"We didn't play very well last week, so our emphasis is playing better this week. We play a team (South Alabama) that is a much more talented team than anybody in San Diego probably realizes. They were a bowl team last year. They have quite a few players coming back on offense, not too many on defense, but they also picked up nine players from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, which dropped its football program and UAB was a bowl team last year as well. The starting quarterback (Cody Clements) for South Alabama this year was the starting quarterback for UAB last year, so he's a very experienced guy and he's a pretty good player. They've got good speed at the skill positions and they're pretty good up front, too. They're not real big, but they're pretty good up front."
On South Alabama's defense:
"The defense is a little small on the defensive line, but they play a lot of man coverage which allows you to put nine or ten guys close to the line of scrimmage."
On wide receiver coach Hunkie Cooper's comments addressing the need for SDSU receivers to be better in one-on-one battles:
"I think that's been one of our issues in the first two games. People are willing to play man coverage which allows them to get nine or ten guys closer to the line of scrimmage, and the only way you can back them off is having someone out wide. One of the wide receivers has to beat someone man-to-man so that you can throw some passes and score long touchdown plays and all of the sudden the defenses backs off a bit and you can pop a run or two. It's real simple. You put nine or ten guys up there close, someone has got to get burned on a deep throw. They're going to continue to do it until they think it's not worth it."
On whether or not experience is a factor in the receiving group's inability to make those plays:
"There's an inexperience factor to it. I think that, especially last week, the defensive backs covering them were pretty good players, too. You have to give the other side of the ball some credit every once in a while. The defensive backs that were covering them were pretty good players."
On the frustration levels of the SDSU defense in the second half:
"There are a lot of ways to view that. Number one, we had three personal foul penalties on defense, two of them (were) the wrong call. They should have been offsetting penalties. Both of those kids got clipped in the back after the play was dead and they retaliated and they're the ones that got caught, so that's one way to look at it. The other way it look at it is that last year Cal averaged right at 500 yards per game and they averaged right at 39 points per game, and with almost every single guy back on offense. I think we held them to less than that in both categories. So the point is that if we're only going to score seven points, we've got to play much better defense than we did. If we can score a few more touchdowns, that would've been a pretty good defensive effort. You can look at it any way you want to, positively or negatively. I always look at it positively. I can look at it in a positive way like a head coach does, or I can look at it in a negative way like a defensive coordinator does. The defensive coordinator in me says `We've got to hold them to seven points. We played lousy defense. We played terrible defense because we didn't hold their score down.' If I'm a head coach that's not involved with the defense, I'm saying `We've got to score more points, but the defense played okay." Look at it any way you want to look at it."
On his postgame comments regarding the poor coaching performance from the staff:
"We had 14 penalties (12 accepted). That's way too many penalties. We had five on defense and nine on offense. We had three legitimate personal foul penalties. I believe that is coaching. I believe that we haven't, and we have emphasized it but they haven't listened, that those types of penalties make it very difficult to win the game and we've got to get that across. I think (tactically) we did a fine job as coaches. I think (tactically) we did a lot of things that were good against what they did against us on both sides of the ball. Our special teams played extremely well. They should have had a lot of longer kickoff returns than they did. Our kids on those teams did a great job. But I think it's a coaching error when you have 14 penalties. We actually had five personal foul penalties, three of them were legit. Every once in a while you'll get one, but not three in one game. We haven't taught them well enough, we haven't coached them well enough, we haven't emphasized it well enough. We emphasized it a bunch yesterday, so hopefully they understand it helps prevent us from winning a game and they won't do it anymore."
On how long he thinks the developmental process for a college quarterback should take:
"I have no idea. What we're struggling with, and it might make us change our offense eventually, is evaluating quarterbacks out of high school because most high school quarterbacks run a spread-type offense and you have no idea how they're going to develop in a pro-style offense. So I don't know how long you would expect it to take for them to develop. The NFL is having the exact same issue. The top-two quarterbacks picked this year in the draft were out of spread teams. One of them just had a great day, and one of them was absolutely horrible. You can continue to fight it, or you can join up. That's one of my biggest dilemmas right now. We can't join up this year, but we can join up next year and run the same offense and then we'd probably have a better chance to evaluate quarterbacks. In this day and age in football, if you're not willing to run the triple-option and your quarterback doesn't play well, your chances of winning go way down. If you have an efficient quarterback and you play good defense, you can still win. But if you don't have a good defense you need a great quarterback to win, and there are very few great quarterbacks in this world."
On whether or not he was pleased with the running game against Cal:
"I thought that if it wasn't for the penalties, then everybody would've been happy with the running game on Saturday. I was not the first week because I didn't think the offensive line blocked well enough and we didn't get enough plays out of the running game. Last week we got good production out of the running game. Now, one hundred and thirty-something yards of it were called back, but the offensive line did a much better job and the running backs were able to display some of their talents. We hope that it continues to get better."
On if he thinks Jake Fely is playing more like he did prior to his string of injuries:
"I think the first two games he's played a lot like the old Jake. I just read the statistics, I don't know that for sure because we don't keep that ourselves, but I think he had a 10-tackle game against Cal. I think he's playing more like he did before he had his series of injuries, which is good for us. We're very lucky that our two veteran linebackers are really really good players. Our young backups have a ways to go and our one new linebacker this year has a ways to go, but the two veterans are playing really well."
On the play of the backup linebackers:
"Ryan Dunn and Randy Ricks are alternating. They're improving as we go. That's my positive take on it. We even had a veteran, and I'm not going to name any names, but we had a veteran who shocked the heck out of me and made an assignment error and gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass the other day. Players make assignment errors, they do at all levels. We threw a touchdown pass and there wasn't a guy within 20 yards of our tight end- I don't think Cal designed its defense that way."
On Jake Fely's emotional leadership qualities:
"We have a couple guys in the secondary like this, too, but the two linebackers are emotional leaders, and they're the guys that call the formations and get everybody lined up and both of those guys, Calvin Munson is the other one, do a really good job of that. "
On his team's ability to respond well after a loss:
"People a lot of times don't realize that how teams come back from hard defeats, hard losses, or adversity of any kind has a lot to do with how the team leadership reacts and how they take it and how they proceed from there. I've been on teams where leaders of the team were depressed the whole next week and guess what? One loss makes another loss. This group is probably upset and depressed that something happened to them that they didn't think would happen to them, but I think that they're going to get over it and move on and get ready to play the next game. That's the way it's been the last four years here, not that we won't lose another one- I hope we don't, but there's a chance that we'll lose another one and we'll have to do this again. It'd be really nice if we didn't, especially for me."
On the quarterback situation:
"Maxwell Smith is our starting quarterback. Last week, alternating quarterbacks was pre-determined before we went into the game because we wanted to watch them both and make a decision. Now, we have enough confidence in Christian Chapman that if Maxwell Smith is struggling and we need a spark or a change of momentum, Christian might go in and play. Maxwell is the starter and as long as he is playing well and things are going good, he'll be out there until we win the game."
On catching the ball in the first quarter of last week's game against Cal:
"It was a great play call by (Associate Head) Coach (Jeff) Horton. He set it up. They ran a cover four defense and we ranked corners to get the safeties out. We had a tackle where I usually am. It was a great play call. The safeties went out just like we had anticipated they would. I was wide open in the middle and all Maxwell (Smith) had to do was throw me the ball. All of the guys executed it well."
On if he runs the tackle over often:
"Not usually. It's a game plan thing depending on what we want to do. I think that was the second time since I've been here that we've ran it."
On the team's penalties last Saturday vs. Cal:
"We've addressed it and we're going to move on and learn from it. We just have to play smarter football."
On recovering from Saturday's loss:
"I think Sunday was our day to be ticked off. As soon as Sunday was over, we put it behind us and our focus was on South Alabama. That (Cal) game is over with and we know we have to play smarter. We're going to go out and practice today to make sure we limit all mistakes."
On the leadership out on the field:
"We've got a lot of guys who have played before and a lot of experienced guys who step up in times like these, which is huge. I know J.J. (Whittaker) and Jake (Fely) are guys that have been around the program for a while and always step up. They always get us going and get us fired up. It's always good to get to come home to play another game and get back on track."
On preparing for South Alabama:
"South Alabama is a little different than the two teams we've played so far. USD and Cal weren't huge pressure teams and South Alabama is going to bring a lot of pressure. Thankfully our defense is a huge pressure team too and we see it a lot. We'll have to see how South Alabama is going to play against our different formations. They're a good team, a physical team and they're going to bring a lot of pressure on special teams and on offense. We have to be ready and play smart. When they bring that much pressure, you have to account for every guy and know where they're coming from. It's going to be big seeing what all the different blitzes are going to bring and what we can do against it."
On if the passing game clicks this week:
"I think you hope for that every week. (Donnel) Pumphrey is a great player so if he can get past that first line, past those blitzers, he can go for a long time. I think the run and pass will be big. We just have to make sure we block every guy and make sure we can get there blitz blocked up."
On penalties during the game against Cal:
"That many penalties in one game is unacceptable. The coaches let us know about it and we're working on it."
"I had two personal foul penalties and that was completely unacceptable. It's an emotional game, but you can't let the emotions get the best of you. You have to keep yourself under control at all times."
On the defense's efforts improving:
"It's hard to tell because sometimes we do good all-around and sometimes we do bad. I know communication is strong and we communicate very well to each other across the board to make sure we're on the same page. It's all about execution. We didn't execute it very well last week. The score tells it all. We need to get the ball rolling on defense and just be good at everything."
On adjusting without sophomore defensive back Trey Lomax:
"Cameron (Kelly) is a great player, but not having Trey (Lomax) is something (different) for me. Trey and I are like brothers on the field. We have certain communication things, certain looks we give each other. We don't have to talk to each other. Not having him on the field is like missing a heartbeat. Trey is very important to this defense."
On senior linebacker Jake Fely playing this year versus last year:
"I think Jake (Fely) is playing great. He's finding routes and making plays. He's been better than last year, when he was not sure if he was going to play the whole game. Now that he's sure and we're sure that he's going to play the whole game, he's leading us and making sure we do what we have to do."
On what Jake Fely brings to the team:
"The communication is better (when Jake Fely is out on the field). He starts us off and is very vocal. You hear him and see him. He is a great communicator. Once we come off the field, if something went wrong, he wants to sit down and talk about it. He's a great leader who makes sure that we're all on the same page. Having him out there is a great bonus."
On hearing about Jake Fely before coming to San Diego State:
"Coming in, I knew who he was. When I was a senior in high school and would watch the games, I would see him fly around and be making plays. When I got here, I can see how hard he works. He works harder than most of the people that I've been around. Jake is a real competitor. He flies around during practice and they say what you do in practice is what you're going to do in the game. I see now why he's so successful at what he's doing."