Arizona football did not have high intensity at the USC game Thursday, head coach Rich Rodriguez said in Monday’s press conference.
“I didn’t think we came out with the same kind of fire and intensity that we needed to in order to win,” Rodriguez said.
The Wildcats (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) played against USC in the Coliseum which was televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 — factors Rodriguez said should have contributed to having high intensity.
But the Wildcats fell flat, losing to USC 38-31. Rodriguez said after watching the film, he noticed there was a strong effort but that he didn’t feel the passion.
“The effort was pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “But there’s always a certain intensity there that you can kind of feel coming out of the locker room and feel on the sidelines. But it wasn’t quite like what I thought it could be.”
Senior quarterback B.J. Denker said the tone of the game is set from the opening offensive and defensive drives. If it’s a good opening drive, the momentum continues throughout the game. This wasn’t the case, however, against USC.
“On offense, we didn’t have a very good first drive and I think that might have set the tone for our first half,” Denker said.
Denker said the momentum for the week starts as far back as Tuesday, at practice.
Tuesdays are what Denker said is called “work day.” At this practice, the team is in full pads and plays at full speed.
This practice sets the tone for the week. A bad practice on Tuesday means Wednesday gets tougher in order to ensure high levels of concentration and are present throughout the week.
“If we come out flat on Tuesday, on Wednesday coach gets in our ears,” Denker said.
But Rodriguez said the Wildcats have to turn their attention to a tough Utah Utes squad this weekend. He said he hopes that playing at home for the first time in a month will bring that fire back on the sidelines.
Last week Utah (4-2, 1-2) upset then No. 5 Stanford 27-21. The Wildcats will take on Utah on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Arizona Stadium.
—Follow Scarlett McCourt @scarlettnoelani