Sept. 25, 2012
SAN DIEGO --
Press conference with:
Q. Opening Statement:
Rocky Long: Sounds like a broken record, but once again we got an in state team that there's a rivalry involved. I think it's a pretty good rivalry between Fresno State and San Diego State that's been going on for a long time. Last year it was renewed and it was a great game. They jumped out on us early and we were able to come out late in the game and win it. I expect more of the same. They're a good football team, (they) got an NFL quarterback, (they are) explosive on offense (and they) score a lot of points. Now on defense, they are a little bit different than most. They run kind of an unusual defense and do a lot of zone blitzing. So it's going to be important for us to be able to know where the blitzers are coming from and where the holes are in the zones when they blitz people.
Q. Is the Oil Can placed prominently this week?
Rocky Long: Its right in that room right next door if you want to see what it looks like.
Q. Obviously you want to win, but is there more to the game because there is a rivalry?
Rocky Long: I think there's an established rivalry between the two schools now. They used to play every year, home and home, and it got to be a big time rivalry. Then there were several years that the two teams didn't play against each other and it was started up again last year. Obviously we are playing this year, and then after this year, I don't know if we'll play Fresno again. And I'm not sure Fresno knows if they will play us again. It's the history of a rivalry, but I don't know if just playing back to back games has rekindled that rivalry or not. You have to kind of play each other over and over again.
Q. They have several local kids here, Robbie Rouse; he's a tough guy to see behind the line.
Rocky Long: Yeah, he's a good player. I remember when I was an assistant coach, the first year that Brady Hoke was here, we tried to recruit him and he chose to go to Fresno State. He's a very good player.
Q. You called Derek Carr an NFL quarterback. Is he?
Rocky Long: For sure he is. I don't know exactly where he'll be drafted but I'm guessing he's in the top three rounds.
Q. What does he do so well and what are the biggest challenges?
Rocky Long: He does everything well. He's a good athlete that has a tremendous arm and throws the ball accurately. I wish we would play someone that doesn't throw it accurately, but everybody we play seems to complete 70 percent of their passes, and we don't do anything to change their stats, either. He's a big guy that's got a strong arm. He's a good athlete. He's not a big time scrambler, but he can certainly get out of trouble and buy time with his feet, which he does all the time. The new offense really lends itself for him to have a great year. In the past, they have been a pro style offense but now they are completely spread. Reminds me a lot of Oregon's offense, so they are the Oregon of the Mountain West Conference.
Q. How different is it to prepare for spread offense?
Rocky Long: Yeah, you can't even look at last year's film. The only reason you would look at last year's film is to see the talent level of the guys coming back, to see their skill set. The two offenses aren't even close. You don't use anything from last year to prepare for this game.
Q. On zone blitzing:
Rocky Long: I said we had to look at the possibility of zone blitzing. I didn't say we were going to do it a lot.
Q. Seamus, is he back in this week?
Rocky Long: As of now, he's back on the team.
Q. And will he see action this week?
Rocky Long: That's yet to be determined.
Q. Since you're not subject to NFL fines, can you speak to what happened last night with the referees? Your thoughts as a coach, as somebody who prepares your team all week, and then literally it's taken out of your hands?
Rocky Long: I was pretty busy last night, so I didn't watch the game. All I've heard is what I heard on the radio driving in today, so I don't need to comment on something I just heard on the radio.
Q. Are you looking at this as kind of a fresh start to the season?
Rocky Long: No, I look at every game the same. Every game is a new challenge. Each week is a new challenge. I'm trying to convince our players of this, I don't think you ever put more importance on one game than the other. I think they are all important. Every single game is just as important as the last. And so this is the most important game of the season. Then next week, that will be the most important game of the season. No matter what happens this week.
Q. And how do you feel like the non conference schedule prepares you for conference play?
Rocky Long: We've seen a variety of things. We've seen some triple option. We've seen a lot of spread. We've seen some people try to run the ball at us. So it's been well rounded, and you would think that would help you going into conference play. I have some concerns on defense, because one week we didn't play the spread worth a darn and the next week we played it really good for three quarters and then kind of fell apart in the fourth quarter. This week we play a spread team. So I have some concerns about that. I also had some concerns about us being able to run the ball last week and we did a nice job of running the ball. So that's on the positive side.
Q. So does your team have an identity yet? How would you describe your team?
Rocky Long: We are a balanced football team, and that's what we want to be. We want to be able to run the ball and use that, to use play action pass. I think we are a pretty balanced football team right now. I don't know, I don't keep track of stats, because the only stat that matters is whether you win or lose.
Q. Special teams wise, how do you guys try and move forward from the last game? What are some of the things you're working on?
Rocky Long: We haven't started working on it yet because today is the first day of practice. We do two segments of the kicking game every other day in practice. So we kick field goals and PATs every day and then we work on either punt team or punt return and kickoff/kickoff return. So obviously we are trying to get better. We haven't made wholesale changes personnel-wise. We have made a couple changes personnel wise because of the way some of them played in the game. Maybe some guys can play a little bit better than that, but it's more about executing better. Both those kickoff returns, there was two guys that could have made the tackle. They didn't. Now that gets to be a problem during the year, because in practice, you don't really want to go full speed. You don't want people tackling people in practice, because there's always a chance of an injury. So you don't do it much in practice. They just have to get better at it by doing it in the game.
Q. How is the hand?
Alec Johnson: It's good, getting better. A couple weeks out, so looking forward to that, cutting off the cast for good, that will be nice.
Q. When do you think the cast will come off?
Alec Johnson: They said three or four weeks when it first happened, so a little over a week.
Q. Did you have any trouble snapping last week?
Alec Johnson: There was one that was bad, but other than that, no.
Q. What was the last one?
Alec Johnson: Yeah, in the red zone. I don't know, just a bad snap.
Q. What about the blocking? Did you have trouble blocking?
Alec Johnson: Not too bad. They changed up the cast for the game so it was a lot easier. The one I had in the game, so it wasn't too bad. They just clubbed it up differently. So it was easier to punch with, which made it nice.
Q. How was it to block? Basically they showed it on TV; you do have a club on your hand.
Alec Johnson: It's different. Finishing blocks is a little harder, because if they want to turn and run, you can't stop them. There's nothing to grab with. So it's a little bit different, but you get used to it.
Q. What do you guys see out of the defense this week? Coach was saying that they play different, it's pretty unique. They use a lot of zone blitzes. What do you see watching the tape?
Ryan Katz: Yeah, there are a lot of zone blitzes, field blitz (and) boundary blitz. They like to bring pressure. We play against a unique defense every day in practice, so it will be a lot easier for us to kind of pick up their pressure and for me and the linemen to see that. So after watching more film, we'll have a better beat on them.
Q. On the zone blitz:
Ryan Katz: They do a lot there. The way their coverage rotates, it's a little different than what we have seen. So like I said it just comes through preparation (and) watching film. So once we watch some more film this week, we'll have a pretty good beat on it.
Q. I know they tried to create the rivalry last year, do you feel that this week?
Alec Johnson: A little bit. Yeah, we have not played them in a while, so we're trying to renew that rivalry. They are a good team and it's a tough place to play. So it should be a good game.
Q. Does it put a damper on the rivalry that the game is so early in the season rather than being the last game of the year?
Alec Johnson: No, that doesn't affect it. (They are) still a good team, still a good game, tough place to play. Timing of the game doesn't really matter.
Q. Chad, how much confidence do you guys have in your running game right now?
Chad Young: It's something we've developed. I have a lot of confidence in the O line. They paint a good picture up front and we have great running backs, too, that run hard even if the picture is not that clean. (We are) pretty confident in our running game. That's something we have to keep developing (and) working on, because we have to run the ball every week.
Q. How proud are you of what you did last week?
Chad Young: Pride isn't such a word I would use to describe as something that we need to do. We have to do that in and out every week, so that will open things up for Katz and all the receivers. It's something our whole line has done a good job on. They do the picture and I pretty much pick up one extra guy and the running back is off.
Q. Did San Jose State do anything different to keep you in the pocket and keep you from scrambling the other night? Seemed like you wanted to scramble and you just couldn't find your way out there a few times.
Ryan Katz: They weren't doing too much stuff different. It was a four man rush. They didn't bring too much blitz. They just had some athletic D linemen that did a good job of that. But I wouldn't say they did anything different.
Q. At the start of the conference, it's almost kind of a reset; you have these other games under your belt now. What are your thoughts going into the conference, any expectations?
Ryan Katz: It's great. What we set out to accomplish was win a Mountain West championship and that's still alive. We have to take care of business each and every week. Now we are in conference play and just take it a game at a time. We have some good practice under our belt and just have to learn from our mistakes and try to not make those mistakes each week and just learn from it and get better.
Q. After watching and reviewing your game film from last week, can you talk about how the last two possessions really hurt you?
Josh Wade: They were able to make some plays. They didn't change too many things. We just weren't in the right positions to be able to capitalize on some of the balls that were in the air. They were able to score at the end of the game. Leon McFadden: We definitely didn't play with the intensity as we did in the first three quarters and that was the big thing. We really harp on finishing around here and we were really disappointed that we didn't finish how we wanted to.
Q. Rocky said that he put you guys in a position where you weren't able to succeed. Do you take it to heart when he says something like that?
Josh Wade: Yeah, we want to be able to make plays. He called a play that he thought was best and as players, we have to be able to capitalize on opportunities and make plays in the passing game.
Q. Was is simply intensity that was the difference in the first three quarters to the fourth quarter?
Leon McFadden: That, and as well as paying attention to our assignments. Some guys, we watch the film and we didn't execute our assignments as we did in those previous quarters.
Q. So what kind of problem does Fresno State present? Obviously they are a totally different offense than what you faced last year.
Leon McFadden: They definitely run the spread a lot and that's something we're looking forward to playing this week. They are a good team. We have respect for those guys. It's a rival game and we are really looking forward to it. They have a great quarterback and great receiving corps (with) a couple returners coming back. So it will be a good game.
Q. When you look at the changes in personnel, how much of that is just the young guys up front learning and do you feel like the defensive backs are playing at a similar level to last year or is there a difference there?
Josh Wade: It's kind of hard to tell. It's a different team, but a lot of the guys, I feel like the defensive backs, we are playing good, but we are not playing good enough to get it done. As far as the young guys on the line, they are getting pressure at times, and we just have got to be able to complement each other better. Like when they don't get enough pressure, we have to cover better. And when we don't cover well, we have to depend on those guys to get to the quarterback and force him to throw a bad ball. So a lot of little technical things, but we'll get the hang of it.
Q. So a little bit of both?
Josh Wade: Yeah, at times, we have to depend on each other and like I said, complement each other in certain situations when we need them and when they need us.
Q. On Robbie Rouse:
Josh Wade: Yeah, he's up there breaking records. He's a strong runner. He's a quick guy. I got to see him a little bit in high school and he's very athletic. It's going to be a challenge stopping the run and the way they spread the ball out, having guys covered at the same time. It's going to be a challenge and we have to make sure we correct those technical issues and we play really aggressive.
Q. Do you guys like playing against a spread team as DBs, as opposed to playing a power running kind of thing? Obviously you're going to get a little more action.
Leon McFadden: Definitely, we look forward to playing against a spread team. DBs, they really love when they are able to have opportunities to make plays.
Q. Fresno State can beat you through the air or on the ground. Is it more important to contain their running game or their passing game?
Josh Wade: You definitely want to stop the run because if they get a running game going, it's going to open up a lot of things as far as play-action stuff. We definitely want to stop the run. And then when we have opportunities to make plays in the passing games, hopefully we can force some turnovers. But we definitely have to stop the run.
Q. Can you speak to the rivalry? I know you talked about it, do you feel the rivalry?
Leon McFadden: Definitely feel like it's a rivalry game. In the past San Diego State and Fresno State have been playing against each other as rivals and just started back the tradition last year. This year we are looking forward to it. We don't know if the program will play them next year, so we are taking this game as a rival and going out there to have fun.
Q. Coach said you might look into mixing things up, how does more zone blitzing change the responsibilities of the DBs?
Josh Wade: It makes it possible for us to jump different routes. When you pass off guys in zone coverage, it's a little easier in the sense of, even though you've got help in certain areas, you can attack different parts of the field a little bit more. Playing the zone with blitzes, there's going to be gaps, but it gives you opportunities where you're not as high of a risk of getting beat deep and you have opportunity to play your leverage and kind of have an advantage in certain areas of route combinations and things.
Q. Is starting conference is a little more important than the rivalry, because obviously you want to win the conference.
Josh Wade: Definitely, that's our goal is to be champions of the Mountain West Conference and this is our first opportunity to go out and fulfill a piece of that goal. This is a huge game for us, a rivalry game, and I'm glad we get to go out and start our conference off against Fresno, a rival game like this.
Q. After playing two kind of explosive aerial attacks the last two weeks, do you feel extra prepared for Fresno State?
Leon McFadden: Yeah, playing those two last opponents that we played, it's definitely going to help us going into this game. Being the fact that they are a spread offense and they have a great quarterback there and he likes to throw the ball. So they have prepared us for this game.
Q. Coach Long called Derek Carr an NFL quarterback. Do you see that?
Leon McFadden: Yes, (I) most definitely do.
Q. What does he do so well?
Leon McFadden: Just reading defenses and picking the weak links within a defense. His arm is accurate. He has a strong arm and just him thinking as a quarterback. You have to be able to think at all positions what coverage, what shell is that, and he does that real well.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...