Dec. 16, 2013
SAN DIEGO -
Head Coach Rocky Long
"Well I think the team is pretty excited about leaving (Tuesday) morning to go to Boise. We've had three pretty good practices after studying Buffalo on film for quite a while now. They're an awfully good football team. They do a lot of things really well. It's interesting that we mirror each other a lot. The offensive schemes are very similar, the defensive schemes are very similar, the special teams schemes are very similar and if I'm judging things right, the talent level is very, very close. So it ought to be an awfully good game and it ought to be close and tight. Hopefully we can get into another overtime game and set an NCAA record (for most overtime games played), and as long as we win in overtime, that would be good."
On if they have an advantage since they've already played on Boise State's blue turf:
"I don't know if it (helps) or not. I used to think that the blue turf was a huge advantage for the home team. Then two years ago we practiced at West Hills High School, which has blue turf, and I asked the players after the practice if they thought it made any difference whatsoever, and the players said no. We went out and played well on it (at Boise State), so I guess it doesn't make a difference."
On if he thinks the blue turf is attractive:
"Well, I'm a traditionalist. I think the field should be green, even though I think the (artificial) turf now is better than some grass fields. The way the turf has been developed - I think it's safer, I think it's softer. It has to be a pretty good grass field to match what the turf is now."
On if being the underdog is a lack of respect to SDSU or the Mountain West:
"Not whatsoever, because I looked at the line this morning too and it was one point. How can you take any offense, I think (Las Vegas) thinks it's pretty close too. Now if it was 14 points or something like that, you might start wondering."
On if Buffalo is more similar to them than any other team they've played this season:
"Yes. I actually think it gives the offenses on both sides an advantage. It gives offensive coordinators a chance to scheme, and they know what works because they've done it in practice and spring ball and fall camp. I think the two teams started out slow and poorly, then played very competitive football in the middle of the season. (Buffalo) won eight out of 10 (games), we won seven out of nine. They could have won one of their other games, we could have won two of our other games. I think the teams almost have the same mentality. Our players would probably get along really good until game time."
On the defensive line as the season has progressed:
"(Buffalo) is gigantic upfront on offense, but it's not like it's the first big offensive line we've played against. The biggest offensive line we've played against is Oregon State, and we seemed to do OK against them. We're a little undersized on the defensive line, but not enough where it should make a difference. It's about execution."
On if anyone will be unable to play due to injury:
"He's been out for a long time, but (defensive back) Gabe Lemon is not going to be able to play. Everybody should be able to play. Now, we have (offensive lineman) Zach Dilley doing limited reps, (offensive lineman) Bryce Quigley is doing limited reps. We did get a guy back those - (linebacker) Scott Graves - who didn't play all year long because of an elbow injury, but he's going to play, and he was our best special teams player last year by far. And he's a senior, so it's really neat that he gets to play. But our special teams will be better just because he's out there, I can promise you that. When we practiced the other day, (Graves) was really good, but I think that's because he's a lot fresher than the rest of (the players)."
On what he knows about Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn:
"Very little, but I know a couple guys on his staff pretty well. Alex Wood, the offensive coordinator, I know him pretty well. (Defensive coordinator) Lou Tepper, I know him pretty well. I've never met coach Quinn, but one of his all-conference offensive linemen (Chris Jurek) happens to be our assistant strength coach."
On team award winners Kene Anigbogu and Kalan Montgomery:
"(Anigbogu) is a big, strong wide receiver and he's gotten better as the year went along. He's given us some good looks because we've played against some big, strong, tall wide receivers. And he's developed. He's got a chance to be a good player. He's got to catch the ball more consistently, but he throws us around and pushes us around because we're not very big at cornerback, and when we play against big receivers, that happens a lot. So he's done a really nice job, that's why he won that award. We think we've recruited pretty well. The only thing holding us back is a little bit of experience, but most of those guys are going to get a chance to be players next year."
On what impact the bowl game will have on the program beyond this season:
"No. 1, if he hadn't been chosen for a bowl game, and we deserved to be, I think the players would come back with a completely different attitude as we get into the second semester of school. When you have a pretty good year and you're not rewarded for it like you should be, the (team's) attitude suffers a little bit. They don't come back with the same energy, the same enthusiasm, and it takes you a while to get them back. When you get picked and get to go to a bowl game, their attitude when they come back is they're fresh, they're happy and excited about trying to make the team better for the next year. Especially the young guys, because now they get a chance to play since all the old seniors are gone. The other reality is we've had four practices where one-third of the practice has been all about development of younger players. So they got four more practices than the teams that don't (go to a bowl game). So we benefit a little bit, but with an early bowl game, we don't benefit as much as some other (teams). But we sure do benefit more than if we weren't going."
On what impact the bowl game will have on the San Diego community:
"I don't know, I think it has a lot to do with how it's perceived by the media. I really do. People nowadays get spoiled very quickly. When I got here five years ago, we had a season that was 4-8, and everybody acted like that was the best thing that has ever happened and the best turnaround ever. They would say, `The kids played hard and we have a chance to be a good team.' Now five years later, we have a bowl team. It's four-straight years in a bowl game, and the media should present it as we're one of 29 teams in the country that have been to four-straight bowl games. There's only 29, and we're one of them! There's only five non-BCS schools that have done that, and we're one of them! Now you can get spoiled and act like it's no big deal we're going to a bowl game, but it's all how it's presented by the media. Because guess what? It's a big deal. It shows the program is solid, it has kids that play hard and play you until the end. We've won three out of four overtime games. I mean, that should be celebrated. If the media presents it like that, it would do a lot to make this program better. If (the media) presents it another way, it's going to hurt this program. The kids we're recruiting hear it all. It's how the media presents it that develops the attitude of the public."
On if he thinks there's a lot at stake in the bowl game:
"I don't think it has anything to do with winning or losing. If we win, it will chalked up as we're supposed to (win). If we lose, it might be presented as the worst thing to ever happen."
Senior defensive lineman Jordan Thomas
On how big of a personal accomplishment is it for him to graduate in three and a half years:
"I just remember my high school coach saying, `Nobody makes a big deal about graduating from high school, you've got to graduate from college.' I think about that, and yeah, it's great to finally be done with school."
On how much Buffalo mirrors San Diego State offensively, and if that helps them defensively:
"Yes, because you get the same tendencies every day in practice. You know they like to run the ball to set up the play-action pass. They have a very big and physical offensive line, like our offensive line. So it's good to see that every day at practice."
On what ways Buffalo's offense is different than SDSU's offense:
"They run a lot more zone (blocking) than we do. We're more of a power team I'd say. That's really the biggest difference."
On how he evaluates this season as a team:
"It was a solid season. Obviously, it didn't end the way we'd like it to, by going to the (MW) championship game. That's what you set out to do every year. But we started 0-3 and battled back to a winning record and got to a bowl game. Overall, even though we didn't go to the championship game, it's still a very successful season."
On if the expectations now are much higher than they were when he was a freshman:
"Definitely. I'm part of a class that has gone to a bowl game every year since I've been here. So I feel like it's expected around here. I was just thinking about it, we talked about bowl games during (fall) camp, before the season has started. I feel it's something that's automatic around here. We expect to play in the postseason, coach (Long) talks about it all the time. We work for an extra game every year."
On what he feels is the next step for the program:
"To be ranked. That's the biggest thing. We haven't done that yet. We've beaten ranked teams, we've won a conference championship, now the goal is to finish the season undefeated and ranked. Be BCS-busters."
On playing a bowl game in Boise and everything that leads up to it:
"It's always exciting to go to a bowl game, so I could really care less where we play our bowl game. We could play in Iceland or something, and I would still enjoy the experience. It's just going to a different place, playing football for an extra game."
On what people in San Diego should think about the team this season:
"Just that we we're a team that never quit this season. Despite starting slow and maybe dropping some games that we shouldn't have, I just want everybody in the city to know we're a team that doesn't quit. The only way we can solidify that thought into people's minds going into the offseason is if we win."
On Sunday's team awards ceremony:
"It was kind of emotional. I remember freshman year and sophomore year, now I'm a senior sitting in the front of the room. It was a different kind of experience and a little bit emotional for me."
On if there's extra motivation to win this bowl game after losing the previous two bowl games:
"I would say the biggest chip on our shoulder is how bad we played at UNLV. I believe it was a bunch of imposters on the field that night. That's the main thing that bugs me, is possibly ending my season with a game like that. That's what really bugs me going into this week, so I really want to play the bowl game. I want to end this with a win just so everyone knows how the true Aztecs play."
Senior Offensive lineman Bryce Quigley
On how excited he is about the bowl game and all the festivities surrounding it:
"I'm really excited. The bowl game is like the reward at the end of the year. So just to be rewarded for all your efforts throughout the year and spend one last time with your teammates, especially for us seniors, I'm excited about it."
On if they have the advantage from already playing on Boise State's blue turf:
"From my experience, I didn't notice the blue turf. For me, there's no difference. I'm not sure if that's how Buffalo is going to see it, but it's no difference to me."
On if winning overtime games has become this team's identity:
"Yeah, I think so. I think we have a perception of never giving up and I think that's a good perception to have. We may go through some adversity during the game, but we stick together as a band of brothers and finish the game."
On recovering from his injury:
"I'm taking limited reps, but I'll be 100 percent by game time. I just got stepped on, and (the injury) is kind of lingering around."
On Sunday's team awards ceremony:
"You're sitting out in a big crowd of people when you're an underclassmen looking up at the seniors, thinking when will your time come. And it comes fast. We're sitting up there next to each other looking out at everyone else. It was an honor to be at the banquet and be able to celebrate that with all the seniors."