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October 2, 2007

Mike Stoops reviews WSU game

UA head coach Mike Stoops started off his weekly press conference on Monday by reviewing the Washington State game before talking about injuries and Oregon State.

Here are some of Stoops' quotes:

Opening statement:

"I thought it was a good win overall. I thought our kids played good for the course of the game and really finished strong. I thought offensively we had good rhythm to our offense and really executed some things well in the run game and Nic (Grigsby) was obviously a big part of that. I thought he made some excellent runs, some big time cuts, and he just made some plays.

"The kid plays with a lot of confidence and a lot of attitude and it's good to have a back that gives us another dimension back there that we needed this season. He's really stepped up and played well for us and that helps.

"I thought the offensive line did an excellent job run-blocking. Our zone concepts and power run game were good most of the night. I thought we executed some things really well and the line played probably their best overall game.

"(Rob) Gronkowski played well and Willie (Tuitama) played his best overall game. Offensively we had a lot of guys step up and play well. Anytime you score 48 points and punt one time throughout the course of the game, obviously you have some guys playing well. It was good to see us have some balance in our offense. We will continue to try and move that along in a positive direction.

"Defensively we still are struggling in some areas to get off the field to make some plays. For whatever reason we're just not executing as well as we would like. I thought Alex Brink was terrific and some of the receivers were good. I thought they made some nice plays and they're going to make the plays, that's just the type of people we play; the offenses we see.

"You're not going to make them all but we have to make sure we challenge and make enough ourselves. We started doing that I believe from the first drive of the second half on; we started challenging and making some plays. We just need more guys to step up and make plays in critical situations. It's hard because there's not one particular area when you put your finger on it.

"I thought our run defense was excellent. The one run they had of 20 yards, we had the play in the backfield if we just do what we're supposed to do. It's a lot of things but nothing that's really glaring in the fact that our pass defense has to improve and it's something we'll work hard on.

"We're just a little bit off. Defensively we haven't played up to our capabilities and we need to quit making excuses and step up and play better. Hopefully we can put it together. I still think we haven't played our best football by any stretch of the imagination and that's encouraging to me. I know we're capable of playing better than we have defensively.

"This week, Oregon State, they're probably saying a lot of the same things. I think there have been a lot of missed opportunities by them. They've been in every game and in the fourth quarter things have just fallen apart and turnovers have really hurt them in critical situations. They're not finishing some drives. I think when you look at them, it's really been probably a frustrating year. They probably feel similar to our defense, like they're not too far away.

"The quarterback has shown a strong arm and ability to throw the ball down the field. They've been kind of snake bit a little bit as well. He's been a little off the times or something is just not right in critical situations and that's why they haven't been able to finish games. (Yvenson) Bernard has been a player in this league for many years. He really carries that team in a lot of different ways. He's a tremendous player.

"(Sammie) Stroughter didn't play last week and that obviously throws them out of kilter. He's the other big play threat they have out there. Whether he plays or not, we won't know. We haven't seen anything yet but we'll prepare as if he's going to play. He gives them a threat down the field at anytime. It's an important game like all of them. You take them one at a time and prepare the best you can. We need a great week.

"I think Adrian (McCovy) (back injury) will be the only guy out - and Dominic Patrick, with a knee sprain, will be out for a couple weeks. Mike Turner had a slight concussion at the end of last week which is why he was held out Saturday but he'll be practicing today."

On the UA run game:

"We went in there with the ability to run the football and it was going well so we just kind of stayed with it. We ran 45 times so I don't think you'll see that this week… You always have to have the ability to run and I think we've been working really hard and that's something we've worked hard at the past couple of weeks, going good on good.

"We're trying to get better on both sides and making sure our defense hasn't gotten soft. When you go against scout players everyday, you have a tendency to do that and we've tried to go good on good more to have a more physical presence at the line of scrimmage. Hopefully that paid off for us.

"When they drop eight guys we have to have the ability to run the football. If they're going to drop eight guys then we're going to run it down your throat. We better be able to do that. You can't let people do that; it gets too hard to throw the football. You don't want to be stubborn; you have to be able to take what the defense gives you.

"The quarterback has to recognize that and we have to have capabilities of getting in and out of plays and I thought Willie did an excellent job, for the most part, of getting our plays where they need to be.

"I thought Earl Mitchell did a great job blocking. Our zone schemes were much more effective and that's a positive thin for us. It just gives us that ability to do that. It's not an aberration; we're going to run the football. You have to be able to do that. We have to be able to do that as a team because it helps us as a team."

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