Arizona interim coach Tim Kish understands he needs to find solutions to… (J&L Photography )
Tim Kish was in Los Angeles recruiting in his role as Arizona's defensive coordinator when school officials contacted him about taking over as interim head coach after Mike Stoops was fired Monday.
Kish immediately headed back to Tucson, arriving about midnight. On the way, he said he thought about Stoops, their 7 1/2 seasons together, and started jotting down notes.
Even back home, he didn't sleep much.
"There were a lot of things running through my mind," Kish said Tuesday during the weekly Pacific 12 Conference football coaches' conference call. "Thank God, it's not that big that I don't have to worry about it."
He does have plenty to worry about, though. Arizona is 1-5 overall and 0-4 in Pac-12 play, but at least he has a little time to make adjustments. The Wildcats are off this weekend before facing UCLA on Oct. 20.
"We've got to make determinations as to where the problems may lie and where the solutions might be," Kish said.
One obvious problem is the defense. The Wildcats give up an average of 487.7 yards a game, ranking 115th out of 120 major-college teams.
Kish said he realizes some players may feel comfortable with his changes, and some may not. He declined to discuss specifics, but he said he wants to instill a "a little bit of fun" into the program.
"We've got some issues and it's across the board and it's going to take all 120 of us, coaches and players alike, to get some things fixed," Kish said.
Oregon running back LaMichael James suffered a dislocated right elbow against California last Thursday night, and it's not clear how long he might be sidelined.
Per his policy, Oregon Coach Chip Kelly doesn't give specifics about his players' injuries or when they might return.
But if James isn't able to play Saturday in the No. 9 Ducks' showdown against No. 18 Arizona State, Kelly said backups Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Tra Carson would fill in and the scheme on offense wouldn't change.
Kelly said Barner is similar to James in almost every way. "I've always felt like it was 1 and 1A," Kelly said.
Arizona State Coach Dennis Erickson said it doesn't matter too much if James doesn't play. "They've got speed to burn and speed to back up," he said.
Up and at 'em
Utah is facing a couple of challenges in its game at Pittsburgh on Saturday: Panthers running back Ray Graham, the nation's second-leading rusher with an average of 149.8 yards a game, and 10 a.m. MDT kickoff.
"We're practicing at that time, and that's probably the most important thing we're doing," Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We're on fall break right now so we have the luxury of practicing whenever we want."