Aztec Football Press Conference Quotes

Aug. 5, 2016

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SDSU Football
Opening Camp Press Conference
Aug. 5, 2016

Head Coach Rocky Long

Opening Statement:
“We’re excited about practice starting up and to get everybody on the same page. We have seven guys that will not be out there when practice starts because of injuries. Marcus Stamps won’t be out there because he hasn’t recovered totally from a back injury. (Redshirt freshman wide receiver) Dominic Rose is a knee injury, (sophomore offensive lineman) Ryan Pope is a lung contusion, (junior linebacker) Tyler Morris is a knee, (redshirt freshman linebacker) John Carroll is a shoulder, (freshman) Trenton Fincher, one of our new offensive linemen, is a knee, and (safety) Will Stricklin II, who’s a freshman from here in town is a foot injury. All seven of those guys hopefully will get back some time during the season but they’re not going to start with us.

“Everybody thinks that, through preseason hype, we’re going to be pretty good. I think we have a chance to be pretty good, too. It’s just a matter of us having the right attitude and staying away from injuries and playing well when we have to play well. Going into the season, we have a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of positive thoughts going and we’ll see how it goes.”

On how the injuries will affect the team:
“We’re hoping Ryan Pope gets back soon. All of the rest of them will be about halfway through the season. We’ve had a few position changes that are interesting. Daniel Brunskill, (our) starting tight end, is going to play tackle because of the Ryan Pope injury. He’s going to be our starting tackle on that one side. Dakota Turner, who has been a defensive lineman since we got here, we’re going to try him at fullback.”

On senior Daniel Brunskill moving to tackle:
“We think that he is an exceptional blocker. He understands the system already so we don’t have to worry about teaching him anything and we have a lot of confidence in him, as well, as a tight end. Brunskill was an offensive lineman in high school, too.”

On the state of the defense going into camp:
“I think that it’s probably the most experienced defense we’ve had. Whether we play like that or not remains to be seen. We have to come up with a nose tackle in the front and we have to come up with a linebacker to make up for Jake Fely, who was one of the best defensive players that have ever played here. In the linebacker spot, we have to gain some depth. In the defensive linemen spot, we have to gain some depth. The secondary is pretty good. All of the starters are back and their backups are back, except that one corner spot. But nothing works unless the front guys are able to hold their own.”

On opening the season against New Hampshire:
“Just because they’re from way back east and we’re way out here in the west, that does not mean that they’re not a good football team. They are a good football team. They have a lot of players coming back and they had a really good year last season.”

On redshirt sophomore Christian Chapman beginning the season as the starting quarterback:
“We’re pretty confident that he can do it because of the way he finished last year. There is a difference between being a starter and being the guy that came off the bench. But he’s been our starting quarterback through camp and he should be okay. Hopefully, his confidence in knowing the offense this season will allow us to expand his role.”

On senior running back Donnel Pumphrey:
“I think he is as good as any running back in the country but I also think the league we play in and being on the west coast makes it very difficult for him to earn any national recognition. But he’s as good as anyone in the country and that gives him a chance (at national recognition). What surprised me was that, at the start of his career, he was so durable and could run between the tackles and that hasn’t changed since then. He’s still durable and still runs between the tackles. I think he’s physically tough and he’s also one of the nicest guys I’ve ever been around, too.”

On senior linebacker Calvin Munson:
“I thought we had the best of both worlds last year. I thought our two linebackers were the two best in the league. I think that he’s as good as any linebacker in our league and he’s as good as any linebacker that we’ve played against or will be playing against. I really believe that.”

<>On who will fill Jake Fely’s role:
“That’s one of the big questions coming in to fall camp. Those guys will be given a lot of opportunity to prove themselves. We’ve got two guys in the program that played some last year, we have a JC guy that played quite a bit last year and we have Ryan Dunn, who we can move into an inside linebacker, but we’d like to keep him as an outside linebacker. Ronley Lakalaka will have a chance, Austin Wyatt-Thayer will have a chance, Kyahva Tezino will have a chance, so those three guys will be battling it out all through fall camp.”

On the quarterback position:
“Coming in to camp, Ryan Agnew was the backup quarterback. But Jimmy Walker is going to compete to see who the backup is. We thought Ryan Agnew had the better spring. I think that we believe in Christian, that he’s going to be a fine quarterback, but he hasn’t played very much so he needs a bunch of reps. Now you’re worried about who your backup quarterback is going to be and you have two guys that want to battle it out. Well, they need a 1,000 reps, too. If your starter had been the starter for two years, you could reduce his reps and let those guys battle it out to be the backup. But since he hasn’t been the starter for the whole time, he needs as many reps as those guys. I think it’s a delicate balance and that puts us in the hole because we don’t have a veteran, established quarterback.”

Senior running back Donnel Pumphrey

On being on the verge of passing many of Marshall Faulk’s career records:
“I never thought I would be in this situation. I came in at 154 pounds ready to work and everything has gone in the right direction for me. The coaches have put me in perfect situations.”

On if he’s grown as a player working under the coaching staff:
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot under (head coach) Rocky Long and (associate head coach/offensive coordinator/running backs coach) Jeff Horton. They push me and the other running backs, making me the running back I am today.”

On coming back for his senior year:
“I’ve always known I was going to come back. I’ve always talked about graduating to my parents. I also committed to being (at San Diego State) for four years and I told the coaches that when they first recruited me. That’s been a big part of me wanting to stay here.

“(Breaking Marshall Faulk’s records) was a big part as well, but also knowing that we have a great team coming back. It could be a special year and I know that if everything goes right we can hopefully win another conference championship. That’s our ultimate goal this year.”

On holding up through the wear and tear that running backs take: “Our offensive line and fullback do a great job of holding onto their blocks, and I’m able to make guys miss in space. I try to not let guys make a big hit on me and square up on me.””

On running through the tackles here at SDSU as opposed to high school:
“It came more naturally to me because we ran a similar offense in high school with Coach (Hunkie) Cooper being the play-caller and now an assistant coach under (associate head coach/offensive coordinator/running backs coach) Jeff Horton. The play calls are really similar. I’ve always felt like I’ve been able to run in between the tackles. That’s been a big part of my game because I’ve been able to get through the holes a lot faster than the big backs and that’s helped me a lot.”

On his biggest improvement over the four years:
“My receiving game. I’ve worked a lot this offseason on route-running and catching the ball out in front with my hands. Last year I saw that I was catching the ball with my body, but hopefully I will be a lot better in the receiving game.”

On playing for head coach Rocky Long:
“I actually love playing for him. He’s a hard-nosed coach. He loves toughness. Playing for him, you can’t be soft and can’t be a selfish player.”

On winning 10 straight games to close the season last year:
“It meant a lot. Nobody likes starting slow and losing three games. We know that if we start fast this season, it could be a special year and a possible undefeated season.”

On expectations for the season:
“Our ultimate goal is a conference championship. We’re really looking forward to the first game of the season and we know we can’t look past any team. My freshman year against Eastern Illinois we might have looked past those guys. I know they have an NFL quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo), but they smacked us right in the mouth.”

On memories of Marshall Faulk:
“Just watching him putting on a show on that (St. Louis) turf. He’d spin and make guys miss, and he was a great receiver out of the backfield. I try to do stuff like he did.

“I wouldn’t ever say I’d replace him on top of the list, because he was only here for three years. To have those incredible stats in three years was unreal. He’s also a Hall-of-Famer. It’s just a blessing and an honor to even have my name besides his.”

On possibly going undefeated this season:
“If we go undefeated it would help our program and would give us a lot of national recognition. I feel like we deserve that type of recognition. We play great and are one of the toughest teams in the nation.”

On the Aztecs winning on the “blue turf” and dominating the Mountain West, and if they are becoming Boise State:
“No, I feel like the Aztecs are becoming San Diego State football. I wouldn’t say we are Boise State. They have a tradition of their own and we are our own tradition. We’re a different type of team than they are.”

On Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington contributing this year:
“I have high expectations for Rashaad Penny and for Juwan Washington. Rashaad can be that guy that Chase Price was last year. Juwan is going to be the guy that Rashaad was last year by coming in motion, getting jet sweeps, blocking off the edge and hopefully helping in our return game as well. “

On if Juwan Washington is as fast as him:
“He’s really fast, but (assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning) Adam Hall has him up to like 190 (pounds) now, so he can’t beat me (laughs).”

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