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November 8, 2014

Rocky Long

IDAHO – 21

COACH LONG:  I think the first thing I'd like to say is I think the coaching staff and the players at Idaho did a great job of coaching and preparing for us, and I thought their players came in well prepared and played with an energy and physicalness that they have not shown on film.  So I think we struggled on defense, especially in the first half, and struggled some on offense on and off.  I think you have to give Idaho credit for that.

Q.  A good win though, right, Rocky?
COACH LONG:  They're all good wins.  It would have made it hard for us to do the things we want to do if we would have lost tonight.

Q.  Coach, how hard was it to game plan for those two quarterbacks this week?  Were you expecting it?
COACH LONG:  It wasn't real hard.  I don't think that we played with the kind of physicalness and the intensity that we played with last week or the week before.  They were‑‑ they did a great job.  Their coaching staff did a great job of preparing them for what we do.  For everything that we've done in the past, they were really good at blocking it.  So they either spent extra time or they were great coaches, and that just proves that just because you have a bad record, doesn't mean you're not a good coach because they did a great job of coaching.
They were ready for everything we did.  We adjusted some at halftime, started doing things that we hadn't done in the first half.  Had much, much, much more success, even though they did kind of control the ball running it.  We had much more success on defense in the second half.

Q.  What were some of the things that you emphasized to your players at halftime?
COACH LONG:  That it was a really good football game.  Whether they expected it to be or not, it was a really good football game and they better have the will to do whatever they needed to do to win, and so they stepped up.

Q.  It was interesting in the second half.  Chalich really didn't run a single play like he did first half.  Was that because of the defensive changes do you think?  He also got drilled by Jake at the end of the first half.  So what do you think?
COACH LONG:  In the second half he still made one play that was unbelievable.  We had a guy come free on a blitz, and he made that guy that was coming completely miss and scrambled around and found a guy down the sideline for about a 40 or 50‑yard touchdown when he should have been sacked.  So I thought he was moving around just fine.
What we did with some of the adjustments was prevent him from doing the zone‑read keep.  When he went back to pass, we were still having a hard time corralling him and getting him on the ground.

Q.  (No microphone) was that the difference?
COACH LONG:  No, whenever a quarterback scrambles out and buys six, seven, eight, nine or ten seconds, the DBs jump people man‑to‑man.  So obviously that guy slipped into an area that nobody was‑‑ we were playing a zone coverage, and that's why I couldn't find anybody to throw it to because he had the ball for so long.  When he had the ball for so long, that guy just slipped back.  Our defensive guy that was supposed to be back there was chasing the guy man‑to‑man, which we teach them to do.  Once the quarterback starts scrambling, you find the guy in your zone and jump man‑to‑man.  We teach them to do that.  So obviously nobody saw him, and he slipped back there and nobody saw him until he caught it.

Q.  How good do you think Jake's play was to get to him on that pass on the third down?
COACH LONG:  I don't know.  I think it was good they reviewed it and decided it wasn't targeting, because I don't think it was.  I think he hit the quarterback right in the chest.  They decided it was roughing the passer, and that is the penalty they called.  I asked them on the sidelines, and they said that he hit him unnecessarily.  That he didn't have to hit him.  So I guess that's the interpretation of the rule.  If you don't have to hit him, don't hit him.  I said, well, what if he had kept the ball?  He said no, no, he had already thrown it and he hit him hard.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH LONG:  I just saw it on the screens in the end zone a little bit.

Q.  Could they actually, beyond the targeting, could they have changed the actual flag via replay?
COACH LONG:  No.  The only thing that is up for interpretation by the guy upstairs is whether it's targeting or not, because targeting he's kicked out of the game.  The roughing the passer, he called roughing the passer and targeting.  So the targeting can be overruled.  The roughing the passer cannot be overruled.

Q.  Is it not targeting because he didn't lower his helmet enough?
COACH LONG:  I don't know why they said it wasn't targeting.  I think, when I saw it, and I just saw it for a second, I thought his face mask was right in the guy's chest which is below his shoulders, which is probably the right call.  If he thought he hit him late, that was probably the right call.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH LONG:  He had a stinger in his neck.  He pinched a nerve so they took him inside and X‑rayed him and he's fine.

Q.  Couple series before that fumble, it looked like he was being tended to on the sideline.  What happened to him?
COACH LONG:  He bruised his shoulder.

Q.  You talked a couple weeks ago about the toughness that pervades this team.  What can you say about the play that Baron made in that front corner especially with Patrick coming off the middle the way he did?
COACH LONG:  Whenever the defense makes a big play on what looks like a scoring drive, it usually shifts the momentum in your team's favor which that did.  It was nice to see him do that.  I mean, it's nice that we made a turnover.  There again, let's give their coaches some credit.  They did a great job of emphasizing not turning the ball over in their practices.  I don't know how they did it, because the week before they turned it over six times.

Q.  Eight times.
COACH LONG:  Okay, eight times.  So obviously they did a great job of convincing quarterbacks not to throw it into coverage, and did a great job with the running backs, teaching them to hold on to it.  Because we were pulling at it and everything.

Q.  Offensively, what was working for you guys tonight?
COACH LONG:  I thought any time Quinn got enough time there were wide open receivers.  But they did a nice job of pressuring the quarterback too.  They had four or five sacks.  I don't know what they had.

Q.  Talk about Eric Judge, is this the kind of game that you were looking for him to have since last year?
COACH LONG:  It's partly scheme.  I mean, we went to an empty formation and they went to straight man coverage.  He beat the guy on the inside route and Quinn put it on the money and Eric's really fast.  Okay?  We can say it's a breakout game for him, but he's probably, I don't know, close to one of the fastest guys on our team.  So him catching that usually means a touchdown.  Someone else would catch that, it might mean a 30 or 40‑yard gain.  But it was a good scheme that the quarterback and the receiver executed.  I also think that having Ezell out there has taken the pressure off of those guys because Ezell stretches, and we even threw him some passes that maybe we shouldn't have.  But the threat of throwing them deep makes those guys get softer too.  That helps the other receivers too.

Q.  Did Quinn to you look sharper than he has?
COACH LONG:  I thought he threw the ball well tonight.  He threw it a lot more like he did last year, it seemed to me.  We had some guys wide open on play‑action pass.  Now the bootlegs didn't work worth a darn.  But some of the play‑action pass inside opened up some receivers wide open behind the linebackers.

Q.  In this final stretch here of three games where you have two of the tougher teams in the conference, that's gotten you guys good games the last couple of years.  How do you assess where your team is right now?
COACH LONG:  We're in a position that if we win all of them we could still maybe win the Western Division.  We're in a position if we win a couple more, we'll get to go to a bowl game.  In my opinion, and this is simply my opinion, in college football today, it doesn't matter who you're playing.  It's how you play.  You know?  I watch TV too.  There are teams that have super talent, and there are people beating them or scaring the heck out of them, just like we got scared tonight.  That happens all across the country.  It happens in the NFL for the same reason.  The talent level is fairly close, and the team that's hot at the time, they've got the best chance to win.  So it really doesn't matter who we're playing.  It's how we play that decides whether we win or lose.

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH LONG:  I heard they're still behind with ten minutes left to go in the fourth quarter or something?

Q.  In the 40s, 40 points?
COACH LONG:  Yeah, that is my point exactly.  I mean, I saw‑‑ I don't know what the final score was, but when I walked out pregame it was 34‑3 Arizona State‑Notre Dame.  How does that happen?  Arizona State that much better than Notre Dame?  They're not.  They're not that much better than Notre Dame.  They just were hot.  What was the final score?

Q.  (No microphone)?
COACH LONG:  See, so it turned into kind of an equal game after that.  So after they were hot early, it balanced out and was a regular game, but it doesn't look like a regular game because Arizona State got really, really hot, and Notre Dame fumbled a few times.  It's amazing how that will change a game where the best team doesn't always win.

Q.  After a game like this, how do you feel about the rest of the schedule?
COACH LONG:  I feel okay because we won.  I thought there was doubt I thought there was doubt all the way up until the fumble.  There was doubt whether we were going to win or not.  So since we won, I feel just fine because it puts us in a position we can still do some things that haven't been done.

Q.  You said he's fine?
COACH LONG:  They said he X‑rayed it, but he's okay.  His neck is a little stiff, but they said he's okay.

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