SDSU Football News Conference Quotes
Nov. 6, 2012
As is the case and it is a good problem to have, this game becomes really important. (It's) against a very disciplined, very tough football team that runs a very unusual offense that is impossible to get ready for in three days. In order for us to have a chance to win, we have to prepare well and hopefully outscore them.
Q. Has Air Force done anything different this year than in the past?
No, it's pretty much the same as they were last year. The year before that, they were more triple-option than they are now, but last year they weren't (running) a lot of triple-option either. They line up in the triple-option formations, but they run more speed-option and toss sweeps and things like that than the other Academy teams do. The triple-option is just a part of their offense. It's not like the other Academies that almost the total offense is triple-option.
Q. Does Air Force doing that make it harder to prepare for them?
It makes it more difficult because you still have to be able to play against the triple-option. Then it kind of sets you up for some of the other plays they run.
Q. What did Army do against Air Force that you could learn from?
They got ahead. If the game is close, Air Force does a great job of pounding the ball, keeping the ball away from you so you don't have a chance to score points. They've punted a total of 19 or 20 times the whole season, which means they don't have to punt very much. Against Army, they got behind by three touchdowns and then they started throwing the ball a lot more.
Q. From an outside perspective watching on TV, it seems as if your offense is as good or better with Adam Dingwell. Is it possible that it's better?
I don't think we've had a drop-off, if that's what you mean. I don't think it's any better. Adam has done a good job of coming in and keeping things moving in the right direction. I thought when Ryan Katz was playing he did a great job too.
Q. You haven't had to change anything or cut back on anything with Adam Dingwell?
They basically run the same offense. We weren't sure that Adam would be able to check plays as well as he did last week. Each week, he should be getting a little bit better and he got a lot better this last week as compared to when his first start was against UNLV. He was a lot better against Boise State. So hopefully he'll continue that way.
Q. Are you impressed with the poise that Adam Dingwell has shown for a guy that doesn't have the experience?
Yeah, very impressed. I was really impressed on how he came off the bench. Then it is always a concern on how you're going to act as a starting quarterback. It doesn't seem like it bothers him any. We already knew he was a really good competitor. He's one of the toughest guys on the team. So he has respect of the other players and the other players are going to rally around him. But you wonder if he's going to perform at the level he's performed at to this point.
Q. It almost seems like it's a product of the system with a solid rushing attack that takes the ease off of the quarterback. Could you talk about the backfield this year where it compares to other backfields you've had in the past?
The difference between this one and other good rushing teams I've been around is that this has two quality running backs that share equal time. I've been around teams that have two quality running backs, but one got the majority of the carries, and the other one just kind of spelled them or rested them at times. Or you had a dominant running back that got most of the carries in the game and was something special like Ronnie Hillman was last year. Our two running backs are a little bit different styles, but they're carrying the ball almost equal number of times and they're having equal amount of success. So that's a little unusual that they're sharing equal carries and (have) very similar yardage and everything else.
Q. We know that there always needs to be productive offensive linemen in order for there to be a good backfield. Would you give one an edge over the other when comparing the offensive line and the backfield?
Oh, I think the offensive line is much more important. You can have some really good running backs that don't look really good because nobody's blocked in front of them. There's not been a running back in the history of the world that's made yards without somebody blocking for them and giving them a hole. Offensive line is much more important. You can have an average running back that will have a really good game if the offensive line is dominating the line of scrimmage.
Q. How much fun are you having this season as compared to maybe seasons in the past?
I don't know if you'd consider it fun. I'm being as honest as I can, and most coaches are this way. I enjoyed the victory the other night for about 10 minutes and then I started worrying about Air Force. I don't enjoy it until the season is over and we've been successful. Then I sit back and enjoy what happened. I'm sure I'll enjoy the Boise State win a lot more in January. I didn't enjoy it at all. I started watching Air Force on my computer on the way home, but that's a good problem to have. If you win those kinds of games, guess what? The next game is more important. People hate to hear that, but it is. This game's a lot more important than last week's game. Last week's game is long gone. We're playing a quality opponent that can beat us. For us to have a chance, we've got to play really well. For us to play really well, the coaches have to give them a good game plan and the players have to prepare well. Maybe other coaches enjoy it more than I do. I enjoy spring practice because you don't have to win.
Q. If you don't enjoy it, why do you do it?
It's my passion, I guess. I don't know. Everybody does what they do, and I'm lucky to do what I wanted to do.
Q. What does a win like this do for your program? Going on the road, beating a top 25 team for the first time in San Diego State history?
This team will always have that ability to brag about that because it's the first time. When you're around a team that does exceptional things, it's always `well, they haven't done it for 12 years.' But guess what? This one has never been done before. So this team, the members of this team will be able to carry that with them forever. Now most people won't care. But when you get my age, you can brag about stuff like that. And all the people that sit there and listen to you think it's kind of cool too.
Q. Have the old timers, guys that have been around a while come up and said, `hey, that was better than that Florida State win or that was the prettiest win I've seen in program history?' After the Boise game, I didn't hear that. But I heard that a couple times after the Nevada Reno game, yeah.
Q. Where would you rank that among your other solid regular season wins?
It's right up there. I've been around teams that have beaten top 20 teams before. But whenever you beat a top 25 team away from home and at a place where they are dominant at home, it's a pretty big deal.
Q. Coach, it struck me that even talking to the guys after the win, they've already started talking about Air Force. How has this team been able to sort of stay so even keeled throughout the season that's come with so many landmark wins?
That's yet to be seen because we've got two more games to play and this (next) one is important. But I think the quality football teams and quality programs in the country learn to treat every week exactly the same. They have the same respect for whoever they're playing. They prepare the same way for whoever they're playing, and they go into the game with the same attitude every week.
Q. Do you think your team has done that so far?
We're learning how to do that. I'm not sure. In the four years I've been here, the other three years when you had a dramatic loss, it carried on too long and when you had a good win, it carried on way too long. The really good programs in this country in football, guess what? They enjoy it for about 24 hours and then they forget about it. They don't get too excited when it happens because guess what? They expect to win. It's not unusual for them to win. They expect to win. Our team has shown some maturity this year that they've handled those wins pretty good.
Q. Where does that stem from? How do you instill that in your team as a coach? Is that a coach's thing or senior leadership?
No, I think it is success. I think people have to tell them that, but they're the ones that have to accept it. It's like everything about coaching. You try to point them in the right direction, and they have to accept it for it to be true, and they have to believe in it and they have to make it happen themselves. I've said in this room several times, we do a lot of good things (with) X's and O's that you guys don't have any idea (about). It's unbelievable, genius, because the players weren't able to execute it, and no one in the world knows it was genius. Then you might do something completely wrong. In fact, we did it the other night. We called the wrong personnel out there, so we called a defense that fit that personnel, but they were in a different personnel and we intercepted a pass. So that is players executing the plan whether it was the right call or not. You can call the perfect thing and no one will ever know because the players don't execute it. Coaches can lose games. Coaches can never win a football game. Players win football games.
Q. There was a lot of talk especially after the first game about your aggressive attitude on fourth down and point afters and punting less. And everybody was saying, `What's Rocky doing? And now you have two huge wins that are directly related to that philosophy, the win at Nevada and certainly against Boise State. Is there any sense of vindication or now Rocky's a genius? The back and forth, is there any sense of vindication from that philosophy?
None whatsoever. We do it to give what we think is the best chance for our team to win. We'll do that every week. We'll continue to do that. But guess what? The only reason people are happy about it now is because it worked. If it hadn't worked, the same people would be talking the other way like they were the first game of the year. I've been around long enough to be smart enough to know that. If they work, everybody thinks `Boy, what a gambler. Boy, gee whiz, that's wonderful". If it doesn't work, `That was dumb.'
Q. Was that an audible? Was Adam Dingwell just clarifying?
He changed the side of the play. Yeah, he did that several times during the game. He changed the protection a couple times, it really helped. He changed which way the running play was going to go, which really helped. I thought that was the biggest difference between this week and his first start. He really did a nice job of getting us into the right play. If you get into the right play, you have a better chance of success. You still have to block though. You still have to execute it, but it gives you a better chance.
Q. You had a player grab a Player of the Week award five consecutive weeks. How important has that been to your success?
That's just a bonus. It's a bonus when you win a game and someone played well, that you get some extra recognition. It's nice for the player. It's nice for the team, but I think the best thing we do is we have a team. We don't have anybody on our team that's self centered or worried about themselves. They're all worried about the success of the team.
Q. Given how young you guys were on the offensive line, defensive line, and how few seniors you have starting, are you surprised by where you guys are at this point in the season?
I'm surprised by what I thought we would be at the beginning of the year. I'm not surprised now.
Q. What do you mean?
At the beginning of the year, I thought that the inexperience we had would have caused us problems throughout the year. Our offensive line developed quicker than I thought and they're getting better every week. The defensive line didn't develop as quickly as I thought they would, but they're playing pretty good right now. Then you have guys stepping up that no one would have guessed that would be playing that well.
Q. Such as?
Adam Muema. Everyone was concerned before the season was we lost Ronnie Hillman. I told everybody, but they didn't want to listen because you all know better. Bryce Quigley has really developed into a good offensive linemen, Cody Galea has really been playing well on the defensive line. Derek Largent at linebacker, he's exceeded what we thought he would be out of junior college. I could probably list 10, 12, 15 guys if I had a list in front of me and wanted to go that way.
Q. What about Jake Fely, injury wise?
He should be fine. He's got a strain in a muscle in his lower leg. He plays hurt anyway. And he weighs 190 pounds and he says he's 5'11", but I don't think he is. A guy that size playing middle linebacker is going to get beat up. So he better be pretty tough and he better be able to play hurt.
Q. How does a guy that size have this success? He's having a fantastic year. He's only a sophomore. How does a guy that size do so well?
He's a good football player. He's got great instincts and has a great heart. He's obviously got athletic ability too. He's quick, he can run fairly fast. He's not afraid to hit you. In fact, he likes hitting you. He's got great instincts. That's one of those things that coaches don't coach. Some people are better at it than others. They just react the right way. He plays really hard and he makes a lot of plays. He was exactly like that in high school. He didn't get recruited about a lot of people because he was 5'9" and weighed 190 pounds.
Q. Do you go extra hard after guys like that? That seems to be a model that maybe Boise State might have gone after, TCU, teams that really improved their program that weren't able to get those consistent five star guys. Is that a way you go getting guys that have immeasurable like that?
We try to recruit good football players, yeah. If you could get one like Jake that was 6'5" and 240 pounds and was going to be a first round draft choice, that's the one you'd get. But there are only a few of those guys in the world. So we look for good football players that fit into our system.
Q. Adam, they're calling the win over Boise State the biggest win in the history of this program. Would you agree?
Adam Dingwell: It was a big win, no doubt about that. But I couldn't speak for the history of this program. We're excited that we went out there and got a nice victory, but we're moving on now. It's all about Air Force. For us, that will be the biggest win in program history this next Saturday.
Q. Really, no celebration?
Adam Dingwell: Yeah, we celebrated in the locker room right after the game. Once we got on the plane, everybody just mellowed down and started thinking about what we have next week.
Q. Alec, you've been here for a while. How did that feel at the end of the game? Did it top the other ones in the past?
Alec Johnson: No, it was a win. It felt good. It was sweet, but come Sunday it was over with. We watched the film. There were some things that we could improve on, and we've got to go back to work this week.
Q. You said the locker room wasn't a little livelier, little more vibrant than other ones?
Alec Johnson: After every win, it's pretty lively. So no, not really.
Q. Coach was saying that in years past this team hasn't really been as even keeled as you've been this year. It's like you approach every game the same way. Do you see that change in this team?
Alec Johnson: I think we are. We are preparing each week like it's a huge game. Practicing hard every week and going into each game thinking that it's huge. That's how you've got to approach it. I see that in this team, and we need to do the same thing this week.
Q. Is that like a new thing around here? Was it like that in year's past when you guys lost? Would you dwell on it for longer?
Alec Johnson: No, you can't. You've just got to learn from the film and get rid of it. In year's past, it was pretty similar. This year's team is no different.
Q. Why can't you guys get more excited?
Alec Johnson: Because there are two more games. Air Force is coming into town. For me, it's Senior Night and the last time I'm going to play at home, and that's big and exciting. I want to go out with a win this week. So what's done is done. There is a big game ahead of us.
Q. What could go wrong if you got excited?
Alec Johnson: You overlook opponents. You think about, `oh, last week was awesome.' But you can't. This week's even bigger. I'm looking forward to this weekend.
Q. Adam, why can't you get excited?
Adam Dingwell: Alec summed it up. Last week was a good win for us. But last week means nothing if we go out there on Saturday and don't perform as well as we know how to and don't execute. It's fun. It's exciting right when the clock hits zeros. But after that, you're moving on. It may be hard to believe, but that's how we do it around here.
Q. Do you think a team reflects the coach?
Adam Dingwell: I think so, yeah.
Alec Johnson: Definitely.
Q. Adam, on fourth down at the end of the game, Coach Long said you checked off to run that play to the other side. What did you see? Take us through the process of that last fourth down play, what you saw when you came to the line of scrimmage and changed that play?
Adam Dingwell: Yeah, we had a nice little game plan set up in the run game, and then they came out in the defense where I had a few things I was looking for in the secondary. They gave me one of the looks and checked the play off. It was extremely loud at that point, so I was scrambling around trying to make sure everybody knew what to do. As soon as Adam hit the ball, I saw the hole. He hit it, got the first down, and won the game for us. O-line did a great job all night. Letting us crease them and wear them down. So it was exciting to see that.
Q. When Ryan Katz went down, were you determined to make sure there was no drop-off whatsoever in the offense?
Adam Dingwell: Yeah, of course, I was. I wanted to do just as well as Ryan was doing, and he did a great job. As a competitor, I wanted to exceed what he had done, and that's just the nature of the game. But Ryan did a good job, and I wanted to make sure when I got in there that everybody believed and never had a doubt of what I could do or what this offense could become.
Q. How did you do that?
Adam Dingwell: Just preparation throughout the week, summer, everything just kind of pays off. You work so hard for these points and these moments right here, so you have to seize them.
Q. How disappointed were you when you weren't named a starter at the beginning of the season, even though you had been in the program?
Adam Dingwell: As a competitor, you're always disappointed. But as soon as I found out, I just started to back up Ryan Katz and help him kind of learn the offense more. If he had questions, I told him he could come to me and ask me because I felt like I knew the offense pretty well. It wasn't my job to sulk and be sad about it. It was my job to go out there and prepare like I was going to play because I was always one play away. So that's what I just tried to do.
Q. So, Alec, knowing how he prepared and his attitude after not getting the starter, did that make the rest of the offense believe in him quicker and earn his respect even more?
Alec Johnson: Yeah, we have faith in all of our quarterbacks. (Adam) Dingwell has been around here for a while. He's a tough kid. You see that in practice for a long time, and Ryan Katz is a great player too. We have faith in any quarterback. As an offensive line, you have to take care of them and make sure there is nothing in their face and they can throw the ball and set their feet and make it easy for them. We just have faith in both of them.
Q. How has the vibe been around campus this week, Leon, since you guys won that game?
Leon McFadden: A lot more believers, you could say that. Everybody's happy that we're winning. It puts more pressure on us when we're winning, but everybody's happy.
Q. Where does that last win rank for you in past regular season wins?
Leon McFadden: It is the top win. It was one of the wins where we weren't happy like the Nevada game. The Nevada game was more emotional, I should say. But this top 25 win was definitely something that was remarkable. It's just great.
Rob Andrews: Yeah, it's a great experience to be able to play in a big game like that. Our offense played well, defense played well. Special teams really brought in a different aspect to really help us win that game. If it weren't for special teams, we didn't have as good of a chance with that blocked punt and that big return in the first play of the game.
Q. Brice, when you were at USC, they won big games all the time. Do you notice any difference between winning big games at USC and winning them here?
Brice Butler: I thought about that the other day because I room with Dominique Sandifer and Josh Wade. I could see how with that win this past weekend how everybody on the team, including myself, saw the change in this program for a better and positive future. Just how even my roommates were excited after the game, it just made me realize. I haven't been here for five years, but all of these guys have been working for this moment to see this program go to the next level. Just after having conversations with those two after the game, I realized how much they cherished the win. Because after the win, I expected to beat them. Like (Leon said), the Nevada game was more exciting and more emotional because that was, I'd say, our biggest test at that time. Going into the Boise State game, watching film I really felt like it was expected for us to beat them. We went out there and beat them. My emotions weren't as high as they were in Nevada. But after speaking to Nico and Josh about where they came from in the program and where we are now, it made me feel better about the situation.
Q. When you look at the program, the team that you guys joined when you were a freshman, Rob, you've been here five years. So how far has this program come since you've been a part of three different coaching regimes at this point?
Rob Andrews: Yeah, it's been a journey. First time I came here, we had a reputation of losing. First season I was here, I think we were 2-10. That's hard to come into a program like that. The next year we did a little better, 4-8. With this new coaching staff, what Rocky Long has brought in and just instilled being able to be aggressive and it's all about being aggressive and being able to play in a manner where you can play as best as you can, and having a coaching staff who are all really experienced. With Rocky Long, he's a winning coach. He's been to bowl games many times, so it's been a good experience.
Q. Is it a mindset change? What do you think it is?
Rob Andrews: Yeah, when you start winning, it's contagious. Everyone wants to win. As long as you're with your teammates and you work together, it's going to be for the best.
Q. How is the attention you guys received over the past couple of days been different versus say other wins in the past? Whether it's comments on campus, whether it's people blowing you up on Facebook? How has it been different?
Leon McFadden: It's been a lot different due to the fact that Boise State was No. 19 in the country going into that game. To a lot of people, we were the underdogs. Everybody expected us to lose. Everybody within the team knew we were confident, and going into that game, like Brice said, we were going to win. As a result, we won. We went out there, played hard, played physical, and everybody started to believe.
Q. The group of seniors that have come through the whole way here, this may be the most successful group to ever come through San Diego State, if you look at three consecutive bowl games. Leon and Rob, how does that make you feel?
Leon McFadden: It feels good to be a part of that. Coming in as a freshman, the whole reason for attending San Diego State was because I wanted to be part of change. The program was progressing and going into a positive direction. I feel honored to be a part of it.
Rob Andrews: Yeah, definitely. Just being able to start out with those senior guys. As freshman, we all came into our class. Now to be with the guys who have stuck with it. It's tough to hang on when you have losing seasons and just to hang on to teammates and seniors is really what we're playing for, to be able to play these last few games together as a senior class.
Q. Is there any sort of a sense that this program is on the verge of something big here?
Leon McFadden: Yes, most definitely we're on the verge of something big. All offseason we talked about winning the Mountain West championship, being great and working hard. That's what we're doing right now. I think that's one of the good vibes on the team right now. We all have confidence, and it's contagious on our team. That's what we need to be successful.
Q. Brice, it seemed you were getting into a groove with Ryan Katz, and now you've got a new quarterback. How is that relationship coming on the field?
Brice Butler: Oh, it's going good. Like I told people before, in camp I was going with Adam Dingwell pretty much the whole camp. So he and I have a good relationship on the field and off the field. So things have been going well. Just trying to stay focused and continue to practice hard so he can get a good look and good feel for the game plan for Saturday. It's all about practice, I like to say. Everything's been going well so far. Dingwell has been doing a great job stepping in, especially in the Nevada game, stepping in for Katz when he probably didn't expect to play at all. So he's been doing a great job.
Q. What was your goal coming here from USC?
Brice Butler: Just to play hard and be part of a winning team. Just set myself up for the NFL.
Q. For the past few weeks, maybe even longer than that, all the anticipation athletic wise has been for the basketball team. It's all anyone's talking about. First of all, have you thought about that at all? Do you feel like maybe you're coming out of their shadow a little?
Leon McFadden: I personally haven't really thought about that. I know what you mean by the vibe. The whole campus is supporting basketball more so than football. But I feel that we've stepped out of that shadow and we've gained a lot more attention.
Rob Andrews: Yeah, I think the biggest deal is the fact that we have the potential to go to our third bowl game in a row, and that speaks volumes about a program. Just to see how we do in the next two games and the bowl game, it will lead on to next year. We'll get a lot more attention in the program, especially changing conferences to the Big East. It will be a big difference.
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