SDSU Football News Conference Quotes

Oct. 30, 2012

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Rocky Long

Opening statement:

Obviously, we got quite a challenge ahead of us this week. We're playing against one of the better programs in the country and one of the best teams in the country, probably in the elite status if you look nationwide. So it's quite a challenge.

Q. If the Aztecs win this game, would you consider it their best win in history? Would this be up there?

I don't have any idea. I haven't been here long enough to know that.

Q. Well, you're playing against a top 20 team for first place this late in the season. Since you've been here, would it be your biggest win?

Probably. Since I've been here, probably.

Q. And Rocky, have you seen anything from their season opening loss to Michigan State or maybe even their game against New Mexico where they came pretty close to knocking them off that you can maybe exploit?

No. I don't see any weaknesses that they have. I think the first game of the year everybody was feeling their way. They had a brand new quarterback. So I think they were probably feeling their way a little bit in the first game. Since that time they haven't lost a game. So I'd say that they figured out what was wrong that first game, if anything. Maybe Michigan State was just the better team that day.

Q. You said earlier in camp you guys did some two a days on the blue turf. I guess after practicing on the blue turf, what made you change your mind about blue on blue?

I always had this impression that it made a difference, and we practiced on it. We didn't practice two a days. We practiced on it one time for two hours and we scrimmaged a little bit and everything, and I asked all the players, and the players didn't think it made one bit of difference. And after I was out there for two and a half hours in a practice setting rather than a game setting, I didn't think it made any difference either.

Q. So you guys weren't wearing blue; right?

No. We weren't wearing blue, no.

Q. What was the response to that, by the way, trying to get rid of the blue on blue?

I don't know. I mean somebody thinks I had something to do with that. I had absolutely nothing to do with that. If I had that kind of pull on getting things done, I'd do a lot of other things besides that.

Q. Does that mean you guys are not practicing on that blue turf again this week?


Q. Talk about what a win against Boise State would do for this program.

I don't want to talk about that.

Q. Rocky, Coach Petersen has built a reputation for himself as a very innovative coach, a coach who takes risks, I think probably most notably in the Fiesta Bowl in 2007. Seems like something you appreciate, just the invasion and the risk taking. Can you talk about your thoughts on just his coaching style?

I think he's obviously one of the best coaches in the country, and I don't know how many risks he takes. I mean every risk he takes is probably calculated. But they do do some things that are different than most people, and they take some chances that most people don't. But I think that's all him establishing his program to be one of the elite programs in the country because he's not going to get the traditional vote. He's not going to get the schools that have been traditionally powerful. He's not getting that vote, so he has to do things a little bit different to get the national exposure and national recognition that they deserve.

Q. Coach, is it more difficult to sort of game plan against this team's offense because they do have a certain number of trick plays in there?

No, not really. You can practice trick plays till you're blue in the face, you're probably not going to get the one they run. Because every week they have a different trick play or two, I'm sure. And so if you see a trick play on film, you can practice against that one, but that's not the one you're going to see in the game. So it's kind of a waste of time. You just have to be alert and on your game and react accordingly. If you're really alert and do your assignments, trick plays don't normally work, but a lot of them do work because it's something that you haven't practiced against.

Q. And you said that you don't see any weaknesses in Boise State. How do you prepare for something like that?

You don't worry about Boise State. You worry about yourself. You worry about your team being as prepared as they can be and practice as hard as they can and go in and play the game, find out what happens. You don't worry about the other team. You worry about your team.

Q. What do you have to do particularly well this week against Boise State?

I think the same thing that we've done to win games to this point. On defense we have to keep them under control so they don't score a lot of points or run off and leave us. And on offense, we got to be able to run the ball and not turn the ball over and consistently make yardage and score a few points.

Q. Rocky, back to Coach Petersen real quick, I asked him a question about you earlier today, and he says that some of your schemes, they're just really hard to copy and all coaches are copycats and it's hard for him to really duplicate what you're doing, no matter how much he watches it on tape. What about watching him? Is there anything you've learned from him, trying to incorporate into your own offense or defense based on something he's done?

I learn something from every coach that we watch film (on).

Q. What in particular?

I'll give you one. They line up in what we call `swing and gape', but they line up in 14 different formations for the extra point. And if you don't line up correctly, they run it in there for two points. If you line up correctly, then they all come back in there and they kick the extra point. And out of all the games they've played there's been 13 different formations that they've been in for extra points. So there's one. We can line up against every one of those, which we will in practice, and then they'll give us a new one come Saturday.

Q. Just one more they haven't used yet?

I don't know how many of them have been used. I don't know how many he's got. They do the same thing on their punt team. They line up, I think up to 20 now. I think there are 20 variations on how they line up on punt. So obviously you got to spend a lot of time in practice making sure that you're lined up correctly so they can't run those fakes on the extra point or they can't run it in for two points or they can't fake a punt and get a first down. So you practice against the 20 punt formations they have and then you practice against the 12 extra point formations they have and then they'll give you a new one on Saturday.

Q. And Coach, last week did you kind of simplify the offensive play book with it being Adam Dingwell's first start or was that not an issue?

No. The game plan was exactly the same with Adam as it would have been with Ryan (Katz).

Q. Talk about playing for first place this late in the season against a top quality team.

I think our team feels good about being in that position this late in the year, that we still have a chance to play for a championship because that's the No. 1 goal in this program is to win a championship and if you're not in the position to play for one, obviously you can't win it. So I think our team's pretty happy about that, but we also realize how good the team is that we're playing, and they've won several championships. So we know the challenge ahead of us, but it's really nice to be in the position to be playing for one.

Q. And is this kind of like a budding rivalry, with especially both of you guys going to the Big East?

That's been asked a couple of times this week already. I don't know if it is or not, but it would make sense that it would become that way. Since we're the two teams furthest west in the Big East. But to develop a rivalry, the competition has to be good. And to this point we have not played at the level of Boise State. And we haven't been competitive in games that we've played against them. We haven't been competitive, so it's not a rivalry yet. Until we can compete on an equal basis or make the game really close, you don't have a rivalry.

Q. Does it help that you did play them last year, I know it was with a bunch of different kids, but you did play them last year, so you've seen some of the things firsthand what they do on offense and defense?

I think they're a lot different this year than they were last year.

Q. What are some of the main differences that you see?

I think they're concentrating on running the ball a little bit more this year than they did last year. And they're giving us some formations this year that they didn't give us last year. That's one of the reasons they're a good program and he's a good coach because he takes whoever his 22 best players are on offense and defense and develops the program around his best players. So you don't get the same thing every year, because he's going to change it to use his players' ability to their highest level. And they have a new quarterback. Now he's not new because he's been starting for however many games, but they have a different quarterback this year, so they structured the offense differently. They have, I think, nine new starters on defense. Even though they're a lot better on defense this year than they were last year, they have nine new starters or something on defense and you sure can't tell. But they're doing a few things a little bit different than they did last year on defense, too. That's a smart coach.

Q. Could you talk about being bowl eligible and just the progress of the past three years for this program?

I think it's exciting for our program to be bowl eligible three years in a row. I've been told that's something new around here. Hopefully that becomes commonplace that we're bowl eligible every year. And then we can start trying to win some championships, but it's exciting to be bowl eligible. And it's a funny deal, you get bowl eligible and you start looking at projections and all that. And it looks like they're worried about not having enough teams. So I'm sure happy that we're going to be one of them.

Q. And could you talk about the significance of beating Navy in your first bowl game? Do you think that has any significance to the progression of this program?

I think any time you play a good opponent and win a bowl game, because you're always going to get a good team when you play in a bowl game, that helps, helps develop your program because it helps recruiting and national notoriety and all those things that helps the program. I don't necessarily think a bowl game helps your team because you're still playing a lot of seniors, and if you really want to help your team, you'd tell the seniors to sit on the bench and play all underclassmen. But I think it helps your program because it helps recruiting.

Q. Coach, you have a lot of underclassmen starting this year. Speak of the job they've done in nine games, the fact that you guys are where you're at with as few seniors as you have starting.

I think that bodes well for the future. I think it makes us excited about the future because we have a lot of guys coming back. I counted the other day, I think we're going to have 23 seniors on next year's team. And when you have that many seniors and a lot of them are better players, that gets you excited about next year, but we gotta finish this year first.

Q. And Coach, before the season started you said with the team being so young it's going to take a while for them to gel and start playing their best. Have you seen that yet?

I think we're playing much better now than we did early in the season. Have we played our best yet? No, I don't think we've played our best yet and we better this week. If we don't play our best this week, it could be embarrassing.


Q. Coach said you guys practiced on the blue turf in the off season or in camp. Is there a difference at all?

Josh Wade: No. I didn't see any difference, just different color. It didn't affect anything, and a lot of guys felt good after the practice. And we realized it was no big deal, just another field to go play on.

Q. Do you guys feel like you've played your best football yet this season?

Josh Wade: I don't think so. I don't think we've like put everything together in a full game as far as offense, defense and special teams. So it's a lot of potential still there for us to improve and we know that. We just come out every week and try to execute and do our job a little bit better and play for one another.

Q. Josh, is this your biggest regular season game in the past four years since you've been here at San Diego State?

Josh Wade: It's a big game in the sense we got a chance to play for a conference championship. We're still in the running for it. But we've been in important games before. Every game you take as a challenge and you go out and try to win it. So it's a big game, but it's nothing out of the ordinary, and we're just happy we got a chance to play for this conference championship and still in the battle for it. We want to go out and put a full football game together.

Q. Is it tougher to prepare for a team that you know likes to run some trick plays on offense?

Josh Wade: You always got to keep that in the back of your mind. And if you know it's coming, it could be a little better. So we should be able to have good eyes and make our reads and know that something's going to come at us eventually during the course of the game through their tendencies. So it's kind of good that we know they like to do that kind of thing.

Q. Rocky was saying in addition to the trick plays and stuff, he was just talking about extra point formations and they have 13 different ones. Just watching tape and trying to prepare for this team, how are they different than previous opponents? How much more difficult is it?

Josh Wade: Coach will come out and he'll try to simplify it for us as best he can. Today is still early in the week. We still got to get the game plan, but I'm sure coach has probably been watching a lot of film, trying to figure out the best positions to put us in. And we're going to go out and make sure we're focused in the sense that we know we're going to get a lot of different looks and some things maybe we haven't seen before. So we got to be able to see them and read it and play fast.

Q. Alec, what does the offense have to do to succeed against this defense? They're like top 10 in pass efficiency defense. What do you guys have to do going into this week?

Alec Johnson: Run the ball. Our offense has to run the ball. If we execute up there and up front and our backs run hard, hopefully we'll get some yards and set up (the) play action game. Sets up everything we do on offense. So we want to sustain drives and keep our defense off the field and hopefully put up points. They're a good defense. We haven't put our game plan in yet, but I've seen a little bit of film and they're definitely good on that side of the ball.

Q. It looked to me like the last couple of games Adam Muema kind of got off to a slow start this past game and the game before that as well. Does it help you guys to have two guys who seem to be able to feed off each other, when one is not running as well?

Alec Johnson: Definitely they complement each other, and that's big. Definitely helps our offense. If one guy has a slow game, the other one can pick it up and they work well together and it's definitely good for us as an offense.

Q. You said they're good on the defensive side of the ball. What about it that you've seen makes them look good on the defensive side of the ball?

Alec Johnson: They're solid. D-line's good. Linebackers are real good and the secondary is good. They're a good unit overall. Nothing really stands out. They're just sound defensively. So we're going to need to execute.

Q. And Josh, last year the game was pretty much over in the first quarter of your guys' game against Boise State. What's real key to make sure that doesn't happen this time out?

Josh Wade: We got to play great defense, force some turnovers and put our offense in really good positions to score and don't let them have any big plays. Like you said, with the trick plays they like to do, we can't let any of those get out behind us, and we got to be able to stop the run. If they get that run game going, it's going to open up play action pass and some more fake plays possibly. We just got to be on top of our game and stay really focused because they're a good team. We know they're going to play well and we go to execute and play better than they do.

Q. Alec, what progress did you see from Adam Dingwell last weekend in his first start?

Alec Johnson: A week of preparation helped him. He didn't get thrown in the fire. He's progressing. I think this week he'll progress more. Just getting used to throwing to different receivers in practice, and I think he'll do well.

Q. We've asked a lot of different players about what kind of quarterback he's like. A lot of people think he's just tough. What is it about him that makes everyone say the kid is just tough?

Alec Johnson: Just watching him play around here for a while. In practice when the quarterbacks are live, he'll try to run some people over. He just has that mentality, just go out there and sling it. And I guess that would be the only way to describe him.

Q. Josh, Chris Petersen for Boise State was saying that he'd love to be able to take your defense and be able to copy it because coaches are such copycats, but it's really difficult for him to do it. He can't just do it on tape. Can you talk about or just explain how much time it took to acclimate and for you to get it, because there's some complicated schemes. How much of an adjustment or how long did it take for it to finally set in?

Josh Wade: Yeah, it took a while. It can be very complicated, but when you actually understand the unit of the whole defense together and where you place as part of the defense, it gets very simple. We do a lot of different things and guys are all over the field. So it can be tough in the beginning, but once you get it, it all makes sense.

Q. What were the first couple weeks like?

Josh Wade: It was tough. My head was spinning. I'm lining up in all kind of wrong spots and after a while, just repetition and you see it over and over again. The coaches do a really good job of explaining it. Coach Long, he knows it like the back of his hand, and he does a really good job of teaching it to the guys. So once you get it, you get the ball rolling.

Q. How does it feel to be bowl eligible for a third consecutive year?

Alec Johnson: Feels good. It's not our main goal as a team. It's nice to have that, but we want to win a conference championship, and that's our No. 1 goal. And it's good to still be in that hunt, but there's some work to be done. Josh Wade: Yeah. Like Alec was saying, it feels good to have that accomplishment, again, of bowl eligible. But we got a bigger goal still in front of us and that's being champions of the Mountain West Conference. So we're going to attack this and try to play as hard as we can.

Q. Big theme this season seems like week in, week out you guys have said this is the most important game of the season every week. But with you guys practicing back on the blue field in training camp, has this kind of been in the back of your mind ever since the start of the season?

Josh Wade: We knew that they would be a good team. They've been playing really well, so we knew it would be a challenge to play them. But like you said, we've been taking every game as the most important game. It's one game at a time. And right now it is Boise week, so we're preparing for them. They're the most important game right now. Last week it was UNLV, week before that it was Nevada. So taking it one week at a time, and that's how we've been successful at this point, we just focus on who we're playing and not getting ahead of ourselves.

Q. Marcus Andrews had that really nice tip at the end of the first half of the last game. What did you guys say in the locker room after that?

Josh Wade: I was hyped. I was on the field when he did it. It was a big football play for us. If he hadn't broke that up, the guy behind him probably would have caught the ball. So it was a huge play for us. I felt like it carried some momentum into the locker room, and we came out and was able to play good defense in the second half as well.

Q. What are his strengths as part of your defense?

Josh Wade: Marcus is really good. He has really long arms, (is a) big defensive back. He's been playing well. He's been having good eyes and playing really good man coverage for us.

Q. Could you guys talk about just the hype and excitement as this season goes along? Not a lot of people put you guys in this position, and now to be in this position, just talk about the progress with the hype and all the excitement in the locker room?

Josh Wade: It's been very exciting. As we've been going on and we've been winning more and more games lately, we're very excited. We've been putting up a lot of points and defense has been getting a lot better. Earlier in the season, we were struggling a little bit with the pass defense. Last couple games, we've been doing really well in the passing game and running game for the most part. And it's been feeling really good. Got a lot of momentum going into the rest of the season, and it's going to be exciting.

Q. Adam, how important was it to get that first start down last weekend going into this big game?

Adam Dingwell: It was important. It was fun. Like I said earlier in the week, I think I made myself more nervous during the week than I actually was when the game came around. But it was fun to get out there, get the first one out of the way (and) come away with a win. I'm just excited to get back to work this week.

Q. And what's your mindset heading into practice this week?

Adam Dingwell: Got to get better at a lot of things (and) in a lot of areas. Myself personally and as an offensive unit, we got to be better. But it's about us and controlling the ball and making plays when we need to and putting points on the board to help our defense out.

Q. In which ways do you feel like you can get better?

Adam Dingwell: Ball security. That's the main thing. We preach that all around. I didn't do well enough at that. So that's just the main thing I'm going to concentrate on this week and some footwork things. You can always get better. There are always little things to pick at.

Q. I saw you sort of like nodding when you said ball security is something you guys are working on. What are you personally doing in terms of your ball security issues after the last game?

Adam Muema: Probably basically focus on high and tight. Think ball. But nothing much different.

Q. Adam, talk about that running game. It's been the key for you guys' success all season long.

Adam Muema: It feels good. Walter Kazee and I just switch off when one gets tired, and it's hard for defenses to adjust to that. So it does a great job of throwing the defense off track.

Q. And talk about just how you guys feed off each other.

Adam Muema: Our goals exactly are just to score every time we get the ball. And we just try to capitalize on every drive.

Q. As fans of football, seeing what Boise State has done, not just with their success, but with their innovation, their schemes, their trick plays over the past three years, how much do you guys just appreciate that just as fans?

Adam Dingwell: I honestly haven't watched Boise State as a fan in a long time. They got a good team over there, but it's really not about them, their trick plays and whatever they do. It's about us, playing the best we can possibly play to go out there and win.

Q. They're a little bit different than your typical team, though, just in terms of style of play.

Adam Dingwell: Yeah, I guess you could say that. I haven't really looked into it that way. I'm just kind of watching the film, see how they play on defense (and) go out there. We're going to win the game, try to win the game however we want to as an offense.

Q. Adam, talk about what's going through your head right now. I mean you weren't the starter the whole season. Now you're put in this situation and now you're playing possibly the biggest game in Aztec regular season history?

Adam Dingwell: Nothing different. It's another football game. It's no more important than the last one. It's no more important than the one after it. This is a game that's next on our schedule and we have to do what we can as a team to go out there and win.

Q. Talk about the opportunity of playing in this environment.

Adam Dingwell: It's going to be fun, but every football game is fun. Every football game is exciting. It's a great opportunity for myself to go out there and show what I can do to everybody there watching and my teammates. It's exciting to watch them play beside me as well.

Q. Adam, against Nevada a couple of weeks ago it looked like you kind of struggled to get some momentum going. When you look back to that game, did you have like a momentum issue or what do you think it was?

Adam Muema: I'm not sure. It possibly could be Walter Kazee had a better game. I'm not even worried about that game. I'm moving on.

Q. I mean last year against Boise State you had a really good game. You had a lot of yardage. Talk about how important it is for you guys to be able to start and establish the ground game early this week, especially because their defense is really good against the pass.

Adam Muema: It's as important as every week. Seeing if we beat Boise and lose the next game, that doesn't mean anything. So we just have to go out and prepare every week and do what we can to win.

Q. Adam, when did you learn to keep your legs moving as a running back? How long have you practiced that ability and how comfortable do you feel doing that? I mean you get hit, you're in a pile with ten guys. It seems like that pile is still moving forward.

Adam Muema: I don't know. I honestly really never knew that. I practice it, but it's just something that all coaches told me I did, so it just happened.

Q. You look at Boise's defense last year, you had a lot of success against them. Is their defense this year different? Coach Long keeps saying that it's almost like they're better than they were last year on defense?

Adam Muema: That's something I don't know about yet. We're about to watch film after this. We'll figure it out.

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