SDSU Football News Conference Quotes

Aug. 21, 2012

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SAN DIEGO --

Head Coach Rocky Long

Opening statement:
We're right in the middle of two-a-days. This sounds like every coach in America, we have a long way to go. We have a few injuries, some guys that have to get well. I do believe this team makes progress every day. So some time during the season, we're going to be a good football team. I'm hoping it's right off the bat. If I was guessing right now, I would say it's not right off the bat. It will be partway through the season that we'll be a pretty good football team. We've still got a week and a half to practice, so maybe we'll make gigantic steps in the next week and a half and we'll be a good football team right from the start, because we're not right now.

Q. Does the team not being up to your standards alarm you with your toughest opponent coming up in about 10 days?
I don't know if that's going to be our toughest game, but they are a good football team. That's not alarming at all. I've been doing this forever. This is normal. It's not alarming, it's normal. The only time you have confidence that you're going to have a good football team right from the start is when you have about 30 seniors on your team. We don't have very many seniors and only about six of them are starting.

Q. So is this the status quo that you feel every season with ten days to go or are there greater concerns in what you are seeing in particular?
Last year we had a lot more mature football team than we do this year. I don't know exactly, (but) I think we had 23 seniors and at least 13 or 14 of the seniors were starting. So we were a lot more mature football team last year than we are at this time, this year. Most of it is experience and age, and just like everything else, and the younger the team is, they make progress, they continually make progress, but they are not ready for `show time' until they get in the show. They have to be beat around a little bit for two or three weeks and then guess what: they are veterans. And when they become veterans, they play better and they start playing at the level of the competition.

Q. How much more of a burden does that put on your older guys and how have they accepted that responsibility?
Well, our team has totally developed with senior leadership. Obviously when you don't have as many and not as many starting, it's tougher on them because our expectation level is so high. We expect to be a good football team. We have been a pretty good football team for two years and right now we are a young and kind of immature football team. We have to mature and the only mature guys we have are the seniors. So they have to lead by example. It's not the day and age where they yell and scream and give pep talks and all that stuff. It's more by example and how hard they work.

Q. When you look at the film from the last few days, what are biggest areas of concerns?
They haven't changed from day one. The D Line is the biggest concern and then probably the offensive line is the next biggest concern. So when you have a concern at the line of scrimmage that makes you a little nervous because we have really good skill. Our quarterbacks are fine, we have good running backs in the program and we have good receivers in the program. We have good linebackers and a secondary that has experience. We have some talented guys up front. Don't get me wrong, we have some talented defensive linemen and we have some talented offensive linemen, but that's where our immaturity is. We lost three starters on the offensive line and we're going to play a whole bunch of redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the defensive line. And the only way for them to get better is to go up against the good teams and play hard and learn, and pretty soon, they will be good, too. Now, we are a whole lot better now than we were two weeks ago. Last night's practice was the best practice of the fall. We were physical on both sides of the ball and the offensive and defensive linemen kind of beat up on each other and it looked like a real college football team. Up until last night, we have not looked like a real college football team.

Q. How do you think the offensive line is shaping up?
I don't know when I said this, but it happened in the scrimmage that we had on Saturday. If we play a team that's conservative on defense, and there are a lot of teams that are conservative on defense, our offensive line will be fine. Because they are talented enough and we are big enough and strong enough that we'll hold our own. I don't know if we'll dominate but we'll hold our own and give our skill athletes a chance to do what they do and make some plays and score some points. Some of this is part of when you practice against our defense. When you play an unusual defense and a defense that takes chances and lines up a hundred different ways, it's really hard on young offensive linemen. It's hard enough for them to know their assignment. Then all of the sudden the guy that they are blocking moves and another guy shows up and a guy from the secondary comes off the edge and they don't know exactly who to block. If they don't know exactly who to block, it's hard to block them. Starting Thursday, it's going to be nothing but Washington and nothing but scout teams. So I'm sure that our offensive linemen will feel a lot more comfortable when we get to the game than they do right now. And to be honest with you, on defense, we experiment. We do some stuff that's unsound just to see if it will work to rush the passer. So it's not unusual for an offensive lineman to see three guys coming in the spot that he's supposed to block. That's hard to do no matter who you are. Now, we aren't going to use some of those because they didn't work very well. If they ever work very well, they see them over and over again.

Q. How would you characterize Washington's defense, as being a fairly simplified one versus being a fairly complicated one?
Now, that's a great question, because we have no idea what their defense is going to be. To be honest with you, we can't watch any of their films from last year. They had a defensive coordinator that their head coach fired and they hired a new defensive coordinator that came from Tennessee but was also at Boise State. So you try to base off what you saw off a Tennessee film to make your game plan. As you watch our practice, some people watch their practices, too. And as you guys film our practice, other people film their practices, too. Now they have closed their practices down and you can't get in. Early on in practice, everybody that has a phone or a camera that views that stuff, that stuff's online. What we have seen online, none of it is even close to what he did at Tennessee. So, we are going in a tunnel and it's really dark because we have no idea what they are going to do on defense, none whatsoever. Now, their offense, we know they are going to run the same offense. For you that saw the bowl game against Baylor, it was like there was no defense out there. They're so good, they scored every time they had the ball and the other team just outscored them. They have most of those guys back. So I can talk about that because I've seen that on film.

Q. How do you think your defense will match up against Washington?
We'll be all right. We're a high risk defense. That means that we'll make some plays and that means they will make some plays. We just have to make more than they do.

Q. What stage are you at on injuries?
I think we have three broken bones now. As practices get more aggressive, the injuries start to mount. Chad Jeffries broke his forearm in one of the scrimmages. He's a freshman quarterback and he's getting operated on today. They estimate five to-six weeks before he's well. J.J. Whittaker has broken something in his shoulder. So he'll be out or four or five weeks and that's all estimate. Now, Dylan Denso broke his finger, and they have already operated on him. The conservative estimate is he'll be practicing the week of the first game. He has not practiced since, but that was only three or four days ago that he got hurt. You know and then we have the normal bumps and bruises and strained muscles and all that stuff. Some of the guys we're more careful with than other guys because they are veterans and we know they can play. So they get time to heal up and the other ones don't get time to heal up because they are trying to make the squad.

Q. Is Gavin Escobar okay?
He's going to be okay. He's not okay right now. He has a strained knee. Nothing serious and he's one of those guys that we'll take it easy on. But there again, the doctors give me the estimates. The estimate is he'll be fine by next Sunday and ready to practice.

Q. What is the punting situation after how the scrimmage played out on Saturday?
I'm glad that you brought that up. Because it has turned into that we are never punting. That is not what I said. What I said was we are toying with the idea of once we get across the 50 yard line, of going for it on fourth down. That's exactly what we did on Saturday. When the ball was not over the 50 yard line, we punted. And when the ball was over the 50 yard line, you didn't see one punt. You didn't see a field goal. You didn't see an extra point. When they scored, they went for two and they went for every fourth down. Now, we are still considering whether we are going to do that or not but that's the way we've practiced from day one in camp. So that's what I said .I said when we cross the 50, we are considering not punting. I knew that was going to come up, because in the scrimmage, we punted several times. It was always before we got the 50. The word has gotten out that we are never punting again, so that is not what I said and that is not what I meant. And in the scrimmage, we had a plan if one team could get down there and a field goal would have won the game, we would have kicked the field goal. So that's the idea. Whether that's going to happen in the first game or not, that's yet to be determined.

Defensive Players

Q. Your thoughts on the defense and how you guys are coming long?
Nat Berhe: Well, I'm excited. The biggest concern is the D Line and it's helped that a lot of the young guys are playing and getting a lot of reps during practice. I'm looking forward to the first game. I know they are and they have been practicing pretty well. So, I'm excited.

Q. Along those lines, what's it like to try and bring guys along as fast as you have to, to get ready?
Nat Berhe: Lots of film study. Then as a veteran on defense, you have to be very vocal and lead by example on the field, rally the guys, rally the troops so everybody can be on the same page.

Q. Do you get a sense that those guys are panicking at all?
Nat Berhe: There isn't any urge of panic or anything like that. As far as assignment wise, everybody is pretty much solid. We are just trying to take it day-by-day.

Q. Some of the changes with such a different defense, going against a team like Washington with a high powered offense, what is the sense of how you guys will do?
Rene Siluano: Being in the backfield, your first concern is you can't give up a big play as you are the last line of defense. Also in our defense, you have to be aggressive because our whole idea is to get to the ball, fire out to the ball. So with those two concepts put together, you have to be smart and just know your personnel. With a good team like Washington, if you show any spot of weakness in the defense, they are good enough to attack it. If you fly around and do your assignments right, we should have no problem.
Leon McFadden: Yeah, you really have to hone in on your assignment. If you have make a mistake, the ball will find you, as coach White said. If you're not on your P's and Q's, the ball will find its way to you and we can't afford to have any of those assignments missed.

Q. How much pressure is on the secondary because you're not sure what the defensive line is going to look like in competition?
Leon McFadden: I mean, like Nat said, those guys are going to compete. I don't necessarily think that we are going to have more pressure on us in the backfield on the back end. Those guys will put pressure on these quarterbacks allowing us to not be in coverage for that long.

Q. Has there been any kind of big surprise for camp as far as individuals?
Leon McFadden: Jake Fely. He's an undersized linebacker that gives his all every play. We're out there doing walk throughs and he's still going a hundred miles per hour. He knows that he's undersized, but he has a big heart and he works hard. Once we all get ahold of that, there's no stopping us. That guy, in-and-out, in the film room, in the weight room, on the field, Jake Fely is one of those guys in camp that really is standing out.

Q. Seemed like the defense really tightened up in the second half of the scrimmage, after going back to the film, what stood out to you guys?
Nat Berhe: Pressure. We got a lot of pressure in the second half. In the first half, we were kind of conservative and coach Long told us to jack it up and we jacked it up and offense was sort of eliminated in the second half.

Q. Do you feel like you guys have the ability to dictate the game on a regular basis?
Nat Berhe: Absolutely. I think we have the ability to. With the pressure that we send and the coverage's that we play and the guys in the back end, I'm confident.

Q. What do you think it's going to be like Keith Price?
Leon McFadden: I haven't talked to him in probably about three months or so. But I'm really looking forward to it. You know, as you said, he's a former teammate of mine and it's going to be interesting to see what his mind set is going to be. I'm pretty sure he's going to try to test me. It's all about competing at the end of the day.

Q. From a defensive perspective, what do you guys hear from Brice Butler on your side on the ball?
Leon McFadden: In one on ones, if he'll catch a ball, he'll feel a little confident. Or in seven on seven, he might score a touchdown. It's all good. It's all part of the game, smack talking, but don't let that control you. Don't let it get inside your head. It's all about competing. There's going to be trash talking everywhere but it makes us better in practice as you can say.

Q. What do you think of Brice Butler's personality? Leon McFadden: It's great. He speaks his mind and that's the type of guy Brice is. He's brought some energy to this program and we can all appreciate that.
Rene Siluano: I just feel at the DB spot and the wide receiver spot, you've got to carry that sort of swag on you, like knowing that from a defensive standpoint, I'm going to cover you, or from his standpoint, I'm going to catch this ball. You have to have that confidence and he has a lot of confidence.

Q. What strikes you about Butler? Rene Siluano: That's just his demeanor, and that's how he carries himself. It helps him on the field. But like Leon said, you can't let that control who you are in the game and let that get into your head, because that's when things start going south for you.

Q. Talk about how camp is going for you and are you ready to step up and take a bigger role?
Rene Siluano: Absolutely. My whole thing and everybody's whole thing should be when you get your opportunities, you have to take advantage of them and that's all I'm doing right now. I'm getting my opportunity and I'm trying to take advantage of it.

Offensive Players

Q. How is your injury?
Gavin Escobar: It's good. I have a partial strain. It's getting better every day, feeling better since it happened. So I'm just taking it day-by-day.

Q. Being inconsistent seemed to be a pretty popular word coming out of the scrimmage on Saturday. Three days later, when you look back on it, what do you make of it now?
Ryan Katz: Yeah, I would say it was night and day. We had a lot of things that we learned from in the scrimmage. Guys responded well and came back Monday ready to go. We had some good practice under our belt now. I think just learning from the mistakes, watching the film. I mean, really, our ultimate goal is getting ready for Washington. We have ten days left, so we have to really speed this process up.

Q. How is the development of the offensive line coming?
Alec Johnson: We are coming along. We are getting a lot of reps, which is good at our position, just to get consistency and working with each other and knowing what each other are doing and capable of. We are not quite there yet, but we are making progress.

Q. What kind of things do you guys need to work on specifically to get to where you want to be at?
Alec Johnson: Just trust, knowing that someone's has your back and help when needed and knowing when to help you out and to protect him.

Q. Coach was talking about the fact that during the course of practice, he could throw a hundred different formations at you. Will you ever truly see anything like that during the course of the season?
Alec Johnson: Not at all. It's awesome. It's awesome going into real games and real defenses, because we get thrown everything but the kitchen sink in practice. So pick up and blitz pick up during games is awesome and it's easy, because you're like, wow, this is what regular defenses run. It's actually really nice for us, because we get craziness and chaos in practice, and it's not like that in games. So it's definitely helpful.

Q. Coach was saying that you guys are almost in the dark as far as the Washington defense and not quite sure what they will do. Is there some discomfort with not quite knowing what they're going to do?
Ryan Katz: Yeah, it's a little different. Their defensive staff is gone from a year ago, so we are kind of watching different films of what the old defensive coordinator, the new one, I should say, at Washington. So looking at him and seeing what he tends to run. It is kind of going in the dark because you never know, he may change things up. It's just really preparing for anything. There are only so many defenses you can run. Different plays work better against certain defenses. So we'll have all those dialed up and ready to go for Washington.

Q. What is the offensive line preparing for in planning for Washington?
Alec Johnson: We are not really preparing for any one thing. We are kind of just preparing for everything and seeing what they will run come game time and we'll adjust then. So it's not like we are focusing on one defense because we don't know what they are going to run.

Q. Can you talk about your experience playing at Washington with Oregon State, what can you expect going on the road there?
Ryan Katz: It won't be at Washington, it will be in Seahawk Stadium. But it's loud there, too. I've been up there. It's going to be loud and we have to prepare for it, the crowd noise. Those guys are going to be ready to go and they have been working all fall camp, all summer long. So just trying to let everyone know, they are going to be ready to play and we will, too.

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