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


October 30, 2012

Rocky Long

COACH LONG:  This is obviously ‑‑ we got quite a challenge ahead of us this week.  We're playing against one of the better programs in the country and one of the best teams in the country, probably in the elite status if you look nationwide.  So it's quite a challenge.

Q.  If the Aztecs win this game, would you consider it their best win in history?  Would this be up there?
COACH LONG:  I don't have any idea.  I haven't been here long enough to know that.

Q.  Well, you're playing against a top 20 team for first place this late in the season.  Since you've been here, would it be your biggest win?
COACH LONG:  Probably.  Since I've been here, probably.

Q.  And Rocky, have you seen anything from their season‑opening loss to Michigan State or maybe even their game against New Mexico where they came pretty close to knocking them off that you can maybe exploit?
COACH LONG:  No.  I don't see any weaknesses that they have.  I think the first game of the year everybody was feeling their way.  They had a brand new quarterback.  So I think they were probably feeling their way a little bit in the first game.
Since that time they haven't lost a game.  So I'd say that they figured out what was wrong that first game, if anything.  Maybe Michigan State was just the better team that day.

Q.  You said earlier in camp you guys did some two‑a‑days on the blue turf.  I guess after practicing on the blue turf, what made you change your mind about blue‑on‑blue?
COACH LONG:  I always had this impression that it made a difference, and we practiced on it.  We didn't practice two‑a‑days.  We practiced on it one time for two hours and we scrimmaged a little bit and everything, and I asked all the players, and the players didn't think it made one bit of difference.  And after I was out there for two‑and‑a‑half hours in a practice setting rather than a game setting, I didn't think it made any difference either.

Q.  So you guys weren't wearing blue; right?
COACH LONG:  No.  We weren't wearing blue, no.

Q.  What was the response to that, by the way, trying to get rid of the blue‑on‑blue?  Was it met with any ‑‑
COACH LONG:  I don't know.  I mean somebody thinks I had something to do with that.  I had absolutely nothing to do with that.  If I had that kind of pull on getting things done, I'd do a lot of other things besides that.

Q.  Does that mean you guys are not practicing on that blue turf again this week?

Q.  Talk about what a win against Boise State would do for this program.
COACH LONG:  I don't want to talk about that.

Q.  Rocky, Coach Petersen has built a reputation for himself as a very innovative coach, a coach who takes risks, I think probably most notably in the Fiesta Bowl in 2007.  Seems like something you appreciate, just the invasion and the risk taking.  Can you talk about your thoughts on just his coaching style?
COACH LONG:  I think he's obviously one of the best coaches in the country, and I don't know how many risks he takes.  I mean every risk he takes is probably calculated.  But they do do some things that are different than most people, and they take some chances that most people don't.  But I think that's all him establishing his program to be one of the elite programs in the country because he's not going to get the traditional vote.  He's not going to get the schools that have been traditionally powerful.  He's not getting that vote, so he has to do things a little bit different to get the national exposure and national recognition that they deserve.

Q.  Coach, is it more difficult to sort of game plan against this team's offense because they do have a certain number of trick plays in there?
COACH LONG:  No, not really.  I mean you're not going to ‑‑ you can practice trick plays till you're blue in the face.  You're probably not going to get the one they run, I mean because every week they have a different trick play or two, I'm sure.  And so if you see a trick play on film, you can practice against that one, but that's not the one you're going to see in the game, so it's kind of a waste of time.  You just have to be alert and on your game and react accordingly.
If you're really alert and do your assignments, trick plays don't normally work, but a lot of them do work because it's something that you haven't practiced against.

Q.  And you said that you don't see any weaknesses in Boise State.  How do you prepare for something like that?
COACH LONG:  You don't worry about Boise State.  You worry about yourself.  You worry about your team being as prepared as they can be and practice as hard as they can and go in and play the game, find out what happens.  You don't worry about the other team.  You worry about your team.

Q.  What do you have to do particularly well this week against Boise State?
COACH LONG:  I think the same thing that we've done to win games to this point.  On defense we have to keep them under control so they don't score a lot of points or run off and leave us.  And on offense we gotta be able to run the ball and not turn the ball over and consistently make yardage and score a few points.

Q.  Rocky, back to Coach Petersen real quick, I asked him a question about you earlier today, and he says that some of your schemes, they're just really hard to copy and all coaches are copycats and it's hard for him to really duplicate what you're doing, no matter how much he watches it on tape.  What about watching him?  Is there anything you've learned from him, trying to incorporate into your own offense or defense based on something he's done?
COACH LONG:  I learn something from every coach we watch film.

Q.  What in particular?
COACH LONG:  I'll give you one.  They line in what we call swing and gape, but they line up in 14 different formations for the extra point.  And if you don't line up correctly, they run it in there for two points.  If you line up correctly, then they all come back in there and they kick the extra point.  And out of all the games they've played there's been 13 different formations that they've been in for extra points.
So there's one.  I mean that's hard to ‑‑ we can line up against every one of those which we will in practice and then they'll give us a new one come Saturday.

Q.  Just one more they haven't used yet?
COACH LONG:  I don't know how many of them have been used.  I don't know how many he's got.  They do the same thing on their punt team.  They line up in about ‑‑ I think up to 20 now.  I think there's 20 variations on how they line up on punt.  So obviously you gotta spend a lot of time in practice making sure that you're lined up correctly so they can't run those fakes on the extra point or they can't run it in for two points or they can't fake a punt and get a first down.
So you practice against every ‑‑ you practice against the 20‑punt formations they have and you practice against the 12 extra point formations they have and then they'll give you a new one on Saturday.

Q.  And Coach, last week did you kind of simplify the offensive play book with it being Adam Dingwell's first start or was that not an issue?
COACH LONG:  No.  The game plan was exactly the same with Adam as it would have been with Ryan.

Q.  Talk about playing for first place this late in the season against a top‑quality team.
COACH LONG:  I think our team feels good about being in that position this late in the year, that we still have a chance to play for a championship because that's the No. 1 goal in this program is to win a championship and if you're not in the position to play for one, obviously you can't win it.
So I think our team's pretty happy about that, but we also realize how good the team is that we're playing, and they've won several championships.  So we know the challenge ahead of us, but it's really nice to be in the position to be playing for one.

Q.  And is this kind of like a budding rivalry, with especially both of you guys going to the Big East?
COACH LONG:  That's been asked a couple of times this week already.  I don't know if it is or not, but it would make sense that it would become that way since we're the two teams furthest west in the Big East.  Did I say that correctly, because I had to think about that.
But to develop a rivalry, the competition has to be good.  And to this point we have not played at the level of Boise State.  And we haven't been competitive in games that we've played against them.  We haven't been competitive.  So it's not a rivalry yet.  Until we can compete on an equal basis or make the game really, really close, you don't have a rivalry.

Q.  Does it help that you did play them last year, I know it was with a bunch of different kids, but you did play them last year, so you've seen some of the things firsthand what they do on offense and defense?
COACH LONG:  I think they're a lot different this year than they were last year.

Q.  What are some of the main differences that you see?
COACH LONG:  I think they're concentrating on running the ball a little bit more this year than they did last year.  And they're giving us some formations this year that they didn't give us last year.  I mean that's one of the reasons they're a good program and he's a good coach because he takes whoever his 22 best players are on offense and defense and develops the program around his best players.
So you don't get the same thing every year, because he's going to change it to use his players' ability to their highest level.  So every time ‑‑ and they have a new quarterback.  Now he's not new because he's been starting for however many games, but they have a different quarterback this year, so they structured the offense differently.
They have, I think, nine new starters on defense.  Even though they're a lot better on defense this year than they were last year, they have nine new starters or something on defense and you sure can't tell.  But they're doing a few things a little bit different than they did last year on defense, too.  That's a smart coach.

Q.  Could you talk about being bowl eligible and just the progress of the past three years for this program?
COACH LONG:  I think it's exciting for our program to be bowl eligible three years in a row.  I've been told that's something new around here.  Hopefully that becomes commonplace that we're bowl eligible every year.  And then we can start trying to win some championships, but it's exciting to be bowl eligible.
And it's funny, you get bowl eligible and you start looking at projections and all that.  And it looks like they're worried about not having enough teams.  So I'm sure happy that we're going to be one of them.

Q.  And could you talk about the significance of beating Navy in your first bowl game?  Do you think that has any significance to the progression of this program?
COACH LONG:  Well, I think any time you play a good opponent and win a bowl game, because you're always going to get a good team when you play in a bowl game, that helps, helps develop your program because it helps recruiting and national notoriety and all those things that helps the program.
I don't necessarily think a bowl game helps your team because you're still playing a lot of seniors, and if you really want to help your team, you'd tell the seniors to sit on the bench and play all underclassmen.  But I think it helps your program because it helps recruiting.

Q.  Coach, you have a lot of underclassmen starting this year.  What does that say ‑‑ speak of the job they've done in nine games, the fact that you guys are where you're at with as few seniors as you have starting.
COACH LONG:  Well, I think that bodes well for the future.  I think it makes us excited about the future because we have a lot of guys coming back.  I counted the other day, I think we're going to have 23 seniors on next year's team.  And when you have that many seniors and a lot of them are better players, that gets you excited about next year, but we gotta finish this year first.

Q.  And Coach, before the season started you said with the team being so young it's going to take a while for them to gel and start playing their best.  Have you seen that yet?
COACH LONG:  I think we're playing much better now than we did early in the season.  Have we played our best yet.  No, I don't think we've played our best yet and we better this week.  If we don't play our best this week, it could be embarrassing.

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