Arizona State vs. Arizona: Wildcats treating rivalry 'like any other game'

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

With the motivation to win the Duel in the Desert coming naturally, Rich Rodriguez is trying to keep his players focused on execution.

Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez said during his weekly press conference that his team needs no extra motivation to be the rival Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday.

While there's assuredly going to be excitement, Rodriguez is attempting to keep his players focused on executing in the early practices this week, according to the press conference transcript:

"There's going to be a lot of intensity. This shouldn't be a game where I have to do all of the motivational tactics to get guys excited," Rodriguez said. "It's a rivalry game, an in-state game and a conference game. Everything is in place. This should be easy to motivate. On the flip side, we have to be able to keep our poise and composure because there is going to be a lot of intensity out there. That goes back to being disciplined and not making selfish decisions that will hurt your team."

That stance goes along with Rodriguez's wish to keep the team emotionally steady. In a similar but more direct approach, he said this summer that he wanted his team to treat each play like it's one against the Sun Devils.

Rodriguez, of course, has his own connection to the rivalry. ASU head coach Todd Graham was an assistant under Rodriguez at West Virginia. Graham moved on to Rice, Tulsa and then Pittsburgh before the Sun Devils him hired him to Tempe, Ariz., after last season.

Rodriguez is also in his first year after spending last season in the studio as an analyst.

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