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October 31, 2006

Mike Stoops Notebook

UA head coach Mike Stoops had his weekly press conference on Monday and spoke about several issues, including getting the offense going, the starting quarterback and running back against Washington State and other topics relating to the current state of the team.

Mike Stoops…

On improving the offense:

"We just have to keep finding ways to move the football and get points on the board. We're capable; we just have not played very consistently. Our execution has lacked in critical areas and hopefully these two weeks we can clean some things up and get better.

"We're going to have to go up there (to Washington State) and score some points on offense to win this game. Our guys know that and I think we're capable of doing that."

On the quarterback situation:

"I'm not going to name a starting quarterback at this point. Willie (Tuitama) was cleared for contact so we'll take it from there but we're going to look at all our options before we name a starting quarterback towards the end of the week. I think he was cleared for contact towards the end of last week."

On Adam Austin:

"He's coming on, whether he's cleared for full practice today or not I'm not sure but he'll be partial. We'll see how he does through some fundamental periods and we'll take it from there."

On the state of the defense and offense:

"There's nothing that jumps out at you. I think we're playing consistently and that's the biggest thing. We were giving up 4.8 (yards per run) but now we're down to 3.7 per run.

"I think you look at every other team and they have balance. We don't have balance in our team right now. That really keeps you from winning consistently. When you play one sided, it's very difficult to do.

"I think that's probably the thing that I'm most pleased with, that we're just playing consistently. If we don't throw three interceptions for touchdowns, I think we're leading the Pac-10 in scoring defense. There are things that we have to build on.

"Our kids, they just want to win. Our offensive players, they want to score points. It's not like they don't want to score. We just need to put them in better situations, we need to execute some things better and we need to make plays.

"When you look at the grand scheme of things, we're a few plays away in lot of games but sometimes it looks like we're so close yet so far. That's disheartening, it's discouraging, it's frustrating but you're still just one game away from getting yourself back in a positive position and we just haven't been good enough to do that and that's probably been the most disappointing aspect of the season up until this point."

On the play of Wilrey Fontenot and Antoine Cason:

"(Fontenot) has played okay. We are playing okay across the board in the secondary. I think we have played decently. Statistically I always feel like we can play better.

"(Fontenot) has to be a more active and a productive player. That's what we will always push for with him. He doesn't give up a bunch of big plays, but he needs to learn how to keep making plays and be a more active player in the course of a game, more like Antoine.

"Antoine gets an interference call here or there but he constantly challenges players. It evens itself out and that's the thing I like about Antoine. He will give up a 15-yarder but he is not giving up a lot of room out there to receivers. I don't think Wilrey has gotten quite confident in that yet.

"And that's the thing with Antoine, he's smart enough to know in his play that when he's starting to lose a guy, he'll take that call. But it's a give and take with that. He challenges people constantly.

"He (Cason) does not get beat very often. He has gotten an interference call because he challenges receivers a lot. He is out there on an island a lot. He will be going against one of the best receivers in the country in Jason Hill this weekend. That is a good matchup; they are both All-Conference, All-American type of players."

On Xavier Smith:

"Our inability to run the football has made it hard on all those backs. It has made it hard on everybody. Xavier shows great maturity. He is coming on. I like everything he does. He is going to be a really, really good player. He just has to keep working and he is doing the things he needs to. Our lack of overall production offensively has hurt him as well as our whole team."

On the starting running back against Washington State:

"Chris Henry will probably start at tailback. Chris has caught the ball well, he's protected the quarterback well, he's played hard and I like what Chris is doing. He's shown some signs of really a competitive spirit that we need. He has come on."

On Gilbert Harris' fumble against Washington State two years ago:

"I think about it a lot, but I don't know. It was just unfortunate. The kid was trying to do the right thing, he had both hands and just got hit an awkward way. It was an unfortunate way to get started but I worry about a lot of things but not that as much."

On how recruiting went during the bye week:

"We had two good days of recruiting. We needed that time to see where we are at with a lot of kids and to make sure we are on the right kids and coaches got a chance to see kids during practice time and not in games. It was a very beneficial two days. I think we got a lot out of it.

"(The response) has been positive. We are still in the mix with a lot of top players. We're still good with all of our guys. I think we're recruiting well."

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