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August 15, 2013
The Pac-12 Networks crew is in the midst of a 16-day tour around the 12-team league, stopping by each school's fall football camp.
On Monday, the video crew rolled into Arizona Stadium with host Mike Yam and analyst Rick Neuheisel, the former UCLA head coach-turned-TV personality. "Pac-12 Football Training Camp" will preview each program for the upcoming season, and the 30-minute Arizona episode is scheduled to air Thursday at 7 p.m. PT/local Tucson time.
After practice, GOAZCATS.com caught up with Neuheisel to get his thoughts on the Wildcats:
"I loved it. This coaching staff coaches hard, they're aggressive. I love (Rich Rodriguez's) mantra of 'making them comfortable being uncomfortable,' and pushing, pushing, pushing.
"As long as he can continue to develop leaders within the team - it's one thing for the coaching staff to do it; it's another when the players start doing it themselves."
On the Arizona offense
"When you spread the field and make people defend 53 1/3 yards wide, it becomes much more difficult. You take a lot of pressure off your front. People have to (account for) your wide receivers, so there's less [defenders] in the box and you don't have to block for long because the ball's getting out of the quarterback's hand."
On the quarterback competition
"(B.J.) Denker looked fine. I think the job is there to be won. I think [Rodriguez] is just waiting for someone to assert himself and take it over and know everything.
"One thing about quarterbacks is: It's one thing to do what you're supposed to do on any particular play, but more importantly, almost, is to know what you're supposed to do. When he finds that guy that knows all the right answers and then can execute it at uptempo pace, then he's gonna have his guy."
On the defense
"He's encouraged by his defense. I thought it looked pretty good. We were asking about the 3-3-5; basically, everybody's playing a 3-3-5 or variation because everybody's so spread out with their personnel groups offensively in this league that you play a lot of nickel, anyway. That's basically what a 3-3-5 is, just an odd-front nickel defense.
"But the hard part will be when you line up against two-back teams. In this league, right now, the only one that does that exclusively is Stanford."
On the trip to Arizona compared to previous stops
"Early in this tour of camps, it was the first or second day (of practices). So, you saw all kinds of enthusiasm, guys looked really fresh.
"Now, we're into the second week of camp and you could see a little leg-weary guys. So you have to make that adjustment in your mind before you start grading, as to who is ready and where they are. It wasn't so long ago I was going through this grind of camp.
"I like how they're pushing through it. They're not going to just relax."
On quarterback experience as it relates to a team's ceiling
"I would (place a ceiling), except that there's too many examples in the RichRod era that first-year quarterbacks have flourished. Last year, Matt Scott in this offense was phenomenal. Denard Robinson at Michigan was phenomenal. So, I don't put it past somebody rising to that level in Year 1 of this offense. There's so many answers for what defenses do, it's just the ability to make quick decisions and make accurate decisions."
On running back Ka'Deem Carey
"I think he's the best running back in the country. It's a great offense. I love the way he runs violently. You just knock on wood that he can stay healthy because he's going to dictate what defenses do."
On how coaches deal with wide-open competitions in camp
"You keep looking for things. There's no one competition, no one contest that says, 'OK, the winner of this is our starter.' You keep looking for things. Sometimes, the place where they separate themselves isn't on the field, at all. It's in the meeting rooms, where they just know more. The confidence of what they know is so exhibited in the meeting room. You don't see them looking on anybody else's paper or asking questions of anybody else - they're almost teaching the class. When you get that guy who can teach the class, as long as he has the requisite amount of athletic ability and can make decisions - doesn't feel the heat when the lights come on - then you've got your guy."
On first impression of true freshman quarterback Anu Solomon
"Great-looking youngster, still in the conscious portion of his mind. When it becomes the subconscious in the decisions, that's when you'll see his natural ability. He's trying to think too much, right now, and thinking is slowing him down."