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September 25, 2012

Rocky Long

COACH LONG:¬† Sounds like a broken record but once again, we got an in‑state team that there's a rivalry involved.¬† I think it's a pretty good rivalry between Fresno State and San Diego State that's been going on for a long time.¬† Last year it was renewed and it was a great game.¬† They jumped out on us early and we were able to come out late and win it.
I expect more of the same.  I mean, they are a good football team, got an NFL quarterback, explosive on offense, scored a lot of points and now on defense, they are a little bit different than most.  They run kind of an unusual defense and do a lot of zone blitzing.  So it's going to be important for us to be able to know where the blitzers are coming from and where the holes are in the zones when they blitz people.

Q.¬† Will you have the‑‑
COACH LONG:  That's the trophy that was developed last year, yeah.

Q.  Is that placed prominently this week?
COACH LONG:  It's right in that room right next door there if you want to see what it looks like.

Q.  Is it something, obviously you want to win, but there's more to it because there is a rivalry I guess.
COACH LONG:¬† Well, I think there's an established rivalry between the two schools now.¬† They used to play every year, home and home, and it got to be a big‑time rivalry and then there were several years that the two teams didn't play against each other and it was started up again last year and obviously we are playing this year, and then after this year, I don't know if we'll play Fresno again and I'm not sure Fresno knows if they will play us again.
It's the history of a rivalry, but I don't know if just playing back‑to‑back games has rekindled that rivalry or not.¬† You have to kind of play each other over and over and over again.

Q.  They have several local kids here, Robbie Rouse; he's a tough guy to see behind the line.
COACH LONG:  Yeah, he's a good player.  I remember when I was an assistant coach, the first year that Brady Hoke was here, we tried to recruit him and he chose to go to Fresno State.  He's a very good player.

Q.  Would you call Derek Carr an NFL quarterback?
COACH LONG:  For sure he is.  I don't know exactly where he'll be drafted but I'm guessing he's in the topthree rounds.

Q.  What does he do so well and what are the biggest challenges?
COACH LONG:¬† Well, he does everything well.¬† He's a good athlete that has a tremendous arm and throws the ball accurately.¬† I wish we would play someone that doesn't throw it accurately, but everybody we play seems to complete 70 percent of their passes, and we don't do anything to change their stats, either.¬† But I mean, he's a big guy that's got a strong arm.¬† He's a good athlete.¬† Now, he's not a big‑time scrambler, but he can certainly get out of trouble and buy time with his feet, which he does all the time.
The new offense really lends itself for him to have a great year. ¬†In the past, they have been a pro‑style offense but now they are completely spread.¬† Reminds me a lot of Oregon's offense, so they are the Oregon of the Mountain West Conference.

Q.  How different is it to prepare for spread offense; this year it's completely different I guess?
COACH LONG:  Yeah, you can't even look at last year's film.  The only reason you would look at last year's film is to see the talent level of the guys coming back, to see their skill set.  But the two offenses aren't even close.  You don't use anything from last year to prepare for this game.

Q.¬† You talk about playing similar kinds of things on defense‑‑
COACH LONG:  I said we had to look at the possibility of zone blitzing.  I didn't say we were going to do it a lot.

Q.  Seamus, is he back in this week?
COACH LONG:  As of now, he's back on the team.

Q.  And will he see action this week?
COACH LONG:  That's yet to be determined.

Q.¬† Can you speak to‑‑ since you're not subject to NFL fines, can you speak to what happened last night with the referees?¬† Your thoughts as a coach, as somebody who prepares your team all week, and then literally it's taken out of your hands‑‑
COACH LONG:  I was pretty busy last night, so I didn't watch the game.  All I've heard is what I heard on the radio driving in today, so I don't need to comment on something I just heard on the radio.

Q.  Are you looking at this as kind of a fresh start to the season?
COACH LONG:¬† No, I look at every game the same.¬† Every game is a new challenge.¬† Each week is a new challenge.¬† I don't think you‑‑ and I'm trying to convince our players of this.¬† I don't think you ever put more importance on one game than the other.¬† I think they are all important.¬† Every single game is just as important as the last.¬† And so this is the most important game of the season, and then next week, that will be the most important game of the season, no matter what happens this week.

Q.¬† And how do you feel like the non‑conference schedule prepares you for conference play?
COACH LONG:¬† We've seen a variety of things.¬† I mean, we've seen some triple option.¬† We've seen a lot of spread.¬† We've seen some people try to run the ball at us.¬† So it's been well‑rounded, and you would think that would help you going into conference play.
Now, I have some concerns on defense, because one week we didn't play the spread worth a darn and the next week we played it really good for three quarters and then kind of fell apart in the fourth quarter.  And this week we play a spread team.  So I have some concerns about that.
Now, I also had some concerns about us being able to run the ball last week and we did a nice job of running the ball.  So that's on the positive side.

Q.  So does your team have an identity yet as far as are you guys a running team?  How would you describe your team, basically?
COACH LONG:¬† I think we are a balanced football team, and that's what we want to be.¬† We want to be able to run the ball and use that, to use play‑action pass.¬† I think we are a pretty balanced football team right now.¬† I don't know, I don't keep track of stats, because the only stat that matters is whether you win or lose.
But I think we are pretty‑‑ maybe Mike knows, we are pretty equal, right?

Q.¬† Special teams‑wise, how do you guys try and move forward from the last game?¬† What are some of the things you're working on?
COACH LONG:  Well, we haven't started working on it yet because today is the first day of practice.  We do two segments of the kicking game every other day in practice.  So we kick field goals in PATs every day and then we work on either punt team or punt return and kickoff/kickoff return.  So obviously we are trying to get better.
We haven't made wholesale changes personnel wise.¬† We have made a couple changes personnel‑wise because of the way some of them played in the game and maybe some guys can play a little bit better than that.¬† But it's more about executing better.¬† I mean, both those kickoff returns, there was two guys that could have made the tackle, but they didn't.
Now that gets to be a problem during the year, because you don't want to‑‑ in practice, you don't really want to go full speed.¬† You really don't want people tackling people in practice, because there's always a chance of an injury.¬† So you don't do it much in practice.¬† They just have to get better at it by doing it in the game.
Easy crowd today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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