home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


September 11, 2012

Rocky Long

COACH LONG:  Appreciate you all coming.  This game reminds me of how nervous I was for the first game last year.  This team makes me really, really nervous.  If you look at a team that's scored 55 points so far in their total offense, averages 527 yards a game.  They had a brand‑new quarterback that started his first game last week.  He threw six touchdown passes and threw for 294 yards.  They've thrown for ten touchdown passes already this season.  Last year they threw for 12 the entire season.
All you have to do is go back here and look at their size.  I'll give it to you really quick.  It might be the biggest offensive line we play against.  Their left tackle is 6'5", 312.  Their left guard is 6'6", 293.  Their center is 6'4", 302.  Their right guard is 6'8", 342, their right tackle is 6"8', 304, and their tight end is 6'4", 270.
Not only that, they have one of the fastest receivers we've seen on film.  His name's Hardin.  I'll give you his number too.  He's about as fast as anybody we've ever played against around here.  Greg Hardin, number 84, that leads their division in yardage per game.  He caught two passes, 1 for 66 yards and one for a touchdown.  The other one was 34 yards for a touchdown just in the last game.  So on the schedule, it doesn't look like much, but in reality, it's scary.

Q.  How different is this?  Game planning last week against Army, and turning around a game plan offense like this, how much of it switches out for your defense in particular?
COACH LONG:  That's the biggest difficulty we have on defense.  You go from a spread type team, which Washington is kind of a spread type team.  Then you play a triple option team in Army, and now you're playing a team that is very similar to us.  They run similar formations.  They run similar personnel groups.
So they get into a pro set sometimes and run power plays and play‑action pass, and sometimes they put four wide receivers in there and run the spread.
So they're the most diverse team we've played so far, but it's really hard coming off a triple option weekend to something else.  But that happens every time we play a triple option team.

Q.  Does it make it help that they're so similar because your defense is used to seeing a lot of stuff?
COACH LONG:  We haven't seen them for two weeks.  We've been working on nothing but scout team for two weeks we haven't really gone against our offense.  It doesn't do our offense any good to go against us either because our defense is completely different than their defense.

Q.  Speaking of defense, can you evaluate how far along the defense is this season that you've been happy with?
COACH LONG:  Well, I've been happy with the last six quarters that they've played, all but one series of downs in Army.  That's as good as I've ever had a team play against the triple option.  There was one series in the second half that we looked like the old days where they had about five or six plays and scored so fast it was amazing.  But other than that series, that is the best I've ever had a defense play against the triple option, because you know my feeling about the triple option.

Q.  What would you attribute that to?
COACH LONG:  I think they just played really hard.  Now someone said we looked fast, and I think that's‑‑ I don't think we're any faster than we were last year or the year before.  I think what they did is get to the linebacker and secondary position.  They feel very comfortable in our defensive scheme, so maybe they're reacting a little quicker than they have in the past.

Q.  Obviously success breeds confidence, and it's only one game.  But did you kind of see your young guys grow up a little bit in that game half the week?
COACH LONG:  Well, I thought our offensive line, that's where we're worried about the young guys.  I thought they played much, much better in the first game.  I thought our defensive line played a lot better in the first game too.  But now they're doing something completely different because of the offense.  We'll see how they hold up.  You know, we're not very big.  Now that's by design.  I'm not complaining.  That's by design because as many spread teams and throwing teams as you play now, you're looking for quickness and speed at the defensive line.
These guys have a different attitude.  They're gigantic.  Their fullbacks‑‑ they have two fullbacks that are 245 pounds too.  So these guys get to you and say, okay, we're just going to run over you.

Q.  How do you avoid a situation like apparently they got at Portland State, and it pretty much became a shootout?  How do you make sure that doesn't happen?
COACH LONG:  I don't know if you can do that.  I mean, you go into every game to try to shut somebody down and slow things down.  But every game there is a possibility that a quarterback's going to get hot or a running back is going to get hot.  You're going to have trouble slowing them down.  It turns into can you outscore them or not?
Now hopefully we can slow them down a little better than the first two teams did, because they didn't slow them down at all.  The other thing is they haven't turned the ball over yet either.  They've caused some turnovers, but they haven't turned the ball over themselves.
Then they have a real tendency in special teams.  They've proven that they're one of the best block teams in the history of college football.  Last year they set a league record and blocked ten kicks.  The first game they didn't block any.  Last game they blocked three.  They blocked two field goals and one punt against Portland State.
I don't know what they're doing different than other people do, but they have a great ability to block kicks.

Q.  Does that concern you with your hitting situation?
COACH LONG:  Well, it concerns me with the protection of our kickers and punters.  I mean, you can't make it if it gets blocked, for sure.  So far our punt protection has been pretty good, but they're going to put it to a test.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned how the first teams in the season have a different offensive philosophy ask schemes.  Was that by design to give your team all sorts of different offensive looks?
COACH LONG:  No, I think the schedule was decided long before this year.  Now I actually think it's as good a preseason or non‑conference schedule as you can have because of that because it gives you a chance to prepare for the conference.
Obviously, our number one goal is to win the conference championship, and it gives you a chance to prepare for the conference.  I think if everybody's paying attention on how well NorthDakota's been playing and how well San Jose State's been playing the last two games makes it really good preparing us for our conference play.

Q.  You don't take into consideration the opponents they've played the first couple of weeks?
COACH LONG:  You always take that into consideration.  But to score 55 points a game and gain over 500 yards a game, you can't do that against a scout team.

Q.  Can you speak to the progression of Nat Berhe and your defense, and made the transition last year from Warrior to Aztec?  Thoughts on how he's done?
COACH LONG:  I think he's a good player.  I think he's one of the better defensive backs in our league.  Now I say that, and it's nice to see his production in the first two games because that position is designed for him to make a lot of plays.  That is the way in our defense that position is designed.  I mean, you're supposed to have a really good player that makes a lot of tackles.  It didn't surprise me at all that he made 14 tackles against Army, because when you play that kind of offense, that guy should make double digit tackles.  He's the one guy they should have trouble blocking.
So I think he's getting better as we go.  He'll just get better as the season goes along.

Q.  Does it take a particular mindset and a particular mind to play that position?
COACH LONG:  Yes, it takes some physical ability too.  You have to have enough speed and quickness to be like a DB.  You have to have enough toughness to be like a linebacker.  But the mentality is he should want to make every tackle.  There are very few guys in this world that actually think that way.  I want to make every tackle.  I think we have two guys on our team now that do that.
I think Jake Fely wants to make every tackle.  He wants to make every single tackle, and that's getting more like that.

Q.  But you've seen him have to arrive at that?
COACH LONG:  Yeah, I think he's had to learn that.  Because I don't think he's been put in a position where we rely on him that much.  I don't think in any defense anybody relies on that position more than we do in our defense.

Q.  What do you see from their quarterback Hendrickson?  He had a breakout game first start of the season.  What do you see from him?
COACH LONG:  He played first game they had a starter that was a transfer from, I think, NorthCarolina, either that or SouthCarolina.  NorthCarolina.  They had a transfer who was left‑handed that would have been just fine with us because our scout team quarterback is left‑handed.
But he got hurt in the first game right before halftime and Hendrickson came in.  I think he completed about 60% of his passes from then to the end of the game too.  I've got the stats here.  Last week he threw six touchdown passes.  Now some of that is Hardin.  Some of that is the receiver.  Because a couple of them, he just threw them up deep and Hardin went and outraced everybody to the ball and went 66 yards for the touchdown and things like that.
So any time a quarterback has a good day, a lot of it has to do with the guys he's throwing to.  They also have two red shirt freshmen receivers that are 6'4", and 6'3".  The 6'3" guy weighs 233 pounds.  So at the receivers I'm saying this, and everybody's saying it's NorthDakota.  I'm saying this, and their receivers are a tough match‑up for us because of the height of the young guys and the speed of Hardin.
Hardin is as fast as anybody we've played against in the last two years.  I just was watching last year's TCU game to try to get a feel for it because TCU has wide receivers like this guy.  It's the same thing.  It's very similar.

Q.  How do you, I guess, on the scout team who will play Hardin?  How do you prepare for that?
COACH LONG:  We've got two young guys.  They're not as fast as he is.  Eric Judge is from San Diego High, and Lloyd Mills is from Arizona.  They're little guys, but they both run fast.  Last year we had Ezell Ruffin.  It was great for our scout team.  Not good for our team because he should have been playing, but great for our scout team.

Q.  You guys established the run well at the beginning of the game against Army.  Do you plan on doing that to keep the offense off the field?
COACH LONG:  That's our plan every week.  I mean, some teams won't let you establish the run, but you'd like to establish the run because if you can run the ball, it opens up everything else.

Q.  Coach, you said after the game that one of the best things about the game was the fans.  How important is it to fill up a stadium because it's not on TV?
COACH LONG:  Well, it's always important to get the home‑field advantage.  If nobody shows up, you don't have home‑field advantage.  I was most impressed with the student section last week.  That is the most students we've ever had at a game, I think.  The four years I've been here, that was by far the most students we've had at a game.  Like I said after the game, they even stayed through most of the third quarter.
Someone told me that's because the game started at 4:30.  If the game had started at 7:00, they'd have been out of there by halftime.  But this game starts at 5:00.  So hopefully the students will show back up and they'll have a good time through the third quarter.  But I was impressed with the student section especially.

Q.  You get to take a peek at Miles Burris last night?
COACH LONG:  I did.  I watched a little bit of it.  He played pretty well, made a lot of tackles.  I noticed they were taking him out on third down situations.  They took him out when it was a passing situation and put a nickel back in for him.  I think I caught him on a couple of special teams,  the kickoff team or the punt team.
I don't know if you want to be on the punt team when you get a punt block.  But I hope it wasn't his fault.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297