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November 29, 2014

Rocky Long


COACH LONG:  I'm ready if you are.

Q.  How happy are you finishing off the season with two straight fairly dominant wins at home?
COACH LONG:  Well, I'm really happy, especially for our senior class, that we're going to get to play in another game.  Really happy.  I'm happy for the program because it's going to be our fifth straight Bowl game, which is sometimes people will say that's not‑‑ no big deal, but I've been coaching a long time, and guess what, it is a big deal.
It doesn't matter where we go, even though we would love to stay home.  Maybe they wouldn't, but I'd love to stay home.  Because I think it's a classy Bowl, and I think they do everything for the team and the players.  It's really first class because we've been there a couple years ago, and it's as nice a Bowl game as I've ever been to.  We'd love to stay home if they would have us.  But we'd love to play in Boise next weekend too.

Q.  The other thing today is you secured a winning record for the 11th straight season.  How big is that for this program?
COACH LONG:  I think it's a big deal whenever you have a winning record, yes.  I think that's a big deal.  I think that our number one goal in this program is to win a conference championship, and our chances of getting to compete for that aren't very good.  I mean, I'll be honest.  It's not very good.  But if it happens, it will be really fun to do it.
So we're a little disappointed that we didn't win some close games that would have given us a chance to win the conference championship, but we're awful happy that we've qualified for a fifth straight Bowl game and, as you say, a fifth year of a winning record.

Q.  Are you disappointed that you didn't get the shutout?
COACH LONG:  You know, Steph, I heard you ask that question, and you ought to be a coach.  You should.  You should be a coach because I think I told Jim after the game, how can you be unhappy when you won 38‑7?  Yeah, I was disappointed we didn't get the shutout, but that's a really bad personality trait.
And for you to ask it, I think maybe you should have been a coach because that's a bad personality of a coach, when you win 38‑7 and something's wrong.  That's ridiculous.  As soon as I get out to the parking lot, my wife will tell me that, how stupid I was.

Q.  Coach, 44 carries between Price and Pumphrey today and only 16 passes.  Was that the game plan or just taking what they were giving you?
COACH LONG:  I think we were running the ball so well, it was easy to keep handing it to them.  And we didn't throw it very well.  We had some open receivers.  We didn't throw it very well.  It was good we were able to run the ball that well.

Q.  When D.J. is having the kind of game he's having, Rocky, is there any thought to not doing the rotation and just letting that guy go?  And I ask that because, to get him a little bit more maybe on the national spotlight, to get him a 300‑yard game, maybe he gets a little more play.
COACH LONG:  Well, I heard the way he answered the questions up here, and I'm totally with him.  This is a team game.  We don't worry about individual awards.  If they come, they come.  And one of the reasons he is running so well in the 12th game of the season is he's been alternating all year long.  If you let him carry the ball too much, by this time of the year, he'll be so beat up, he won't be able to carry it at all.
I'm sure, as a program, we'd love to have some national recognition, but we're never going to worry about that over the team as a whole and what's best for the team.

Q.  Do you think, Rocky, because of all the late night games, box scores don't get in the newspapers, the whole thing, the thing that kind of works, in general, against you guys sometimes‑‑ do you think it's worked against him a little bit too this season?
COACH LONG:  No, I don't think so because I think what's worked against him is the guys that are gaining 400 yards in a game.  I mean, one week a guy breaks the record and runs 400 and‑‑ I'm going to guess now.  416 yards in a game.  And the very next weekend, a guy runs for 460 in a game.  I would say that has a little more to do with it than playing late night.  If you're rushing for‑‑ how much did he rush for?  260‑something yards today.  That's a darn good day.  I mean, that's a great day.  It's a really good day.  But some guy might have rushed for 400 today.  I don't know.

Q.  He was on pace to get 600.
COACH LONG:  Yeah, we're back to the he might not have made it through the game if we kept handing it to him that much.

Q.  Rocky, back when you guys were 5‑5 with a lot of kind of gut‑wrenching losses, what did you tell your team at that point, knowing you have these last two home games?
COACH LONG:  Well, now, sometimes you get tired of me saying this, but we have unbelievable kids in our program.  I've coached all over the place, and our players are such that, if you just tell them the truth, they react the proper way.  If you try to blow smoke, they know you're full of it, and they don't act the right way.  So we just tell them the truth.
At 5‑5, we had to win a couple more games to make sure we were in a Bowl game, and we had to keep winning in order to have a chance to maybe play in the championship game.  We never overstate anything.  We never get too excited when things go right, and we never get too down when things go wrong.  I think our team represents that same we never get too up, we never get too down, we just keep playing and hope for best.

Q.  Coach, the offensive line seems to be a real consistent group this season, especially in terms of running the ball.  Can you talk aboutthe job they've done. 
COACH LONG:  I think what's most amazing about this is that they're‑‑ since the first two weeks of the season, everybody is stacking their defense to stop the run.  And in order to still be able to run that well, you have to have good running backs, which we do, but good running backs don't show up unless somebody's blocking.
I think I said this right at the start of the year.  I was disappointed in the offensive line because, guess what, we're big, we're strong, we're athletic.  They ought to be blocking like that.  There's some big, strong, athletic lines that don't block that well, but when you have that kind of size and talent on the offensive line, if they don't block that well, that's a coaching issue.  That's not a player issue.  That's a coaching issue.
Now, if we weren't big and strong and athletic up there, I'd say, I don't know what they're‑‑ I don't know how they're doing it, but they're plenty capable of doing what they're doing right now.

Q.  Coach, is there a difference in the mindset you guys took with this game compared to last year against UNLV where a similar situation, you needed to win to get in a Bowl game?
COACH LONG:  I think that's a great question.  I think we had a totally different mindset.  Last year we went into the UNLV game with seven wins, and the folks thought we were already out of the conference race because Fresno was undefeated.  We didn't have a chance to win a conference championship last year, and they already thought they were guaranteed a Bowl game.  So I think we went into that game with a little completely different attitude than we went in today because they knew we had to win seven to go into a Bowl game today.  I think last year they thought it was already done.

Q.  [ No microphone ]?
COACH LONG:  No, I think it's hard on offensive linemen for pass protection purposes when everybody is standing up.  Especially as many guys as we alternate in there, they don't necessarily know who the linebackers are and who the defensive linemen are, and they're all about the same size anyway.  And it's not like pro football, when they have a small roster where those offensive linemen could point out where the D‑linemen are and point out where the linebackers are because they know all their names and numbers.
In college football, if they're standing next to each other and they're similar size, they don't know which one is the defensive lineman and which one is the linebacker.  So sometimes you can get a one‑on‑one situation and still drop linebackers out of there for coverage.

Q.  You were saying, if they're in the right spot, they're going to go out there and [indiscernible].  What's the style?  Is there some kind of form to it?  It seems like it's kind of random.
COACH LONG:  No, it's not random.  It's supposed to look random.  I'm glad you saw it that way.  Hopefully, it looks random to the offense.  That's the idea.  To the offensive linemen and the guys that are protecting to the quarterback, hopefully, it looks random to them so they don't know how to slide their protections or man their protections, and you get some guys on the edge of blockers that gives them a little better chance to put pressure on the quarterback.  That's the whole idea.
I'm glad you thought it looked random.  No, those guys have particular places to stand, and they have particular assignments.

Q.  While you don't put a lot of stock in individual records, what would it mean for D.J. to get the SDSU all time single season rushing record given the names that have come through this program in that position?
COACH LONG:  I think it would be great for him individually to be listed in that kind of category with the great running backs that have gone through this school.  I think that would be great for him personally.  I think it would be good for the program as a whole, that we were able to recruit players that somebody could break that record.
And as we said earlier, it's not just him.  I mean, he's an outstanding running back, but he wouldn't have those kind of yards if the big guys up front weren't blocking well.  So it's a testament to everybody involved.  It's a testament to the program that we recruited well.  It's a testament to the players that are in the program that he could break that record.  And then, obviously, it's a good deal for him.  And then hopefully, we can recruit someone that could break it.

Q.  What's the mindset moving forward regardless of what happens tonight?
COACH LONG:  Well, the mindset will be completely different.  If Hawaii can somehow beat Fresno, the mindset will be completely different starting Tuesday than if it's the other way around because, if it's the other way around, we only get so many practices before a Bowl game, and you have to organize it.  Sometimes this is a bad thing for me as a coach, but I consider a Bowl game a reward for having a good season.
So our practices aren't the same type practices as when we get ready to play a regular season game.  And obviously, if we're playing in the championship game, those will be very intense, hard practices, where a lot of Bowl practices are not.

Q.  How much energy do you get going to a Bowl game the fifth straight year?
COACH LONG:  I think that's the best part of going to a Bowl game.  The players that are‑‑ the older players that have played a lot, they get a little bit of reward, and they don't practice quite as long, and the players that have been scout teams and all that, they get to practice really hard and develop their skills.  It's the best thing for a program to be in a Bowl game.  It's obviously the best thing for a football program to get into a Bowl game.

Q.  [ No microphone ].  Lucky came to San Diego State to play running back.  Probably didn't pan out as you hoped for, but what was it like seeing him get that?
COACH LONG:  I think that's another sign of what our team's like and the players in our program.  He transferred here, obviously, because he wanted to play more.  He wanted to carry the ball more.  And what happened is, when he got here, he found out that there was a couple, three other really good running backs here.  So his chances of carrying the football weren't very good.
Then a young man can handle that two different ways.  He can pout, he can cry, he could leave, he could be frustrated.  Now, Lucky, what he did was say, how can I help?  And he practiced hard every day in practice, and he's on every single special team, and that's why the team was so excited when he got in the game and scored a touchdown because he's a good guy.  He's a team guy.
90 percent of our football team is good guys and team guys.  Most football teams are not like that.  I hate to say that, but they're not like that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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