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SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 9, 2012
Q.¬† What did you make of Colorado State's defense?
COACH LONG:¬† I thought they did a really nice job of confusing the quarterback, because I watched the film, obviously.¬† They played some bracket coverage, which is, I don't know if that's what they always do, because I don't study the other team's defense that much.¬† But I watched what they did they played some bracket coverage, which is very technical, very‑‑ it's hard to teach unless that's what you do all the time.
I'm guessing they must play bracket coverage all the time because they did it pretty well and confused the quarterback.¬† Now Fresno had great success running the ball, so you don't throw it as much.¬† If you have great success running the ball, you don't throw it as much.¬† You don't throw it 50‑something times if you're rushing it for 250 yards.
Q.¬† How do you capitalize on this momentum going into this game?
COACH LONG:¬† The only way you capitalize is to continue to win.
Q.¬† Special challenges that Colorado offers up to you guys?
COACH LONG:¬† All kinds.¬† I think the Colorado State defense has improved every week, and last week they played really well.
On offense, they have a new quarterback.¬† His first start was last week. ¬†The week before that, he played most of the whole game.¬† The starting quarterback went down in the Air Force game early, so he's really played two straight games.
He was much improved last week from when he was in the Air Force game.¬† He had better control of the offense.¬† He spread the ball around.¬† I know they want to run it, and they have a running back that tore us up last year.¬† I think he rushed for 220‑something yards against us last year in that game.¬† He wasn't healthy early in the year, but he started the last two games, so I'm sure he's looking forward to playing against us again.
Q.¬† Are you sticking with the simpler defensive package in practice or are you thinking of adding some stuff?
COACH LONG:¬† No, we're going to try to stay as simple as possible and still give us a chance to win.¬† You can oversimplify things so that the other team knows exactly what you're doing, and they have a much better chance of out‑executing you.
Q.¬† When your team is somewhat hard to define sometimes in terms of being successful in the things that you want them to be.¬† Do you find yourself digging a little deeper into your film sessions and other kinds of things to really just pick out what needs to be done, or do you know and you just go?
COACH LONG:¬† No, I don't know what needs to be done, because we've tried a lot of things over the last few weeks.¬† I've been coaching a long time.¬† It's my experience that when your team struggles, you work much, much, much harder than you do when your team is on a roll.
When your team is on a roll and playing well, you don't change anything.¬† You just keep doing the same thing and hopefully they keep performing at the same level.¬† When you struggle at any part of your game, as a coach, you spend much more time and work much harder trying to figure out something that will give your players a chance to play well.
The guys that are losing work a lot harder than the guys that are winning.
Q.¬† How did Tim Vizzi come to win the punt return job, and what does he contribute in just the intangibles?¬† He seems like a really hard working from the git‑go.¬† What do you think he's contributed?
COACH LONG:¬† Number one, the punt return is determined on who catches the ball best in practice.¬† Return ability, being able to return the ball once you catch it is secondary, because the worst thing can you do is fumble a punt, which we've done, by the way.
But the guy that gets the return punts is the one that catches it the best.¬† If he has the ability to run with it a little bit and the guys on the punt return team can block fairly well, you can get something done.
Now he's a wide receiver, so he does some pretty good things with the ball in his hand.¬† If he caught a pass, it's the same as catching a pass.¬† If you can do something with it afterwards, it's an added bonus.¬† I think other than the one punt he's dropped, I think he's done a pretty good job.¬† Now I also think we had two penalties on punt returns last week.¬† But the punt return team did a great job of blocking last week.
Q.¬† How intrinsically with him ‑‑ is he a kid you've liked from the start?¬† He seems like he has good work ethic.
COACH LONG:¬† Yeah, I think he works hard.¬† This team is a bunch of hard workers.¬† We don't have any‑‑ I don't know what you call them, dogs. ¬†We don't have any loafers.¬† We don't have those guys on this team.¬† If they're like that, they don't last very long.¬† Most of that is peer pressure.
Now we work them really, really hard.¬† Last week when we played so bad and everyone was talking about it, I told you last week we didn't have one kid quit.¬† We didn't have one kid not play hard.¬† We didn't have one kid not running around, trying to do his job.¬† A lot of teams when they're getting beat like that, they quit.¬† We don't have those kind of kids in our program.
You want positives.¬† There is one right there.¬† We're not a pro football team.¬† They're not getting paid.¬† They're working their tails off and they're trying to play as good as they can play, and it's our job to try to give them a chance to play as good as they can play.¬† This is not pro football.
Q.¬† Injuries‑wise, is Gordon going to be back?
COACH LONG:¬† I don't think Japheth Gordon will be back.¬† Colin Lockett will be full speed.¬† Well, he's supposed to be full speed today.¬† Who else did we have?
COACH LONG:¬† Josh Wade should be full speed today.¬† I don't think Japheth will be back.
Q.¬† How long do you expect him to be out?
COACH LONG:¬† Now I'm going to talk like I'm a doctor or something because I don't really understand.¬† He broke the other foot the exact same way last year.¬† It's a genetic issue.¬† This is the doctor talking now.¬† It's a genetic issue that there's really nothing they can do to fix it.¬† It heals on its own, and it's just a matter of being able to handle the pain.
Last year he did it before our bowl game, so he had three weeks to get used to the pain and played in the bowl game.¬† It took him two weeks and he practiced for a week before the bowl game.
Q.¬† How do you feel about (Indiscernible) did in in his place?
COACH LONG:¬† He's productive.¬† He could get a lot better, but he was productive.
Q.¬† How about on the D‑line?¬† Is (Indiscernible) still out?
COACH LONG:¬† He's not back.
Q.¬† In terms of Cody stepping in, what did you think of his performance this week?
COACH LONG:¬† I think Cody has improved.¬† He's improved every week.¬† I thought our defensive line played a little bit better last week.¬† It was not a dramatic improvement, but I thought they played better last week.
Q.¬† In terms of rushing the passer?
COACH LONG:¬† Both.
Q.¬† Is it something you added or was it just playing against a lesser opponent?
COACH LONG:¬† No, I think it was a combination of both.¬† I think they're getting better as the season goes along.¬† The people that we played weren't quite as good.
Q.¬† What about King Holder?¬† Did you see him give a boost to the secondary?
COACH LONG:¬† I think King played well last week.¬† I don't think one game makes you a star.
Q.¬† Given that you lost a four‑year starting quarterback, one of the top rushers in the nation and a good bulk of your offensive line, have you been surprised at all that your offense has been able to keep up the scoring pace the way they have?
COACH LONG:¬† Maybe a little.¬† People forget what coaches say before the season ever starts, and they make their own determination before the season starts and they stay on that kick.¬† Before the season I said our concern was on the offensive line.¬† Our concern was not the running game.¬† Our concern was not receivers.¬† We had much better receivers than we did the year before.
So it was all about one guy playing well, and that was whoever was going to be the starting quarterback.¬† We're running the ball really well.¬† With a young offensive line, we're not protecting the quarterback as good as we should be.¬† We knew that going into the season, the offensive line could struggle at times.¬† I think the biggest surprise to me has been Ryan Katz' ability to scramble and run with the football.¬† I watched him of him at Oregon State.¬† He was okay at scrambling.¬† But he's throwing the ball here like he did at Oregon State, but he's getting a lot more with his feet than I ever thought he would.
Q.¬† When did you first realize this kid can run?
COACH LONG:¬† In spring, they scramble around and they never get hit.¬† So you never know until they actually get into a game.¬† You remember two weeks into fall camp he was making a lot of plays, scrambling around and nobody could hit him.¬† So we stop that.
Any time he scrambled, we blew the whistle, tried to get him to stay in the pocket and throw the ball for the good of the whole team, good of the offense and the defense so the ball was in there.¬† When you hit him in practice, it's hard to tell he's carrying that football.¬† All the quarterbacks look good scrambling around in practice when they never get hit.
Q.¬† Is that a toughness, the fact that he'll scramble and not be afraid to get hit as he's running?
COACH LONG:¬† No, I think it's a belief in athletic ability.¬† There is not a good quarterback in the country that's not afraid of getting hit.¬† I watch those pro quarterbacks.¬† They'll sit in there and take a huge lick to get the pass.¬† The good ones will.¬† The bad ones won't.¬† But the good ones will stick in there and throw a pass and get hit right in the throat just as they're throwing it.¬† So it's not a factor of toughness with good quarterbacks.
Q.¬† As long as he's running the touchdowns, I assume you're okay with it.¬† But do you want him running that much?
COACH LONG:¬† Two of his touchdowns were designed runs.¬† So we wanted them to carry those.¬† We would hope that he doesn't have to scramble as much as he's scrambling.¬† But we also, he's been sacked several times too.¬† So being a former quarterback, I can completely understand why he gets out of there early.¬† If I've been sacked more than any other quarterback in this league, I can understand why he's getting out of there early.
Q.¬† Is there a chance to incorporate more design runs into your offense in the next two games?
COACH LONG:¬† I think it's all determined on how the defense plays.¬† I think the offensive staff did a good job seeing how their defense reacted to certain plays and man coverage.¬† So receivers could take them away from the side we were running that play too.¬† I thought that was a great job of scheming by our offensive staff, and I thought it was a really good job of our offensive kids executing.
We do a lot of good scheming things that you guys don't know anything about because the players don't execute it.
Q.¬† Going back to Ryan running.¬† On those design plays, I think was the first one almost a bootleg the other night?
COACH LONG:¬† Yeah, it was kind of a counterplay.
Q.¬† Yeah.¬† Obviously had huge daylight, but when you're coaching him through that, do you want him to kind of get to the sideline and then just get as many yards as he can so he's close to the sideline?¬† How much do you coach him on getting on the ground?
COACH LONG:¬† That's a good question.¬† First of all, it's no different than the wildcat.¬† It's exactly what they do in the wildcat.¬† Tebow made it famous last year.¬† It's just that our quarterback's doing it instead of a wide receiver or running back taking the shotgun snap.¬† It's the exact same plays they run out of the wildcat.
No, I don't think you teach him to hit the ground.¬† He's not a pure dropback quarterback.¬† If you design running plays for him, he is a running back.¬† So when he carries the football, his job is to get in the hole and make people miss.¬† In fact, the first touchdown, one of the touchdowns that he ran, the free safety had a clean shot at him.¬† Nobody blocked the free safety.¬† The free safety maybe touched him.
I've been trying to explain that on the other side of the ball.¬† That is what's happening in college football is you're getting great athletes in and out space in one‑on‑one situations.¬† The guy carrying the football or catching the football has all the advantages.¬† He can set you up, and he can plant and go where he wants to.¬† The guy trying to tackle him has to react.
So if you have equal athletes out there, the guy with the ball wins every time.¬† That's what happened with their free safety.¬† I'm sure their free safety is really a good player.¬† Ryan stuck a foot in the ground and went the other way, and all he did is lay a hand on his thigh.
Q.¬† Do you see Ryan going to the NFL?
COACH LONG:¬† I don't know how NFL people view him.¬† I know the NFL is going with more and more athletic quarterbacks.¬† The days of the pure dropback quarterback are kind of going by the wayside.¬† They're starting to get quarterback that's can move around and get out of trouble and make plays with their feet.¬† So I think the NFL is always slow reacting to innovations in football.¬† I mean, they stick kind of the proven way for a lot longer than colleges do.¬† Colleges will jump on an idea.¬† If it works, colleges will jump on it quick.¬† The pros kind of mix and match and wait to see if it really works before.¬† Then they pay those guys a hell of a lot more.
I mean, Ryan Katz is on scholarship.¬† I don't know how much he gets, but it's not very much for room and board.¬† In the pros they're paying them a ton of money, so they might not want him to get hit.
Q.¬† If you were an owner or a head coach, would you bring him on?
COACH LONG:¬† Ryan Katz?
COACH LONG:¬† Would totally depend on who else I already had.¬† You want an honest answer, right?
Q.¬† Say you were in need of a good back‑up number two quarterback.
COACH LONG:¬† Probably not.¬† If I needed a third string quarterback, probably, yes.
Q.¬† Hillman's going to return for Monday Night Football.¬† Have you seen him play this year and your advice to him?
COACH LONG:¬† I haven't seen him play.¬† I heard he's played in the last two games.¬† I heard he was on the inactive list.¬† See I'm talking about something I don't know anything about.¬† He was on the roster, but he wasn't playing for a while.¬† But I heard he played in the last two games and played pretty well.¬† So hopefully he continues to play well.¬† I don't have any advice for him.¬† He made his choice.¬† He's there.¬† He's making good money, and I guess he played pretty well in the two games he played.¬† I don't ever get to watch pro football.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports