Aug. 6, 2012
SAN DIEGO -
New Page 1
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
| COACH LONG
| OFFENSIVE PLAYERS
Head Coach Rocky
"It's always fun to get started. It's a big lead up all summer long when you're
waiting to get ready to go. We looked really good in the walk-through this
morning. Of course, it's kind of like the NFL walk-through, you can't touch each
other, you can't be in pads, you can't use a ball and you walk-through and act
like you're learning plays and learning defensive assignments and all that. So,
I'm waiting for tonight's practice to see (how the team looks)."
Q. Do you have any injured players who won't be on the
team this season?
We have got two. Paul
Pitts is not here in training camp because we have a limit in training camp
on 105 guys. Pitts hurt his knee in spring practice and probably won't be ready
to go for another six to eight weeks. So he's not out there and probably won't
play this year. I'm guessing he won't play this year. Kenny
Galea'i has a broken foot. He's probably got another two to three weeks
before he would be cleared to go 100% and so he's not out there, either. All of
the rest of them are out there. We had several surgeries after the end of last
season and we had a couple at the end of spring ball and they have all been
cleared to practice. You know, the first two days are just helmets. The next two
days are helmets and shoulder pads. And not until Friday do we get to go full
pads. So you won't really be able to tell until Friday whether all of those guys
are able to hold up when people start running into them full speed.
Q. How well settled is the depth chart?
You always start with the depth chart. That gives you, so when you go to
practice, you can say ones against ones against ones and twos against twos and
all that kind of stuff. You say that once get this there, but that can be
adjusted daily. That can be adjusted during a practice, which happens quite a
bit. In our program it happens quite a bit. A guy who is not going full speed or
who makes an assignment error, sometimes he will go from first team to second
team and sometimes it goes all the way down to the third team running with the
starters. Now with about ten days going before the first game, now the depth
chart is pretty solid and we have worked on our game plan and all that. So
there's not much chance that you would lose your spot. If you're a starter with
ten days to go, you're probably not going to lose your spot unless you play
really poorly in the first game.
Q. Are some positions still pretty much open for
That's true, they are open for competition. But you can go down the list just as
well as I can go down the list. If you have a player in a position that has had
a really good career up to this point and he's been a starter up to this point,
there's very little likelihood that he's going to lose his spot. I would say Leon
McFadden is going to start in the first game. You know, even though it's
open, it's open for competition. They are all open for competition. Gavin
Escobar, I would just guess he is going to start in the first game. You can
pick out the roster and you know which ones are the starters and which ones
aren't, even though they all think they are competing.
Q. One of those starters, Jake
Fely, can you talk about the year he had last year and what you're looking
from him this year?
Jake had a good year. Sometimes his size is a deterrent because he's not very
tall and he's not very big and he runs up against a lot of real tall 300 pound
guys that can knock him around, throw him around a little bit. He uses his
athletic ability and his quickness to overcome some of the size issues and then
he really diagnoses plays well. He sees what the play is a lot quicker than a
lot of linebackers do.
Q. Are you looking for the same thing on defense this
year as you did last year?
On defense, we play a lot of guys. Last year, we averaged 24 guys in a game on
defense and that's the same way we'll do it this year. I mean, Rob
Andrews got hurt, broke his foot last year and he's coming back and he was a
starting middle linebacker before he got hurt and Jake took over. So you've
basically got two starters at middle linebacker. That's a good problem to have.
Q. How do you feel about depth that you have?
I feel really good at the linebacker position. I feel really good in the
secondary. I don't know what to think of our defensive line. There's a whole
bunch of guys up there that we are counting on that have not played very much.
Now, they are kind of talented athletes but my opinion is the closer you get to
the line of scrimmage, the more mature and tougher you have to be. You can play
wide receiver and you can be a corner and you can be a freshman and be 16, 17
years old and weigh 155 pounds and get along just fine out there. If you're a
defensive tackle or center, guess what, you put a 165 pounder in there, an
immature kid is going to get beat up. We have a lot of young guys on the
defensive line, so we are worried about how they are going to hold up. We have
three new starters in the offensive line, even though those guys have played
quite a bit. The offensive line is not as critical as the defensive line. We
have to have some young guys step forward and play.
Q. Can you remember when you had as young a line as you
do now defensively, and how did that go?
I've been coaching so long, I'm sure it happened before. I don't necessarily
remember right now when it happened. I would guess it was fine. I don't know, we
are going to be pretty good. Those defensive linemen might not be very good the
first couple of games, but to survive, they have got to get better. By the third
or fourth game, those defensive linemen are going to be just fine and on defense
we'll be good. I'm more optimistic than some of the (prognosticators). I
wouldn't view our team the same way as they do, no way. We are all worried about
Hillman and Hillman was a great player. I'm not concerned. We are going to
get just as many yards and score just as many touchdowns, but it's going to be
three guys doing it instead of one. I don't know, I guess the fans won't like it
because it won't be quite as flashy, but the production is going to be the same.
And we lost a great quarterback. Ryan
Lindley might be considered the best quarterback ever played here. We've got
two quarterbacks now. I don't know if they are as good as Ryan, but last year I
was really worried Ryan might get hurt because I didn't know who the backup was
going to be. Now we have two guys that can play that are competing for the job.
Q. Do the prognosticators motivate you at all?
When I first started coaching about a hundred years ago, you used that as
motivation. I learned, 15-20 years ago, just ignore them. I really read those
magazines to look at depth charts of the other team. They have the most current
depth charts because coaches don't like to give that stuff out in the spring and
in the summer. So those magazines, they watch practice and tweet it to everybody
in the world so they have the closest thing to a real depth chart in the summer.
So then I can go and watch film and evaluate the players that they have on the
depth chart instead of wasting my time evaluating a guy that graduated and I
didn't know he graduated. So there are benefits to those magazines.
Q. How will your team be as those defensive linemen are
taking three games to get up to speed, considering your schedule?
It's more about the schedule than us. Washington has a really good team coming
back. In my opinion, they are in the top third of the Pac-12. They have, in my
opinion, one of the top five quarterbacks in the country. He's really good. If
you watched the bowl game between Washington and Baylor, you know what I'm
talking about. So we will know early in the season how good we can or will be,
because that will be a very tough opponent on us. It's in a pro stadium and I
heard that's really loud. They will get a big crowd. We are playing late at
night and we have got a whole bunch of things against us and we'll see where we
stand. Then we have to come back here and play Army, and it's Army's first game.
For those that know how this works, when you have three days to get ready for a
triple option team, you are at a huge disadvantage. I wish it was our first
game, and then we could spend two weeks getting ready for it and it would be
equal but they are going to spend their whole training camp getting ready for us
because we beat them last year. I think early in the season we'll see where
we're going to be. I think we'll hold up okay.
Q. Do you like the schedule?
When I first became a head coach, I worried about the schedule and where they
were sending us and all that kind of stuff. I have no control, so why worry
Q. What do you worry about then?
I worry about making our team as good as it can be. I worry about winning. We
don't play this game just to look good. Everything we do, you look back there on
the board, we had our first competition in our meeting today. The offense is
ahead 2-1. That's right up there. We compete every meeting, we compete every
practice, we compete walking in the door, because there's no reason to play
unless you want to win.
Q. How do you make players compete in a meeting?
Here is one of the questions today. So you pick out a guy on offense and you
pick out a guy on defense and this might be good for everybody in this room,
too. For a young man that's 18 to 22 years old, even though we teach him, he
does not know the legacy of this program very well. And there was a guy that
played here that was a pretty good player that I played with in Canada by the
name of Carl Weathers. So this will get all of you because you all know who I'm
talking about. So I asked the kids in the meeting if they knew who Carl Weathers
is or how Carl Weathers became famous after he stopped playing football. They
had no idea he was Apollo Creed, none whatsoever, except one kid knew who Apollo
Creed was. He was on offense. The offense is always smarter than defense,
Q. What's your situation at quarterback?
I have not made a decision. We are going to let Adam
Dingwell and Ryan
Katz compete for the first week of camp and we'll make a decision early on.
I mean, they competed all spring, too. We have seen the good and bad of both of
them. They have had good days and bad days, so we'll have a starter to he can
get most of the reps the last couple of weeks of camp before we can play our
Q. What do you like about Katz and what have you seen so
Basically, he's a very accurate passer. He's a really good athlete in the
pocket. He's not necessarily a runner, but he can be. He can get out of trouble
which gives you a little bit more time, especially if you think that you might
be a little bit inexperienced in the offensive line. He's been there. I don't
know when the last time he played in Washington was, but I bet you he already
played in Washington. He's been in a big stadium and he's been in a big game.
One of the better rivalries I've been around is the Oregon State-Oregon game,
and he's played in that game.So none of that will bother him. None of that will
Dingwell, either, to be honest with you, but Adam has not actually done it.
So you never know if it's going to bother him or not until they actually get
into that situation. It's not going to bother Ryan
Katz, because he's already been there. So I mean, that's his advantage.
Q. What is Dingwell's advantage?
Adam Dingwell is one of the toughest guys on our team. And that might not
mean anything to anybody else, but guess what, it means a whole bunch to me, and
it doesn't matter what position they play. He's a great competitor and he can
will his team to win, and he can will his team to score touchdowns. He's a good
athlete and he's not quite as accurate with the ball as Ryan
Katz is. He's just as good an athlete and probably a better runner. He gets
out of trouble and that's part of his problem, because he wants to make the play
himself. In practice, he gets mad when we blow the whistle when he takes off. He
wants to lower a shoulder and take those linebackers on. But a quarterback
that's a tough guy, guess what, you win a whole bunch of games with a tough
Q. Are there any true freshmen that you think could have
a chance to compete for the job?
I don't think so, but they surprise me all the time. The first ten days of camp
will give every freshman a chance to prove he's going to be in our two deep and
if they are going to be in the two deep, we give them the option of playing or
not. Because a lot of them want to redshirt, and we always try to convince them
to redshirt, even if they could play for us, we try to convince them to redshirt
because they are so much better players as fifth year seniors than they are as
freshmen. They are so much better. But if a freshman was going to be in our two
deep, we ask him if he wants to redshirt or if he wants to play. If he's not
going to be in the two-deep, he has no choice; he's going to redshirt.
Q. How's the special teams situation?
I did that on purpose. I don't know who our punter is and I don't know who our
kicker is. I don't know who our long snapper is, either. We have got two long
snappers out there and we have got two punters and we have got four kickers out
there that get to compete all during camp.That decision of who the punter is,
who the kicker is and who the deep snapper is won't be made until the first game
because you have to put them into situations where it's kind of live, where it's
kind of a scrimmage situation and the best guy gets to do it.
Q. How about the receivers, are you feeling more
Our receivers are the deepest position on our team. After last year, that's one
of the reasons its deep is because Colin
Lockett has turned into a really good player and Dylan
Denso is turning into a really good player. And those guys, the first time
they played was last year. Brice
Butler is a transfer that has great ability. Ezell
Ruffin has great ability and Jemond
Hazely has great ability. And these are our young guys. Larry
Clark has great ability. They all have real talent. But we have got
experienced guys. We have got three guys that have played a lot of football. Dominique
Sandifer, who we thought was going to be starting wide receiver last year
but injury kept him from doing it, he's healthy again. We thought he would be
our best receiver last year, so that's a complete turn around. Last year we were
trying to figure out guys to be receivers, and this year we have all kinds of
Q. Any thoughts on Ryan
Ryan is going to make it. I don't know how long it will take, but he will
eventually be a starting quarterback in the NFL which is a pretty good gig.
Q. How has the off season workout program been with Adam
We came back stronger and faster than we've ever been. (Adam
Hall) brought back some of the old things that Coach Hoke left with, but
it's helped us in the offseason both in the film room and on the field.
Everything he does with us is all explosiveness and we are going to be good this
Q. How do the opinions of the prognosticators affect the
There are always going to be opinions from everybody else
that we are going to be the underdog, because we are San Diego State and we are
supposed to be underdogs. Personally, this year we are going to go out with a
bang and everybody is just going to feel for us to do better on the field. Just
because people were thinking that we are lower than nine out of ten of the
conference teams. We are above that and that's going to influence us and
motivate us to do better on the field and also in the film room so we can get
smarter. So I feel like we are better than what people are thinking.
Q. What are your thoughts on Coach Long saying that you
guys are one of the strongest positions on the team?
We do definitely have a lot of depth on our linebacker
corps. Our main focus is our new linebacker coach, so he's going to help us get
better and take the leadership that Miles
Burris left. Since Miles left he has been a big part of our linebacker core
and he was a good leader. So having a new coach and having Rocky
Long in there is going to help influence us to get better and to help the
team and help our defense.
Q. As the top returning tackler on this team, do you
feel like you have bigger responsibilities in terms of leadership or what does
It just adds more pressure to perform. But you know, the
great ones rise to the challenge of being able to be leading tackler, again, and
again. So I'm not too worried about it. Just see it as a stat and that's about
Q. How much more comfortable are you guys with Rocky's
defense and how much of a factor do you think that will be this year playing
This 3-3-5 defense is a hard defense to learn. It takes
about two to three years to actually understand the scheme and understand where
everybody goes. So we should go into this year knowing this defense better than
we did this past year. It's a defense where all 11 heads are on the ball and you
really have to pay attention to your position and knowing what your assignment
Q. What makes the defense so hard to learn?
Playing with an extra defensive back on the field, he needs
to know where he needs to go at all times. The Aztec position is a hybrid
linebacker/saftey so he has to be able to cover somebody in the slot and that
takes a lot of skill.
Q. Is this the year you and the others from Oceanside
take a step forward as an Aztec?
Everyone is going to think that we all came from a school
where we were, but it's all about San Diego State now. We're all about trying to
win here and having a winning record all the time. That's what I want to bring
here. Even though we are from Oceanside, people are all going to think we're
Oceanside, I'm San Diego State now and that's where I want to be from.
Q. Coach talked about obviously the defensive line is a
little bit young; is there some sense of wanting to pick those guys up, and how
will you do that from a leadership standpoint?
The young guys know and Coach Long harps on it every day,
it's all about competing, nobody has a set spot. All of the young guys that are
filling in, Sam
Meredith and Dontrell
Onuoha, all of those guys are competing for that No. 1 spot. That's all it
comes down to and at the end of the fall, we'll know who will be our starting
Q. Colin, obviously you were on the other side of the
ball at one time; from your perspective, having played in the Mountain West, how
far has Leon come?
I remember when we were getting recruited Leon was on my
recruiting trip and me and him bonded really well, got on very nice our first
year. I think we were weight lifting partners. Leon has come a long way. He has
come a long way as everybody else. Leon has been starting basically since his
freshman year and I feel like he's the most complete out of all of the corners
that I've seen. He has it all. He has the competitive aspect, the speed, he
jumps high. You guys interview him and he's great at that, too. Leon has come
really far, and he's definitely going to make an impact now and even at the next
Q. How do you look at this wide receiver group now
compared to last year?
I see across the board, you know, five, six receivers that
can all make an impact this year. We have got tall guys. We have got short,
shifty guys. We have got fast guys. We have got, you know, guys that you can
stretch and guys that you can block. It's a total, complete whole as a wide
receiver group; you have the tall, the short and I feel like that's going to be
the most important thing that we have depth. We didn't have as much depth last
year and we didn't have the experience at all last year. Denso had four plays or
five catches or something like that, and so now we have got the experience with
me and Denso, and even Osmond
Nicholas and Dominique (Sandifer) coming back from the injury and he was the
third receiver with Vincent (Jackson) and DeMarco (Sampson). So we have got the
experience like I said, and we have got all the tools to be one of the best wide
receiving corps in the nation.
Q. Has Ryan
Katz already shown that he is an experienced guy?
It's something you feel. It's kind of an aura that you just
feel he has confidence and experience, something that comes when you're a senior
and you have some experience at the position. So you definitely feel that.
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