I don't think it was a conditioning problem at all," added Reggie Gilbert.  "We just missed some assignments.  I don't think we were outworked at any point.  We just shot ourselves in the foot."

"We're focusing on getting more separation at the point of attack this week."