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What Jedd Fisch, Martell Irby and Jonah Coleman said after Arizona’s win over UCLA

arizona-wildcats-football-jedd-fisch-martell-irby-jonah-coleman-comments-ucla-bruins Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats defeated the No. 20 UCLA Bruins 27-10 Saturday night. Our recap of the game can be found here.

After the game, coach Jedd Fisch, defensive back (and UCLA transfer) Martell Irby and running back Jonah Coleman spoke to the media. Here’s what they said.

Fisch on his overall thoughts of the win: “We’re bowling. That’s a great way to start this thing off. We’re excited about that. We’re excited about getting to that spot. Six weeks is a big deal. And for us to get there, nine games into the season, really excited about that. I thought we played a really good football team tonight. And we played really good. And when that happens, good things go your way. And I thought really our guys were ready to play all week. They were excited. They’ve been excited. Our defense played fantastic. I mean 10 points. Our offense had 430 yards, five for five in the red zone and 11 of 16 in third down and 300 yards passing and 130 yards rushing. Really an overall fantastic game.”

On Arizona’s improvement week over week: “I thought the two missed field goals early, the block field goal and then put pressure on the other field goal really were big time plays. Unfortunately we let up that one touchdown at the end of the half. Otherwise, it was as good of a game as I’ve been a part here. I’ve said that now a few weeks in a row. I think that’s what makes it cool, that we can keep saying we’re getting better, we’re getting better.We’re not content with where we are. Our goal is to be better next Saturday at 12 o’clock in Bolder than we were tonight at 7:45. But we will enjoy this one. Our team enjoying it right now. And then, as I said, then we get back to work and the best thing about this is we get to do it again next week.”

On the process of getting Arizona into a bowl game: “A long (process) and hard work and unbelievable amounts of commitment from our coaches and players. Our coaches, the staff we hired knew they were coming here to rebuild the program. We didn’t hire them in a spot where they felt like they were just gonna walk in the door and we were just gonna go win. It takes a lot of people that want to do that and leave their jobs to do that. A lot of the guys we hired were in winning programs when we hired them, and they chose to trust us and trust what we were going to get done here. And then we went and recruited a bunch of great players when we were 1-11. To get that class of 22 to come here, and I’ll continue to brag on that class forever, when you see all those guys. I mean, I think 15 of them are starting right now or 14 of them from that recruiting class alone and they’re only redshirt freshmen or sophomores. And that class just believed and they believed in what we were trying to preach and then the transfers coming in that really gave us first of all, that gave us that glimmer of hope a year ago that we were going to start being able to do this. And this game a year ago was a huge game for this program when we beat them in the Rose Bowl when we played them there. I just think that it’s been a crazy process of knowing that it was gonna be long and hard and really proud that our guys are where they are right now.”

On whether Arizona should be ranked: “Yes. I think we should be ranked. I really do. I think we’ve earned that right. 16 points is our entire margin of defeat this season. And you take that, you know, you have two overtime games, both of which were on the road, and a home loss against the number five team in the country by a touchdown when we were at a bunch of new starters for that first game, I think that our team has proven that they deserve to be in that conversation, and hopefully tomorrow we’ll find out if we are. And if we’re not we’ll just have to go to work and try to win the next one.”

On Arizona expecting to win these types of games: “Yeah, I think that’s where we are right now. Our team goes out there, our team believe we’re gonna win every game we play. And I think that they have proven that to themselves that they can. I don’t think there was any doubt. And I really do look at this year’s USC game as a turning point in our program for this season because I think we went there we were a 22-point underdog and we go to triple overtime, we take a 17-0 lead, we wind up losing the game 43-41, and everybody ran into that locker room with a sense of we belong. And when you feel you belong, then you go into every game after that with an expectation to win. When you feel you don’t belong is when you have to hope and pray. And I think our team right now feels they belong. We’re 8-4 in the last 12 games we’ve played. And we’re going to continue to see if we can build off of that and see how we can do these next three weeks.”

On Noah Fifita’s early interception and his response the rest of the game: “Yeah it was zone coverage and he wound up reading it wrong, and he just kind of came back off the field and he said, ‘Did I miss him high?’ and I said, ‘We just misread the play.’ The play should have gone to somebody else. But he was very quickly, he snapped right back. I think Jayden said to him real quick, hey, those are the times you want to look for your running back. You know, if you saw it was zone, hitch, live another day, and then we kind of all just reset. And we said we just go to the next play. And he’s reset and wound up making some great decisions the rest of the game, made some spectacular throws. I mean the throw to Tanner down the seam on third down was ridiculous. The catch that T-Mac made on the third down early in the game was fantastic. And then obviously the throw that Noah made in the endzone off to T-Mac that got overturned, the ball was put in the only place the ball could have gone for that catch and then T was able to come down with it.”

On choosing to run the ball on a crucial third and six early in the second half: “Yeah, I believe in our running game number one, I believe in what we’re trying to get done. I think sometimes you get caught up a little bit .To be honest with you about four weeks ago, I was watching the Ole Miss Auburn game and Lane and Hugh Freeze, both of which I respect offensively, I think they’re fantastic, were running the ball a lot more than I ever do on third down. And I said I got to start thinking about this a little bit more that maybe I’m missing something maybe a little bit too NFL-ized. In the NFL you just don’t run the ball on third and two plus. But I just started looking at it more and more and just started believing in certain runs and certain concepts and it was a time we were able to hit the run and it was a great run by Jonah. Jonah made us look good on that one.”

On Arizona's success in the redzone: “Remember in training camp we talked a bunch about the fact that we started in the red zone this year and we committed the first five days of training camp practice was gonna be red zone offense, red zone defense. And I think we’re probably in the top five in the country on red zone offense. And on defense we’re now sitting in a spot where we’re keeping guys out of the redzone we’re sitting at about 70 percent where last year it was about 90 something percent. We’ve been seen stopped twice. I think we’re 35 for 37 on offense in the redzone. Last year were were 90th in the country. So we made a big commitment and we really believe that you get what you practice and when you practice and you believe in redzone offense and redzone defense, I think we’re reaping the benefits now.”

On the offensive line’s improvement: “It was great to see Raymond Pulido out there. This was his first game that he really played other than that one quarter against Stanford as a true freshman. So we were able to have really two freshmen at the two guard positions. And then a sophomore at tackle, and to be able to see those guys keep getting better, when you’re talking about going against that rush defense and you’re playing three guys that are under the age of 19, it was pretty cool to see it. To see how those guys have grown under Coach Carroll. Coach Carroll is a fantastic line coach and he’s done a great job of developing. If you look at Jordan Morgan’s development, if you look at Jonah Savaiinea’s development, if you look at all these guys development, Coach Carroll has just done a fantastic job with that.”

On the defense developing an identity over the last month: “Coach Nansen and the staff have done an incredible job. Where we were to where we are is as big of a jump as what we made in 21 to 22 on the offensive side of the ball. And I mean you’re talking about an enormous leap of success and we’re playing with a bunch of guys, we rotate guys you can see probably 18 and 19 players every week defensively play. And Coach Nansen, Coach Cecil, Coach Akina, Coach Kafusi, I mean that group and Coach Richardson bringing those two new coaches in has made huge impacts into our program.”

On what it means to coach guys to a bowl game who’ve been with the program through its struggles: “Yeah, Mike Wiley, Jordan Morgan, Treydan Stukes, those guys stand out in my mind as guys that just believed and stayed the course. And they wanted to be here and wanted to be with us and they are everything you want in a football player and in a person. I mean I always brag on on Mike, Eller graduate, came back, does an incredible job, two winning touchdowns last week. fights back through injury, everything you ask for. Jordan Morgan, I mean this is a psychological game with Jordan Morgan. This is when his injury happened when he played UCLA a year ago, came back and just played fantastic. Those guys were here when it was tough. And all they did was just work and believe and trust the process. And I think that’s a huge part of it.”

On the effectiveness of the defensive scheme with Irby: “It was good, I guess, we held them to 10 points and they scored seven in the two minute drive. So I would say very. We’ll continue to use the right personnel groups that we can use to be able to get all of our players on the field. And what a great win for Martell Irby. Graduated from UCLA, came here. Tyler Manoa graduated from UCLA, came here. DJ Warnell transferred here. Big win for Coach Nansen, big win for Coach Doherty. Big win for Catch Kafusi. Just a great win for all those guys, really proud of them.”

On the crowd and Homecoming atmosphere: “Yeah, I need to apologize for not starting with that because that was awesome. That was the best environment that we’ve had since I’ve been a coach here. The crowd was great. They were into it. They stayed, they were fired up. The student section was awesome. I hope we don’t have to beg for sellouts. I hope they just start happening now. And what a great deal to get Gronk here. That was awesome. The Wildcat Walk was by far, it was incredible the Wildcat Walk this week. Our kids embraced it and our kids loved it, and I appreciate all of you guys staying until 11:30 every weekend. Hopefully we can get an earlier game in two weeks. We’ll know on Monday. But other than that, we’re just going to keep grinding, keep working and keep filling the stadium up.”

Coleman on Arizona expecting to win games: “We’ve been so close and just right there. Like our losses right there and we know that we’re good enough. We know that we can do it. The mindset is every time we step on the field we expect to win. It’s not oh I hope. Nah, we expect to win. We know we’re the better team. Physically, mentally, anything.”

Irby on playing against his former school: “It was nothing short of a blessing. I’m out there having fun. Football is football. I played there when I come out of high school and now I’m here. It’s just a part of my journey. So just to have a little full circle moment, have us going bowling, Homecoming, white out with my brothers, it was just a great moment. It was a good moment.”

Irby on what position he was playing: “I was in mike tonight. I was in the box. Whatever the coaches bring to me Sunday for the game plan, I buy in. And that’s kind of what our whole team does regardless.”

Irby on the strategy of playing that position against their offense: “I don’t even ask questions at this point if I’m being honest. I trust my coaches top to bottom, Everything they’re busting their butt for day in and day out, so whatever they bring to us, we buy in and make it happen and bring home dubs. So I love it.”

Irby on the job Coach Nansen has done: “Nothing short of phenomenal. Just continuing to change things, go with different schemes, everything. He’s got a great mind and it’s not just him. It’s our whole staff really offense and defense. It’s fun to be a part of. I’ve known Coach Nansen since I was 18 at UCLA And he’s still there. So it’s fun to see how he continues to grow as a coach and continues to stack Ws.”

Irby on why Arizona is playing so well this year: “Because we love each other. That’s all. It’s not too much. We just close. We want it not only for ourselves but for our brothers. We all going after the same thing, we we all go to war together and it’s a day in day out grind. That’s why I think we’re getting the results that we have.”

Coleman on facing UCLA’s defensive front: “Good front, they move around a lot. Trust the process and our coaches. We gonna attack them. They got the No. 1 run defense or No. 1 pressures. We’re going to attack and we want the challenge.”

Coleman on the staff trusting the running game: “We know whatever coach calls we gonna execute the play. It don’t matter the down or distance. Coach called the run and hit the hole and it was there. O-line got a push. And the yards after contact that’s just a mentality.”

Irby on what the last month has been like: “I would say it just feels good, it feels amazing. Because it’s not just like we’ve been working since September since the season started or August. This has been since January. Since I got here. This has been the mentality of the team. We don’t worry about anything else other than what goes on inside the building. So to be able to be at this point. Yeah we know we have more work to be done but in this moment tonight it feels amazing. We gonna get back to drawing board tomorrow, practice, full go. But right now it feels amazing. This month has been amazing. We’re just going to continue to trust the process because that’s what got us here.”

Coleman on his style of running: “It’s just a mentality. Make them play, make them not want to tackle you. You keep running somebody over and over and over and over again, they not gonna want to keep coming back. Make them fold. That’s the mentality here.”

Coleman on the offensive line: “That’s part of the process. Not every play is going to go how you want it. You’re not going to always execute every play. But it’s all about how we finish, and I’m so proud of the offensive line, the team in general of how we finish. We start fast and finish faster. That’s the mentality and the standard.”

Irby on the defense’s identity: “We’ve had an identity the whole year every blade of grass. Every time you step on the field just give your all and that’s all we can ask. I feel like we’re headed in the right direction and we’re going to continue to grow, continue to love on one another, continue to buy in. Look up in December and tell you what the end result is.”

Irby on holding UCLA to no points after the blocked: “I feel like the ZonaZoo, our team, our environment we’re playing in right now is amazing. But at that point I felt like the stands really got involved and we just kind of buckled down a little bit more. We knew it was a pivotal point in the game. That’s how we feel every time we step on the field. It’s a pivotal point let’s go make a play. So we just trusted our coaches, trusted our calls. Got what we need to do, made the plays and gave the ball back to the offense.”

Coleman on what it means to clinch a bowl berth: “Man it means a lot. I was part of the first recruiting class of Coach Fisch and they were 1-11. All the stuff I got talked about for coming here, for committing here. ‘You can do better, you can do that.’ But I trusted the vision that Coach Fisch had for us. And how we just worked and worked and worked and no question asked, and how we keep fighting and coming back. Like we deserve it. But we not done yet. That’s just another checkpoint. We still got four more games left. But it feels good. We gonna celebrate it then next person, next team.”

Coleman on what was it about the vision that made him buy in: “Just the relationships. Like every coach was talking. It wasn’t just my position coach. The relationships I built with coaches. It was like no other. It’s like that all around the facility. Defensive coaches talk to you, help you out. Coach Nansen used to be a running back coach. I can go to Coach Nansen and ask what do I need to work on. So everyone working on everyone and just relationships and trusting the process. That’s really it.”

Coleman on the development of his recruiting class: “We got some good guys in our class. It’s too many to name. I’m not gonna throw their names out there but trusting the coaches. Development. Player development. You want to get developed into a pro. Come to Arizona. That’s our standard. Be a pro. Everyone has accepted that and bought in. Make plays.”