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September 3, 2007

Mike Stoops reviews BYU game

UA head coach Mike Stoops addressed the media during his weekly press conference on Monday. He spent a good portion of the presser discussing the UA's 20-7 loss to BYU. Here are Stoops' thoughts on the game.

Opening statement:

"Reviewing the film yesterday, much like we talked about the other night, I was disappointed with the way we played collectively as a group, take out the special teams, I didn't think we played up to our capabilities.

"Obviously BYU was very well prepared and played well in a lot of different areas. Defensively I didn't think we tackled particularly well; those backs made some terrific plays in critical situations that really kept us off balance. To me the tackling, the run game, it wasn't a great per (carry) average but they kept us off balance all day with the run game.

"Their offensive line protected the quarterback better than they did previously when we played them. 3rd downs, that was a big part of the defense, we stopped them a couple times and missed tackles and they made some big plays.

"Offensively we never really got in sync and in rhythm. I thought our run game wasn't very good; it was pretty ineffective all night. On the road, first game, I think we played a little conservatively and tried to play to our strength. Obviously not getting points right off the bat… made a couple of tough calls, probably should have taken some points on the road right away, we just didn't want to put our kicker (in a tough situation); that's a tough first kick. It's not that I didn't have confidence (in the kicker), I just thought we were going to have to score some points.

"I'm really disappointed that we didn't execute that play better. We worked that run and we just didn't execute it very well and that's kind of been our Achilles offensively, just our lack of execution and productivity because of it. I'm disappointed, I just thought didn't play very well in the run game.

"I thought they pressured the quarterback well and that leads to Willie (Tuitama) getting antsy and not sitting in there when he does have some time and that's very understandable. Willie will learn a lot and has to keep getting comfortable. We have to improve our protection, improve our run game and then you look at the penalties we had, on 3rd and 1 , we're down inside the 20, we get a 15-yard face mask down there a couple different times. We definitely didn't help ourselves and we're obviously still not good enough to overcome those situations.

"I'm really pleased with our kickers, I thought they did a great job. I'm really pleased with the way we continue to play special teams wise.

"It was just an overall disappointing effort against a very good football team. All being said I thought we still had a chance. We probably should have punted with six minutes to go and still give our defense a chance to pin them down and score and fight our way through it.

"It was a tough opening game against a really solid team that was very well prepared. They played well. They seemed to be one step ahead of our offense all day for whatever reason. I think a lot of it goes back to our inability to run the football."

On biggest adjustments that need to be made before NAU:

"Offensively I didn't think we played particularly fast. We looked timid a little bit, unsure of ourselves, and you can't play that way, especially against a big time opponent like we did the other day. The played more aggressively and I don't think harder, but they played faster than we did. This offense, we have to play faster than that.

"We need to get more out of our running back position and that's something we'll continue to evaluate and work on. Chris (Jennings) didn't have a lot of running room either."

On playing faster offensively:

"It has more to do with the receivers, the protection, getting to our spots a little bit better and just being more sure of ourselves. I thought Willie's accuracy was really good when he got time. There were some things open and other times we got pressure that hurt some execution on some plays. They did some twist stunts that really bothered us and it shouldn't of."

On how much the game would have changed had UA converted the 4th and 5 in the first quarter:

"It was a big play in the game just to give us some confidence. We needed something positive to happen starting the game. They got a couple first downs and then we knocked the ball loose. They had us off-balance; they no-huddled and were going pretty quick there at the beginning of the game but our defense finally settled down and came up with a big turnover. It could have been a big series in the game. I think those were all big, especially the lack of experience we had on the road against a quality team. It could have gone a long way for us, no question."

On adjustments on defense that need to be made:

"Structurally it was solid. They spread the field and get the ball to those backs. The backs caught 19 balls. I thought our corners covered exceptionally well. The tight end and the backs, it was just uncanny how they spaced us really well, they got between our zones and the quarterback did a good job of getting the ball on time. We start playing some man and he got loose a time or two and they do that to you. They're very good at what they do."

On the offense being too conservative:

"Sonny (Dykes) was probably too conservative but we never got into the flow of the game, we wore our defense down early into the game and we can't do that. It was a tough environment against a very good team that executes the more opportunities you give them. You saw they were able to work some things on us. I still don't think defensively we played anywhere close to our capabilities. We had some people that didn't play well enough for us to win and we need to play better than that defensively."

On Dykes being "shocked" at what happened offensively:

"Those guys, they don't get shut down very often. They're very confident in what they're doing and that's good. I think they're shocked, disappointed and probably somewhat embarrassed but that's what this game will do to you, it will humble you. They're very competitive people and that's what I love about all of our guys. They'll bounce back, it was a tough opener for a lot of reasons and it's no excuse for the way we played by any stretch of the imagination but BYU had a lot to do with it as well."

On BYU competing the Pac-10:

"They're pretty good. They can compete, I would think, as well as anybody. They have a whole team full of Spencer Larsen's. I'd take one hundred Spencer Larsen's if I could get them. That's what you have to realize, they have maturity, they go on missions for two years, their average age is probably 22-24, I would think, and that's just the way they do it. They go to school for a year, they learn the system, they go on a mission for two years and then they redshirt them. Who knows how old some of those kids were but they were very physical. I think you notice it more with their linemen than you do with their skill (players). Their skill guys, they're not all 4.4 guys but they have enough skill and they play a very sound football game. That tells me they could compete pretty much regularly in any BCS conference. Just watch them this year."

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