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October 18, 2014

Rocky Long

Donnel Pumphrey


Q.  We keep asking you every week about D.J., but he continues to be the difference‑maker or a difference‑maker, you'd probably say.  What did you think of this game compared to the other ones?
COACH LONG:  I thought we had more difficulty running the ball because their front seven is pretty good.  I thought the game was over after Pump broke the one where he kept his hand down, kept his balance and went off down there and got as close to the end zone.  He's a talented young guy.  And as long as the big boys up front will block a little bit for him, he'll have good days every week.
And I repeat myself, I know, but the most impressive thing he's not very big but he runs hard.  Runs hard between the tackles and breaks tackles which most guys his size don't do.  I'm glad he does.

Q.  What did you see on that run the one you just talked about?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Honestly, it was like a broken play.  And I just had to keep my balance, I guess.  And there was green on the other side of the field and I hit it.
COACH LONG:  Most great running backs don't know how it happened.  It's just natural.  They react.  They don't know how it happened.

Q.  It's fun when you get to see‑‑
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Yeah, I can't wait to watch film.

Q.  Your daughter was here?

Q.  How does that feel to have her in the stands?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  It was emotional at the beginning of the game, but I'm glad she was able to come.

Q.  Her first game here?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  Yeah, her first game.

Q.  Did that give you any extra push to have the game you did?
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  It's always a motivation.  But I'm just happy with the win.

Q.  (Question off microphone)
DONNEL PUMPHREY:  No, that was just a selfish‑‑ that was selfish on my end.  I shouldn't have pushed him.  It's my fault.

Q.  (Question off microphone)
COACH LONG:  I thought Quinn threw with velocity and he obviously threw‑‑ we had a touchdown pass, so he threw it a long way, too.  I think his arm strength is there.  I think it's probably sore, but I think his arm strength is there.
What I saw was him not as accurate as he normally is.  And that's because we really watched the reps he gets in practice.
So hopefully since we have a bye week he'll get completely healthy and then he can take a normal starter's reps in practice and he'll get back to throwing the ball on the target more often.

Q.  The fact that he was able to come back and play through this the last couple of weeks?
COACH LONG:  I think it's impressive whenever a player comes back earlier than people think that they should.  Now, I'm going to brag about the players in our program.  Our players want to play.
There are programs that guys will make an injury a reason they don't have to play.  And they don't try to get back real fast.  There are programs like that.
Our program, our kids are tough kids and they want to play football and we have a bunch of them out there playing with injuries.  That's just the way it is this time of year.  And if they won't play with injuries then you won't have a very good football team.

Q.  Marcus Dempsey got a couple of carries.  In the earlier week you said you only had reps for two guys (indiscernible)?
COACH LONG:  There were certain plays designed for him if we got into a certain situation.  And we got into that situation and he got the ball and he did good things with it when he did.

Q.  Nice first carry?
COACH LONG:  Very nice first carry.

Q.  Do you expect to see more of him or (indiscernible) a specific package?
COACH LONG:  I don't know if there's enough carries for three great running backs.  And we're not going to take carries away from Pump, and we're not going to take carries away from Chase Price.  But it's nice to know we have another really good running back back there if something happened.

Q.  What was so special about that situation?
COACH LONG:  I don't remember exactly.  I think it was third and three or four, and we went to a three wide receiver set.  We knew what kind of formation, defense they would be in.  He's a strong runner between the tackles.  If all we had to do was get a hat on a hat, he could break arm tackles.  I don't think he had to break an arm tackle because the offensive line blocked it so well.  But he was in there to break arm tackles and get a first down on, I think it was third and three or third and four.

Q.  (Indiscernible), the pass, the DBs put it in the air‑‑ are there specific drills you guys do in practice where you focus on (indiscernible).
COACH LONG:  Yeah, we work on Hail Mary every week.  Our offense throws two of them and we have our first and second defense out there.  That was not a Hail Mary situation.  That was not the last play of the half.
I mean, I think it was second and long and there was still plenty of time left on the clock so that they could move the ball down the field if they completed some balls.  They decided to throw it up.
So it wasn't a Hail Mary defense.  If it was a Hail Mary defense, they wouldn't have caught it.  The problem was our defensive backs tried to catch it underhanded like a punt returner instead of going up and getting the ball.  That's why it happened.  Now, hopefully they learned because the two interceptions they went up and got the ball.

Q.  Just the fact that the running game has been so successful, how much does that really kind of take the pressure off‑‑ especially your passing game, coming back from the injury hasn't really worked as well as you guys would like to?
COACH LONG:  It always helps the quarterback if you can run the ball.  And it will help Quinn more as he gets back into great shape, because the receivers will be more wide open if we can run the ball.

Q.  Can you talk about the way your defense has played overall the last few weeks?
COACH LONG:  I think the last two weeks our defense has played really well.  I was mad at them at halftime because I thought we could have played better and obviously we gave up the long pass at the end of the half.  I only remember one drive and they eventually had to kick a field goal.  So they're playing really well.  We're going to play against some better offenses down the road, though.

Q.  (Question off microphone)
COACH LONG:  It looked like he played okay.  I'm going to have to watch the film to know if he played okay.  But he didn't reinjure himself.  And I'm guessing he played 15 to 20 plays.
I don't know exactly.  But it seems like he was out there that much.  And that really helps, just like Quinn getting healthy will help.  (Indiscernible) being healthy will help.  Ruffin will hopefully play in the next game, that will really help.
And don't know about Jake Feely yet.  But maybe Jake Feely gets to play in the next game.  We don't know that yet.  We think he's that well.

Q.  (Question off microphone)
COACH LONG:  He practiced‑‑ he was like Quinn.  He practiced all week except we limited the number of reps he took.

Q.  (Question off microphone).
COACH LONG:  I said he did not reinjure himself.

Q.  (Question off microphone)
COACH LONG:  Yeah, Cameron Kelly got hurt.  I don't know exactly what he did.  But he didn't play anymore.  And he was limping off the field.  He got blocked from behind.

Q.  Adam Roberts?
COACH LONG:  Adam Roberts had concussion symptoms.  I didn't say he had a concussion.  Make sure I didn't say that.  He had concussion symptoms.

Q.  (Indiscernible) helmet?
COACH LONG:  Whenever the trainer and doctor say he shouldn't play, we take his helmet away.  That's exactly right.

Q.  (Indiscernible) Fresno State which helped going into this bye what do you think of your position right now, the offense?
COACH LONG:  Obviously we wish we would have won every game.  But the way I read it, we're on top of the Western Division of the Mountain West Conference.  That's a whole lot better than anybody else in the Western Division of the Mountain West Conference.

Q.  You had talked about the (indiscernible) and eight, nine weeks in.  This is going to be a better football team.  Do you see the progression toward what your vision of that is?
COACH LONG:  The number one objective is to win.  And we won tonight.  I don't think we can play like we did tonight and win the championship.  We're going to have to be‑‑ we're going to have to play better than we did tonight to win the Mountain West Conference.  And so obviously we've got to get better.  We're not where we need to be.  We've got to get better.

Q.  Did you guys struggle against Hardings sort of style of kicking?
COACH LONG:  I guess we did.  Everybody does.  Everybody that plays against him.  If you would have watched the game last week, Wyoming, they forced‑‑ when he punted they all ran off the field.  They didn't try to catch it.  They didn't try to run it back.  They didn't try to do anything.  They jogged off the field as soon as he kicked it because they got hit three times last year.  We got hit once last year.
We tried three guys back there to try to catch the ball and we dropped it.  We were there to catch it and we dropped it.

Q.  What makes it so hard about his ball, the way he kicks it?
COACH LONG:  He kicks it sideways, doesn't spiral, doesn't go end over end, goes crazy like a curve ball in baseball.

Q.  To your point, being better than you were tonight, what do you most need to improve on in these next games coming up?
COACH LONG:  You want the whole list?

Q.  Yeah.
COACH LONG:  Gotta cover kickoffs better, punt better, catch the ball better, throw it better.  We've gotta rush the passer better when we only rush four guys.  We can't give up Hail Mary passes.  Want me to keep going?

Q.  A lot to work on?
COACH LONG:  Lots to work on.

Q.  (Question off microphone)
COACH LONG:  That was the plan.  We put three guys back there so it wouldn't hit the ground and roll.  Because you saw later on we took all those guys out of there and kept the defense out there.
And Warren hit on about the 30 and rolled down to about the 8.  We were trying to prevent the roll.  But I guess it wasn't a very good idea since he dropped it.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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