Mountain West Football Media Day Podium Session Quotes

July 24, 2012

LAS VEGAS -

Head coach Rocky Long

Opening Statement:

"First off, I'm the only coach that is here now that was here for the very first year of the Mountain West. So I've seen it from the beginning until now and things have gotten better. The addition of the three new teams has added to the competitiveness of the league. If you look at the way the teams are ranked in the (preseason) poll, the number of votes between the teams shows you how close all the teams are together in talent. This is a competitive league that can play with anyone in the country. I don't think, maybe because of population, we get the national exposure that we deserve. The league as a whole this year is so competitive that the games will be close, they'll be fun to watch, they'll be good for fans and it'll be exciting for the players. I normally bring good players here that are team guys and leaders on our football team. I've done that this year too."

"Leon McFadden is as good a cornerback as there is in the league, maybe as there is in the country and will be an NFL star the year after this."

"Gavin Escobar is a great receiver who everyone has matchup problems with."

On the different feel of the Mountain West this season:

"We have five new coaches and three new teams, so obviously it's a different look. What you've added is some real variety on offense and then some expert coaches on defense. Maybe even a little variety on defense that hasn't been in this league before. It'll be really interesting because I think talent-wise what you see when you pick all-conference teams and there's not any returners, is everyone is fairly young and fairly new. So the competitiveness increases and then also the team which gets the momentum is going to have the best chance to win it all."

On whether he feels the conference this year is wide-open race:

"I'm an honest guy, Boise State is the best team in the league. It's going to be tough for the rest of us to catch up and maybe beat them, but they're not unbeatable. Now you take all the rest of us, put us all in a hat and flip it up and the first one to hit the ground is the winner, that's the way I see the rest of us."

On how Leon McFadden fits in his defense and where he ranks with past players he has coached:

"In our defensive scheme, our corners basically have one assignment about 90 percent of the time and that's man-to-man. Very seldom do they have help, so it's most important for them to be able to cover a guy without any help and allowing the rest of the nine to do what we want to do with them. He's as good as any corner we've had running this defense and there's a couple of them playing in the NFL right now." What Leon said is important, Leon is an awful good player now, but he's not as good as he can be."

On Ryan Katz and Adam Dingwell:

"Ryan Lindley was truly a pocket guy, both Adam Dingwell and Ryan Katz are better athletes. They might not throw the ball as hard or as long, but they're much better. They use their feet and their legs to get out of trouble. They can run option plays, they can scramble, make big plays in the scrambling game and they can throw on the run. They're not nearly as big as Ryan Lindley was, but they're better athletes in the pocket. So there is more you can do with them. Both of them are about the same so it doesn't change the schemes you run on offense."

Senior Cornerback Leon McFadden

On the progression of Colin Lockett:

"Colin Lockett is a great athlete and going to receiver was a good move for him for the simple fact that he's a fast guy. His route running has gotten better and going at it with him in one-on-one's has helped my technique and my ability to key in on what I need to do to be a shutdown corner."

On whether coach Long's praise helps him set the bar higher:

"It most definitely sets the bar higher. Coach Long harps on being competitive and being hungry and that's one thing that I'm going to do. It's good to be acknowledged by my coach, especially by coach Long. He's hard on us and he sets the bar high for us to meet high expectations."

Junior Tight End Gavin Escobar

On what to expect out of this year's offense:

"You can't replace guys like Ryan (Lindley) and Ronnie (Hillman), they don't come by very often. We do have a lot of young guys with a lot of experience. Walter Kazee and Adam Muema replacing Ronnie at running back. They have a lot of experience and they really run hard. At the quarterback position, we have Ryan Katz coming in from Oregon State. He has a lot of experience, as well as Adam Dingwell who has been in the system for about three years. He knows the offense really well."

On the new strength coach Adam Hall:

"Adam Hall has been great. He was underneath our previous strength coach in Aaron Wellman, and he learned a lot from him. It's kind of the same mentality that we've had in the past with toughness and finishing everything we do. Our workouts are really high-tempo and they are getting us in shape for this year."