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October 16, 2007

Mike Stoops talks personnel, Stanford

At his weekly press conference on Monday, on top of talking about the USC game, UA head coach Mike Stoops also took a look at his personnel and the team's next opponent in Stanford. Here are some quotes from Stoops.

On the kickers:

"I think our kickers have done an excellent job. They're one or two in punting and field goal kicking. Our field goal kicker (Jason Bondzio) is 12 out of 15 and he's really kicked the ball nice and Keenyn (Crier) has done a nice job for it being his first season. Those two guys have done a really solid job. They have the chance to be big time players."

On how they found Crier:

"Coach (Joe) Robinson is always surfing the Internet for punters and he does a great job scouting snappers and kickers. He did a nice job finding Keenyn. We knew he was a raw talent, but he had a great leg, and his mechanics are something that still aren't where they're supposed to be, but it shows you the potential and his leg can be as good as there is. He just has great flexibility and velocity in his kicks and is still refining his technique. He's going to be a big time player."

On special teams as a whole:

"They've done an excellent job in the majority of our special teams. We need to get more production out of our return. We've kind of steadily declined and that's been an area of concern. Obviously the talent has gotten consistently better but we just have to get more out of the return. Devin (Ross) has kind of been nicked up and that's hurt us a little bit."

On Stanford:

"Stanford's an excellent football team, I think Jim (Harbaugh) has done an excellent job in the period of time he's been there. They have a very pro-oriented offense and you can see the pro influence from him in what he's done. He was a great player and a great mind. At quarterback, you can see he's had a strong influence on those kids and done a good job moving the football.

"Defensively, they're going to come after you. There's no fear in what they do. They're going to play aggressive and make you execute and beat them. They're a very good football team. They've been in a lot of games. They can really test you week in and week out and they've done a nice job competing. That's what you notice about them every week, and they already have a good gameplan."

On Harbaugh:

"I don't know him that well, I just know him as a quarterback. I might have played against him a time or two when I was at Iowa. He seems like a great guy. We haven't hung out each other. I think he stands for a lot of good principals. Their receivers are really talented; they have a good football team. You don't beat USC without having some components that you need to win.

"They have two really good quarterbacks. (Tavita) Pritchard will pull it down and run quicker, (T.C. Ostrander) will try and throw it in there and relies on his arm. (Pritchard) is a great thrower too but he'll pull down in a heartbeat and take off. I'm impressed with the young kid (Pritchard) for only playing a couple games. He showed a lot of improvement from the first game to the second."

On the importance of the game:

"It's an important game. We've played three of the past four games, three of the top teams from last year on the road. We knew it was going to be a difficult challenge but coming back home, it's a big game. We need to get back on a run here and this will be a great opportunity. We're going to have to do a lot of the same things we did last week and get our kids in a great state of mind and have a great week of preparation.

"We're relatively healthy. I think we'll get Dominic Patrick back in a week. Just to play well I think does a lot for this team. We hadn't played well and I think the last six quarters our defense has gotten better and back to where we're used to playing. When you take out the last run, we held them to what, 190 yards of total offense, and that's hard to do. Just our position, the way we played, everything was much cleaner. I don't know if it took USC to get that out of us but we're just playing better defensively.

"Offensively we just have been a little bit immature at times. The lack of maturity in the system in the players is a little frustrating but those are just the growing pains you go through against some very competitive teams."

On the running backs:

"They'll both play. I'd imagine Nic (Grigsby) will probably start (over Chris Jennings). Where we go from there will (depend) on how the game unfolds. Nic did some good things, he just was careless with the football. He's made some nice runs, hit it up in there tough and he just needs to hold onto the football. That's two fumbles in two of the past three weeks and it's something we can't have.

"There's got to be some consequences. They've got to realize that fumbling the football can't happen. We went a whole season last year without fumbling the ball so it can be done."

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