Arizona have begun preparations for Saturday’s trip to Utah, the start of a 2-game road trip that will see them face two more ranked opponents after facing two in October.
Before fully diving into the Utes, however, the AU coach Jedd Fisch looked back Saturday 45-37 loss at home to No. 10 USC and discussed various other topics during his Monday press conference:
About the USC movie: “No real surprises. I would say the outcome of the game really comes down to us having five possessions in the red zone and scoring three touchdowns and scoring two field goals. They had five positions in the red zone and scored five touchdowns, and that’s an 8-point swing and that was an 8-point final. We have to find a way to score all the times we’re out there, which would be five touchdowns in this scenario, and the maintain on three touchdowns and two on the ground and then we would have won by eight We have to be able, these one-score plays, we have to start turning them over I think our guys have continued to be competitive, continuing to build for have very good football.
On if he was considering going there rather than kicking those two field goals: “In this (first) situation, it was 10-7. And then it was 17-10, and then we threw that basket to make it 17-13. No, I think the points are important. If it was closer, when it was third and 8, if we had gotten to a 4th and 3 or 4, probably inside five, I probably would have gone for that. But I don’t think 4th and 8 out of 8, in a game where there’s only one score game, I didn’t see the reason not to make it a 1 point game, to do 17-16. So neither were really the ones I felt to go. Especially the way the game was going. It felt like it was just a good game of football where we could keep the game in score.
To attack : “Our offense is running on all cylinders right now. I think we’ve moved up 80 spots in almost every offensive category he would follow. So it was exciting, and we will continue to see if we can improve and how much we can improve.
On personal foul against Jerry Roberts: “It shouldn’t have been a foul. That’s how it is. There was no foul there.
On defense goals in the remaining four games: “Take the ball away. Take the ball. Get bags and keep the score low. Right now we need to find a way to lower the scores. We played against some very good teams. I saw today that the No. 8 team, the No. 9 team, the No. 10 team and the No. 12 team in the country are the four of our five games that we are playing in this moment, and Washington in Washington is the fifth game. So we’ve run the gamut. Oregon scores a lot, it’s an exceptional team. USC scores a lot. We had a tough time there, playing very, very good football teams. But the goal (for) these next four, with Utah and UCLA, Washington State and the northern team, is that we have to find a way to just reduce the point total, get off the field a few more times, then take the ball away. if we can just take the ball a few times, it will make a huge difference.
On using seven defensive backs against USC: “They were playing with four receivers and a fullback, with no tight ends. So when they came into what we would call 10 staff, our response was going to be we were going to add DBs into the game, and either A, force them to put the ball back and then tackle with our DBs, or two, being able to run an additional coverage scheme with more databases is in the game. We were happy with how this package was waiting for us. We wouldn’t do that against three receivers, only against four receivers.
On how the defense performed against USC: “I think we did some good things defensively. We had them do a lot of third downs. The problem was third down was 3rd and 2, 3rd and 3, 3rd and 4, 3rd and 2. There was a point I looked up and it was like they were 8 for 9 on third try but it felt like the middle of the second quarter and they had already had nine third downs in the game. I think we tackled each other pretty well. There were some great pieces that were made by them. Their quarterback is a very good player. There were times when I think against other players there would have been a much better chance of going down. One of the biggest and most impressive was at the end of the game. They had to make a fourth down. They had to go all the way to fourth down to win this game, in my opinion. I think they thought we were going to go down and score and tie the game. That would be the only reason you would go for the fourth down in this situation instead of kicking us deep and running us 90 yards without a timeout. They went there fourth and we should have gone 60 yards. Three saves, first down, second down, third down and then Jacob Manu was one step away from making that snap on fourth down, which would have been fun to see what would have happened then, in this case. So I think defensively there were some unfortunate plays that were called off that didn’t allow us to show certain times when we went off the field.
On Jacob Manu: “You can see his production showing up. He is extremely active. He’s a leader there. He is an excellent communicator. He loves football. He loves being part of it. He looks a lot like T-Mac, obviously they were teammates, but you look at them, they both have smiles on their faces playing football. They love it, they embrace the game. And I think that’s what we see from Jacob. He tries to make as many plays as he can. It will just get better. He wasn’t there in the spring. He didn’t have an offseason program with us, he didn’t have offseason spring football, so together having the starting experience and then coming back in the spring and staying in the system will really help him.
On other freshmen spending more time on defense: “I thought Jacob Kongaika had a good game. I think he only had about 16-18 plays in the game, 83 total defensive snaps. Gave him about 20% of the game. I think probably about 25% will be good for him next week, just keep improving, getting stronger. I think Tait’ai (Uiagalelei) did a lot of good things, started the game. Continue to work on his technique as it relates to line wins and line stunts in particular and work hand in hand with the defensive ends next to you. (Ephesians) Prysock, I think he played very well. They are loaded at the receiver’s position. There was never a question about USC and the amount of quality spreads they have. I think everyone is either a 4 or 5 star player there at receiver, and I think Prysock did a great job stepping in and playing really good defense. Tacario Davis played in that seven DB package, and I would say he did a lot of great things. There was maybe a loop road that was caught a bit close to it. But other than that, it’s long and it’s going to be a big part of our success going forward. So defensively, I think it would be the five, plus Jacob (Manu), those six guys who played and we’ll continue to see who else we can get out. Of course, Deuce Davis continues to show off. The more Deuce plays, I think the better Deuce will be.
On her “aha” moment with Dorian Singer: “I think it was a USC game, it was the first time we put it on, the first time it was really productive. The catch made against ASU, one-handed, that Will ( Plummer) threw all the way down the sideline the second play of the game was one of those ridiculous catches that I think we said we’re glad we gave him a purse Or I think after the match, I said we were going to give him a scholarship as soon as possible. Where the “aha” comes in now is that he makes these plays consistently rather than weekly. They happen daily. His ability to go up and make plays, he takes it, almost every training rep His practice mentality is exceptional, so we see more and more of those moments where he’s not afraid to go up and get the ball in high and his confidence continues to grow. When your coach has scored three touchdowns in a game, your confidence is my now it’s gotten to the point where he thinks he believes I’m still open.
On preparing for Utah without knowing the status of injured players: “We have to worry about ourselves. We have to figure out how to play better fundamentally. I don’t think it will really matter whether or not their tight end is playing or not playing, (the) running back is playing or not playing. See what happens with (quarterback) Cam (Rising). For us it’s gonna be, can we be more offbeat? Can we beat their tackles with the pass rush? Can we improve our online earnings? Can we find a better way, or a more consistent way, to cover their guys on the pitch. And then whoever they play will then determine what we need to do, whether we need to change a cover or adjust something. But for the most part right now it’s all about us and it’s about whether we can improve in all of our fundamentals and techniques so whoever lines up, we’re lined up to play them.
On his favorite Halloween costume as a kid: “I was dressed as Buddy Ryan for about three straight years when he was the Eagles head coach. I grew up as an Eagles fan. My dad went to school in Pennsylvania at Penn, a always been an Eagles fan. So I grew up like one. I think probably in fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, I dressed up as Buddy Ryan and then quickly moved to the offensive side of the ball.