SDSU Football Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 17, 2017

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SDSU head coach Rocky Long

On the passing of SDSU super fan Tom Ables:
“I’d like to start out by saying that we’re sad to see Tom Ables leave us. I looked up some stats today that I’d like to share with you because it’s pretty amazing. Ninety-one years old, 72 seasons, he saw 788 games and this was the one I was worried about but I know he’s happy because he saw 438 wins, 332 losses and 18 ties. You had to have been going to a lot of football games way back when to see 18 ties now. But he had a winning percentage of about 60 percent or .600. That’s not bad so he’s probably smiling up there because he’s excited to watch the game this weekend. But we’re sad to see him go; He might be the best fan there ever was. He’s for sure one of the best Aztec fans there ever was. We’re going to miss him and hopefully he’ll look over us because we’ve got a very tough game this week. Maybe he’ll give us a little extra push from up there and maybe he’ll get us over the hump.”

On the team’s relationship with Ables:
“Well, we kind of got used to having him around. He was at almost every game. Up until the last year or so, he traveled with us in the airplane so he was around all the time. He was more like a coaching staff member than he was a fan because up until this year he was always on the sidelines, too. Then we started worrying about him getting run over down there and we asked him to move up into the stands once the game started. I’m sure that upset him a little bit, but he did it because he’s a team guy. He’s talked to our team a couple of times and all the veteran players on our team know who he is and are sad to see he’s not going to be around.”

On the messages Ables gave to the team besides being there every game:
“Oh, he didn’t say much except that he was a fan of theirs and wished them the best and to keep fighting, that kind of thing.”

On if the team has thought about having a helmet decal or something on the field to remember him:
“I think that we’re working on appropriate actions for this game right now. I haven’t heard what the final outcome is.”

On the temperature of the team after the first loss of the year:
“Didn’t see them Sunday. We saw them yesterday and they all watched the film together and hopefully they all learned a lot of things from watching the film. But it’s really not anything earth shattering that happened to us. It wasn’t an X and O thing. They [Boise State] played more physical at the line of scrimmage and I don’t think it was a lack of will or want to but they played with a lot better technique which means that they played with a lower pad level and better leverage. When you play with lower pad level and better leverage, you’re able to get off blocks and make tackles. We never overcame that on offense. On defense, our guys played pretty well up front until late in the game when we had to stop them to have a chance to win and we couldn’t stop them. The same thing happened: Their offensive line played with lower pad level and extended and stepped with the right feet and our fundamentals weren’t as good as their fundamentals. What happens is, they are a more physical team because they did it better than we did it.”

On the punishment SDSU junior quarterback Christian Chapman took:
“[Five sacks and 24 hits] is an awful lot of punishment. He’s a competitor though, he’s alright.”

On what the Boise State defensive front did against their young offensive line:
“Well, I think some of it has to do with their techniques. They are older, more mature guys up there than our guys that were trying to block them. That has something to do with it.”

On if Boise State’s front seven was the best he’s seen in a long time:
“No. In fact, I think it’s very comparable – we’ve played a couple now, I think we’ve played three really good front sevens. Now, they played better against us than the other ones did and I don’t know if that was them or if that was us.”

On the injuries plaguing the offensive line:
“I think this time of year, everybody is beat up. I think more veteran players are able to play better when they are not 100 percent healthy because as you get older and more mature, you play that way a lot so you’re able to play at a high level no matter if something hurts or not. When you’re young and it’s the first time you’re kind of hurting, it’s very difficult to be mature enough and tough enough to overcome a slight injury or two and play at a same high level. Veteran guys learn how to do that, NFL guys learn how to do that because they do it forever. Most of the time when you get a freshman or redshirt freshman playing, he’s never been hurt especially when he’s the biggest guy on the field. And all of a sudden you get a little twisted ankle or you get stepped on or you have a sore knee or something and they can’t perform on the same level because they have never learned how to. So, we’re more experienced now on assignments and all that stuff but we’re a very young football team up front when it comes to playing with nicks and bruises.”

On how the team will respond to their first loss:
“I don’t think after watching the film that I have any question in my mind that they are going to try hard. They tried hard last Saturday. I didn’t see anybody give up, I didn’t see anybody quit, I didn’t see any of that so I know they are going to try hard. The level they play at, I don’t have any idea what level they are going to be able to play at.”

On if the stadium was the most electric he’s ever seen:
“It was nice, it’s good to see a big crowd there. It wasn’t overly noisy. I think the Stanford game was just as loud, I think the championship game in 2015 when there were only 26,000 people was just as loud and just as enthusiastic and just as much energy. I mean, it’s nice to see all those people there. I hope they come back. We’ll see what kinds of fans they are. Real good fans come back.”

On the game this weekend against Fresno State:
“I think, personally, I made a mistake about the way I approached last week’s game and it has something to do with young football players. This game is no more important than next week’s game or last week’s game. And I think we approached last week’s game, maybe subtly, but I think we approached last week’s game as more important. And our team did not handle that the right way. So you guys can build it up all you want, this game is important but it’s not going to make or break our season and it’s no more important than next week’s game.”

On how the young players responded to being down 14-0:
“I have some philosophers that I live near and we were talking about the game because they watch, they don’t come, but they watch because they live in my alley. We were talking about the game and they said, ‘if you don’t give up those two touchdowns early, do you know what the score was?’ and I had no idea. 17-14. Going into the game I thought it was going to be a great game. I didn’t know which team was going to win but I thought it would be one of those three point games. The extra points are those two plays. If you get in a three-point game, one play or the other is going to make a huge difference. I didn’t realize it was 17-14 if you don’t count those two plays. We’re talking like it was a blowout but maybe it was a whole lot closer than everyone is giving it credit for.”

On Fresno State and the Bulldogs’ first-year head coach Jeff Tedford:
“I think he and his staff have done a great job coaching because when you watch them on film, those are very talented players that have gotten a new lease on life. It doesn’t mean it’s a better approach; it just means it’s a new approach. They’ve taken to the new approach by the new coaching staff and they’ve had some success and now they’re playing at a high level with a lot of confidence. But when you watch them on film, they’re a very talented football team. You wouldn’t have known that after last year, that they have that kind of talent out there because those players weren’t playing with the same energy or want to that they’re playing with now. They have a new starting quarterback that is playing at a very high level and you don’t win without your quarterback playing well. They have a quarterback that’s playing well so they’re playing at a much higher level. We’re going to get a very confident team coming in here because they’ve won the last three and last week, they won 38-0 which was their second shutout of the season and held a team that rushes for almost 400 yards a game to about 100 yards in that game. They’re coming in with a lot of confidence and a lot of energy and they’ll be very positive. It’s going to be a heck of a football game."

SDSU senior tight end David Wells

On the temperature of the team after the first loss:
“Obviously, we’re disappointed in how we played, especially as an offense. We don’t think we did well at all, all the way across the board. You can say that about everyone. I don’t think I played my best game either and I take a lot of responsibility for that. You can tell a lot of things changed and you could see a fire under some guys. When we went out to practice, there was a lot of energy especially out there on offense and we just wanted to get better. We have to get better if we want to win because we’re facing a good team this week, that’s really it.”

On what they learned from last week’s game to change moving forward:
“I mean, we just got ‘out-physicalled’ the whole game. If you watch the film you can see it, it’s plain and simple to see we weren’t staying on blocks. We didn’t do well in pass protection and we didn’t make plays when we had to in the beginning of the game. We started to get a drive near the end of the game but it was too late at that point. Our defense was worn out because they were on the field for most of the game. Boise controlled the ball and we did not control the clock at all and we didn’t control the pace of the game. It’s something we could definitely work on as a unit, being tough at the line of scrimmage, know what we’re doing every single play and don’t take a play off. It’s partly my fault that it happened as a senior and part of the offensive line. I have to be able to talk to these guys and get them going throughout the week and make sure that they are going and I have to make sure that I back myself up too and I do my job wel,l too.”

On Tom Ables:
“No doubt Tom Ables was a great man. I remember when I first came in, you’re traveling and you see all these people in the front and you ask about him and find out he’s been to over 700 games like a super fan. Then you hear about the accomplishments in his life that he’s done and he was a truly great man. It was an honor to get to know him the past few years and thoughts and prayers go out to his family. That’s really all we can say. He was a huge part of our team and our success throughout the years.”

On being a Fresno area native and facing Fresno State:
“I grew up with a lot of dudes on that team. A few of my high school teammates are over there. Just talking with them throughout the year and asking them how they’re doing, they feel like they have a new lease on life with what they’re doing. There’s a lot of energy going on over there. They’re doing very well. Their only two losses are against Top 10 teams this year. If you look at that aspect of the game, they’re a very good team, they’re physical, they get after it. It seems like once they got their coaching change, they’re doing very well this season. Our entire team needs to be ready to go in this game like we’re playing for first place because that’s what we’re doing, and for us to get back to our goal of winning our 22nd championship, we have to beat these guys. That’s all we’ve got to do.”

SDSU senior safety Trey Lomax

On the temperature of the team after the first loss:
“Just like Dave said, I think our team is pretty optimistic about dealing with the adversity that could make or break a lot of teams so I think our team is ready to bounce back and respond. We know how big this week is and the impact it has on our season so guys are ready to come in and work and get a win this week.”

On if it seems bigger going head-to-head with a team that is tied for first with them:
“You could look at it in that sense but conference games are conference games and you want to win every one of them. As far as the record stuff, you look at it and you know where you’re at and you know what the game means. Each conference game you have to go in with the mentality that it’s a must-win game.”

On Tom Ables:
“He’s been around for however long now and has been to 788 games or something crazy so he was always a special fan for us, he was always on the sidelines cheering us on and supporting us. He was huge. He was a part of Aztec Nation and our fan base knew who he was so it was really sad to hear the news yesterday that he passed away. Thoughts and prayers are to his family but he was something special.”

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