SDSU Football News Conference Quotes

Oct. 2, 2012

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Rocky Long

Opening Statement:

First off, I'd like to say I've got to do a much better job of coaching. Over the last three weeks, we have been absolutely terrible in pass defense. Special teams haven't been very good either. They've been very inconsistent and really bad in the San Jose game. On offense, we were good for two weeks and then kind of poor against Fresno State. So obviously, I'm doing a terrible job of coaching. Second off, we play Hawai'i this week, and I would guess that Hawai'i feels exactly the same way we do. When you watch them on film, they're much more talented and have the ability to play much better than they've been playing. I'm sure they're frustrated and want to win a game very bad. That is the same (way) that we are. We have enough talent to be better than we are, so it comes down to coaching. I'm sure we're all frustrated. I'm frustrated. We're frustrated and the only way to make that better is to be able to win a game. I imagine both teams want to win this game very bad. The talent level is very equal so it ought to be a heck of a game.

Q. You say terrible job of coaching. What do you think you could have done better or different?

When you're doing things and they don't work right, you have to adjust how you do things. We've tried to adjust over the last couple weeks, especially on pass defense, and for a little bit of the time it would work. Then eventually the other team would adjust to what we were doing differently and the results ended up the same. We have to adjust what we're doing and do it better, so that our players understand the scheme better and perform better.

Q. Are you planning on switching anything defensively in practice?

No, we're going to practice the same.

Q. How about personnel wise?

No, we're going to play the guys that have been playing because they are our best players.

Q. What would you say is most frustrating about those two losses?

The most frustrating thing is on special teams in the San Jose game. We gave them 17 points on special teams, otherwise you win that game. Last week we made some big plays on defense which gave us a chance and kept us in the game, gave us a chance to win it, but we couldn't do anything on offense.

Q. Leon McFadden has been really the only sure thing week in and week out for the season. What has he meant to the team so far?

He's made a lot of big plays. He's intercepted a pass in each of the last three games. Two of them he's returned for touchdowns, so he's having a great year. That's just like one guy on offense having a great year and not scoring enough points to win and one guy on defense. You can't win games unless you have 11 guys on both sides of the ball playing well and then 11 guys on whatever special teams out there playing well. We don't have anybody playing really well on special teams. We don't have anybody playing really well on offense and we're terrible in pass defense. So we don't have anybody playing really well in pass defense. If you want to blame it on the talent level, you can do that, or you can believe you have enough talent to be a pretty good, competitive football team. If they're not performing at that level, it's obviously a coaching error.

Q. I'm sure you've been in this situation before. How does your team rally after two tough losses?

I've been in this situation more than I want to remember. I've been around teams that struggled really badly in pass defense. I've been around teams that struggled really badly in run defense. I've been around teams that couldn't score a point. There's only one way to do it. Now the positives, you want the real positive of everything. Our kids play hard. Even though we've been struggling, you haven't seen one sign of them giving up. You haven't seen one side of them not playing physical. You haven't seen one side of them not playing hard. So as long as they'll practice hard and play like that, if we find the right formula or the hot button as a coach, we're going to be fine. If we don't ever find the hot button as a coach, we're going to be like this the whole year. Then you have to reevaluate things in the off season and change a bunch of things in the off season. I'm counting on our kids continuing to play hard and I count on us to be better coaches from here on out.

Q. Talk about how you've been on teams that have struggled against the pass defensively. What did you do to switch it up? How far do you go to dilute your schemes or change things to make sure that your schemes fit what the kids can do?

Over the last two weeks we've changed some scheme things in practice that have really helped us for a little bit of the time. Then as soon as the other team adjusts to what we're doing, we haven't practiced it enough to be efficient or executed good enough when they actually figure out what you're doing. We haven't executed well enough to do it. So we haven't practiced it enough. We can't have five hour practices. We're still only going to practice the same amount of time. We've done that for three weeks and that hasn't worked. So the other alternative is to reduce your package. Probably not give them any trouble whatsoever on them figuring out what you're doing and be able to execute it better so your players play better. Now they'll be able to do some things that hurt it. But still, if you can execute what you're doing, you should be able to offset that enough to give you a chance to win.

Q. Can you elaborate on some of the things that you guys switched up that worked for a little bit against Fresno State?

We did some zone blitzes. How do you think we got two interceptions back for touchdowns? They also threw for 300 yards against zone blitzes too. I don't know how many touchdowns were actually zone blitz touchdowns, but two or three of the touchdowns were against zone blitzes. It is diminishing returns. You make two big plays because of the zone blitz, but you give up four big plays because of the zone blitz. If your offense is struggling, you can't let them score that many points.

Q. Why did your offense struggle last game? It looked like you just couldn't establish the run?

I don't think we've established the run. I don't think we've protected the quarterback. So it would have been really nice if the offensive line would have blocked better. Now, I don't think that's a scheme issue, but obviously protecting the quarterback and being able to block on the run, if you're playing against a good defensive front, that's technique. Assignment and technique work. If the assignments and technique work is not good enough, then the coaching is not good enough. Either that or we don't have good enough players and I'm not ever going to say that we don't have good enough players, ever.

Q. Do you feel like your offense has been steadily getting better and better throughout the season until this game against Fresno?

I thought the offense has played well all year. Maybe not the Washington game, but they played well for three weeks and played poorly last week, basically because we got beat at the line of scrimmage. They were better at the line of scrimmage than we were.

Q. Now that being said, are you looking forward to facing a Hawai'i defense that has lost a couple of defensive linemen to injuries?

I'm not really looking forward to playing anybody, but the competitive spirit in me wants to play today. I wish the game was today. The only way to make yourself feel better is to be able to go out and play and win. I think that Hawai'i is in the exact same situation we are. If you watch them on film, they've got plenty enough talent. It's going to be a good game because I know they are frustrated and they're going to want to play good. We're frustrated and we're going to want to play good. So both teams are going to play very aggressively and both teams are going to play very hard. What it comes down to is the team that executes the best is going to win. In the situation they're in and the situation we're in, you can throw what has happened out the window.

Q. How do you get your offensive line up to speed? It would be nice if they can block better. What do you do as a coach?

You practice. You continue to practice. I mean, we knew we were going to struggle on the offensive line. And other than last week, that hasn't been the case. We knew we were going to struggle on the defensive line, and that has been the case from day one and it hasn't gotten any better.

Q. What is the status of Dontrell at this point?

He's still taking care of personal issues.

Q. So what do you guys miss without him on your starting defensive line?

I don't think we miss anything. Whenever a person has to leave because of personal reasons or being disciplined, it's just like a player getting hurt. You have to replace them with whoever the next guy is, and whoever you've got, he's got to perform at the same level. This is not pro football where you take them off the waiver wires or take them off the practice squad. This is college football. You play the next guy and hope he plays just as well.

Q. Looking at this next game, what is one thing that has to go for you guys in order to pull out a victory?

We've got to be able to stop a pass play.

Q. This is the first of a two game home stand before you guys go on the road, how crucial are the two games of this home stand?

I don't think of two games in advance. I think of this game. As poorly as we've been playing, especially in pass defense, every game is crucial to get better. I'll say it again, no game is more important than the one you're playing this week.

Q. What do you see from Hawai'i's offense?

They had a really good running back that got hurt in the USC game and he's supposed to be back for our game. The struggle they had against BYU is because they lost the battle at the line of scrimmage. BYU rushed four and the quarterback couldn't get a pass off. They had a seven man front and they couldn't run the ball. It was totally at the line of scrimmage. Against Nevada Reno, if you watch that film, they moved the ball really well against Reno. They made some mistakes, they fumbled a couple times and threw an interception, but they moved the ball really well. Nevada Reno might be the best team in our league.

Q. What do you see from their special teams?

Yeah, we've only seen him in one game, and before that, they were using one of their defensive backs as the punter. So they were doing all kinds of things in the punting game. Sprinting him out and rugby punting. They had about 18 different punt formations, so you had trouble lining up to it. Last week their punter was back, so they were kind of average. They do the exact same thing we do. They have a shield punt. He kicked the heck out of it last week, so I'm sure they're glad he's back. We're hoping all those formations don't show up because that means you have to practice against all of them.


Ryan Katz
Alec Johnson
Leon McFadden
Dominique Sandifer
Josh Wade

Q. What is the morale right now and how are the guys doing?

Ryan Katz: We're doing fine. We watched the film. We know we can get better at it. I think the guys' morale was up Sunday when we practiced and were lifting. We've just got to get after it the next weeks, worry about the next game in front of us and try to beat Hawaii.

Q. What did you see most with the film?

Ryan Katz: There are a lot of assignment errors. We were playing well at one point, and we came into the second half, and they came out and played harder than us. There are some things and plays that you'd like to have back. I know on my part, turnover wise, you can never turn the ball over five times and expect to have a chance to win, and we did. So it's just kind of frustrating. You just try to get better from it.

Q. What about from the offensive line standpoint?

Alec Johnson: We need to get better. They were a good team up front and they beat us. They executed better. We had a few assignment issues. A lot of it was technique, but we need to work hard this week and get a W to get back to .500.

Q. How well prepared were you for this game? Did you see a lot of things that you didn't think you were going to see?

Alec Johnson: No. We were well prepared. We just got beat. They're a good team, and we messed up.

Q. Strength wise, quickness wise, mentally?

Alec Johnson: Not really any of that. Mentally, if you think of assignment issues and not blocking where we're supposed to block sometimes, but other than that, not really. They weren't a lot stronger than us. That wasn't it.

Q. You look at the last few games, the offense actually played really well. The last game the coach said you guys got beat at the line of scrimmage. Is it just basically an assignment thing, like people just blew their assignments?

Alec Johnson: Sometimes. Some of it was technique. Not taking the right foot work. You'll get beat when you do that and that happens. So we need to learn from the film. We watched it. Hopefully this week we can have a good week of practice. We're back at home, so we need to win.

Q. Hawai'i has a few defensive tackles out with injuries. Are you licking your chops?

Alec Johnson: No, it's not like those are the only two. They're going to have good back ups that we're expecting. We need to prepare hard. We need a good week of practice this week up front to come back. We had a rough one last week, so we need to have a good game up front this week.

Q. How do you get your guys to rally around you this week?

Ryan Katz: As seniors, we put a lot of pressure on seniors and I think we all just have to get these guys ready to go. There are only 12 guaranteed games. We understand that. We want to play for 13. We've got to start winning some games around here. We're disappointed off back to back losses. We just have to prepare hard this week, get these guys ready to go and just have a good Tuesday practice.

Q. Do you think it will beneficial for Coach to dial back the defense so you can understand it better?

Leon McFadden: Yeah, it's going to be beneficial to us. We'll be able to be more relaxed and pay attention to our assignments. That's something we need to do so we can execute.

Q. Have you felt any added pressure this season?

Leon McFadden: Not pressure. Being a defensive senior, you have to motivate the guys. Being a captain, I have to keep these guys' heads up and keep the confidence up on defense. We have a lot of young guys and a lot of us are making mental errors. We need to improve on those things.

Q. How non effective was it thinking about what you guys had to do too much rather than just playing? Because there comes to a point where you're thinking I've got to be here, I've got to be here, and then you're not able to play?

Josh Wade: At corner, our assignments are pretty simple most of the time. I felt like a lot of the guys had to disguise more things and walk into coverage and they weren't very comfortable with it. So it was an adjustment, definitely, probably for more of the safeties and linebackers. When they get more reps, I'm sure we'll get a lot better at it and be able to make adjustments better in the game.

Q. You guys did okay in the first half. What are other teams doing at halftime to switch it up when they come out to the second half to do better against your defense?

Leon McFadden: At halftime, they are switching up their game plan to match our defensive scheme. We're not executing or adjusting fast enough.

Q. Does that come with experience with what you guys are doing? How do you identify what they're doing when they come out at halftime, and switch up to match what they're doing?

Josh Wade: You've just got to play hard and fast and trust what you see in front of you. Get to where you're supposed to be, and make sure you're focused and locked in. Then any kind of mistakes after that, they'll correct themselves and fly around the ball and hopefully make some ball instructions and it will work itself out.

Q. Josh, how's the calf?

Josh Wade: It's a lot better. I'm doing some treatments today. I just have to stay hydrated, get in the cold tub. It's feeling a lot better.

Q. Are you going to practice today?

Josh Wade: Yes.

Q. It seems like the offense is humming along, getting better and better every week until this last week against Fresno State. Do you feel like that's kind of a step back in the offense?

Dominique Sandifer: In a sense, yeah, we took a step back. But at the same time, with practice and repetition, we'll be ready to go this week. We had little hiccup. We had assignment errors across the board at every position. So we need to pick that up and get that rolling this week.

Q. How quick did you recognize that play where you had the pick-six touchdown?

Leon McFadden: When you're on the goal line like that, they're going to suck you into the run and do a play action. In my mind, I'm thinking about the possibilities of what plays they can run out of the formation. That happened to be one of the plays that I thought about. (I) just read it perfectly and baited the quarterback into throwing that ball.

Q. Are there any positives you can take from last week's game?

Josh Wade: Definitely there are positives. There is a lot of film we got from it. Some things we saw that we did wrong. You take a hard look at yourself after losing two tough games like this. We definitely have a lot to prove. We've got to have a great week of practice and fix those things and be able to adjust when the pressure's on.

Q. What are some of the things that you guys saw that you did wrong last week against Fresno?

Leon McFadden: Assignments.

Q. More than usual?

Leon McFadden: Yeah, across the board.

Q. When you say assignment errors, you're just talking about not being in the right place at the right time?

Leon McFadden: Exactly.

Q. As corners, with them putting up as many passing yards as they have, does it hit more of a pride thing than anything else?

Josh Wade: Definitely. Any time a team can throw over 500 yards, you've definitely got to think about making some adjustments and wanting to break up more balls because that's way too many. We've got to look at the film and figure out a way to get it done.

Q. Just you as individuals tend to take more risks because you know you guys can make a game change, a game difference?

Josh Wade: Definitely. Turn around and getting your eyes on the ball and finding the ball and forcing turnovers is something that we really want to do. I feel like the corners have been doing decent jobs in coverage. Leon has a couple interceptions for touchdowns. We've just got to get our hands on more balls and find a way to get a better job done out of the deal.

Leon McFadden: At corner, it's risky. If you're in the wrong spot and you get beat, you really get exposed. So that's a big thing too. So we really do take it personally as a corner.

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