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What Jedd Fisch said after Arizona’s Homecoming victory over Cal

jedd-fisch-postgame-comments-arizona-wildcats-football-pac-12-cal-bears-covid-will-plummer Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats ended their program-worst 20-game losing streak Saturday, topping Cal 10-3 behind a late fourth quarter touchdown run by Michael Wiley. Our recap can be found here.

After the game, an elated Jedd Fisch discussed picking up his first victory as Arizona’s head coach, the status of quarterback Will Plummer, how the Wildcats responded to Cal’s COVID outbreak and more.

On Fisch’s overall reaction to his first win at Arizona: “I’ve been saying for a while let’s do (a press conference) after a win. That was quite the one. That was as interesting of a game as you could ever imagine. But hats off to our team. Hats off to them. They came here, they were dealing with all sorts of COVID stuff, they had to make some changes, do some different things with their personnel. But they came in here, battled the game.”

On battling through several injuries Saturday: “We had one injury after another after another up front. We’re moving Josh McCauley to left tackle. (Matthew) Stefanski goes in at left guard, Stefanski goes down. Then we got Leif Magnuson goes in, JT Hand goes in. Then Donovan (Laie) goes down. It was just straight rotation of our upfront guys. Will Plummer was in and out of the locker room, training room two or three different times in this game. Kept coming back, kept battling. There were times I didn’t think he was going to be able to play the rest of the game, and he was just so resilient and so tough, and he did not back down. He’s gonna be sore and tired tomorrow though. I know that we have to evaluate how we’re going to practice this week. But boy, hats off to those guys.”

On the defense’s performance and awarding games game balls: “Our defense, cannot say enough about them. Don Brown, what he does with his defensive stuff. Ricky Hundley, Chuch Cecil, Keith Dudzinski, DeWayne Walker. All the young guns that help them. Those guys just work and work and work and they deserve this one. We gave the whole defense a game ball. Gave Will Plummer a game ball. Gonna give Michael Wiley and Stanley Berryhill a game ball and give Tyler Loop a game ball. Field goal, thought that’s what we need, then the extra point.”

On Plummer’s injuries: “I don’t want to get too much into his injuries at this point, but they were all on the throwing side of things. So we had to get his hand stitched up and we had to deal with some other stuff with forearm.”

On preparing for personnel difficulties: “Well, I’ll say this, we have a tremendous coaching staff and they didn’t blink. Brennan Carroll did not blink. He said, hey Jedd, Jordan Morgan’s down. Alright, we got Donovan Laie was down. He was our backup left tackle. He’s like we got to move McCauley to left tackle. And he prepared them on Friday. We had a walkthrough and he said, Hey, let’s just be ready here in case of an emergency. Josh, let’s take 10 reps at left tackle. So we were able to do that. And then obviously some of the others. Stefanski got some reps because at practice you just can’t practice the same five every snap, and we’re just down numbers right now as we all know. But Magnuson coming off of a three week injury, I don’t think he was expecting to go in the game. Woody Jean was gonna be the next guy in the game and we just had to be ready for it but hats off to our staff just making sure we were always ready in case something happened. With the quarterback, we rep’d Jamarye Joiner some at quarterback. I just didn’t know how healthy was, didn’t really want to put him back there too much. (Luke) Ashworth, we rep’d him some at quarterback. And then Wiley, we figured that once Jamarye is injured, we had to come up with something to out gap them a little bit.”

On the locker room mood post game: “I can’t even, It’s hard to describe because first of all, there’s so much love in that locker room. Those guys, yeah, they’re so excited and they were surrounding each other, they were dancing, they were cheering, they were so happy for each other. You felt so much love between them. And yeah, obviously this has been hard. I mean it’s a monkey on the back. You can’t avoid it even if you want to. As much as we talk about one game, each game is a championship opportunity for them just to be done with that. They sung Bear Down about as loud as possible. We sung our cheer about it’s great to be a Zona Wildcat about as loud as possible. We were dancing and they deserve every bit of it. They deserve every bit of it. And I’ll tell you, that’s not going to change the way we practice though tomorrow. It’s not going to change the way we prepare on Monday, and these guys know that hey, that’s behind us, now let’s go out and see how many more we can get.”

On what happened on the two personal fouls on the sideline: “What they told me was, it was third and 11 on the minus-one and the side judge says that he backed into Don. And therefore he gave Don, instead of a sideline warning, they just gave him a 15 yard penalty, which he didn’t handle great. So when they gave him another 15 yard penalty, which is just, that’s really in a 3-3 game, that was tough.”

On whether this was the most difficult win he’s experienced: “That was quite the win. I was on the other side of that when we lost the Super Bowl (with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018). We were down 10-3 lost 13 to 3 at the last second. And it’s one of those weird games so you’re just like, we drove right down the field opening drive. We’re on the seven yard line, third on the seven ball, gets tipped up in the air, caught, interception. Then we drive back, then we lose Will on an injury. Then go Jamarye, ball tipped up again, interception. So those are just weird plays. But then it just became like, hey guys, every possession matters. And with what we were dealing with, their defense was pretty healthy, our offense wasn’t. Their offense wasn’t really healthy, our defense was. So it’s kind of one of those games that it’s kind of lived in that world of threes and 10s. Great job by Wiley on that third and 5, not making it a field goal game. But we just said hey, we’re going to hand you the ball. Go right up that age gap and don’t stop and he did and it was pretty cool.”

On whether Arizona changed its game plan to match Cal’s personnel situation of missing several players: “Yeah, we tried. I think we ended up rushing for over 200 yards in the game. Not really what we thought going into the game was going to be the way we were going to attack them. Kind of how you saw early on when everybody was healthy, we were kind of taking some shots down the field. We thought we could really be more vertical. When really I didn’t think we could stand back there very long. So at that point in time, everything went to boots. We hit that huge bootleg at the end of the game to Dorian singer for a 20 yard gain. But other than that, we felt we had to move the puck and get the ball out fast. We tried to give Chip help on both sides for our tackles. But even then, you still get into third and longs and you’re stuck. That third interception, that was just about a punt for us. I just told him I said, Hey, we’re gonna launch this thing about 60 yards in the field and it’s going to be Berryhill, PI, or a punt. It ended up being a punt, but Stanley was right there for it. And we just needed to try to take a shot downfield so they didn’t just keep coming closer, closer, closer to the line of scrimmage.”

On what he told the team when he learned of Cal’s COVID situation: “Yeah, I said to the team, I found out about it Thursday going out to the practice field. Just that there was COVID and that there were multiple players. But I didn’t know who they were until this morning. Kudos to their team for keeping that quiet. I told our team that’s a good lesson. You don’t have to share, you gather information, you don’t share it. But in this case, we couldn’t gather any of it. So I said to our team this, how many of you guys feel like we lost games because the opponent, how many times you guys you think we lost games because of ourselves? And if the answer is we lost games because of ourselves then it doesn’t matter who they bring. So if we do a great job of just playing good football, sound football, not turn the ball over, not have a bunch of penalties, then we were gonna find a way to win this game. Now unfortunately, somehow we lost the turnover battle three, zero and one. They’re going to rub that in my face because I told them that’s impossible. But I’ll deal with that after a win, not after a loss.”

On punter Kyle Ostendorp’s impact Saturday: “He had that first punt where we tried to pin them back. It was a fourth and three at the 43 yard line. And I knew that our defense is playing outstanding. So I said just punt it, pin them back, and we kick it right to the endzone. I said ah man. The idea here is to pin ‘em back when we pin ‘em back. And then after that, he just punted the ball so well. I mean so well that their starting field position it felt like to me the minus 15 and back almost the whole game. And then that one time he just boomed, I don’t know what it was, a 65 yarder or whatever it might have been. What a great job by our gunners. Stanley Berryhill did an incredible job making that tackle a couple times down there. What a great job of touching the ball on the one yard line. How it got out of there is how it got out of there, but I think that we pinned them back almost as much as we could have ever dreamt of. It was a great job by Kyle and the whole punt team.”

On running a faster offensive pace: “There was two (reasons). Number one, we felt that the weather and the temperature was in our favor. We embrace we’re Arizonans. Tucsonians. Whatever we are, we’re that. So we feel like we practice in it, we embrace the heat. We want it to be hot. I told them this is the greatest thing ever. We can wear them down, we can go tempo, we can make them tired. And then the other advantage of it is, the pass rush is never the same when you’re tired, when you’re going quick. They don’t know if it’s run or a pass and how fast you’re going. Unfortunately, there were some times that we really felt that we got slowed down because we had a cramp one time, we had another injury one time. They had an injury one time. So we didn’t go nearly as fast as I would have liked us to go. But we got there.”

On the significance of playing with a healthy defensive line: “I just think when those guys all play together, that defensive front, they’re very, very good. The problem has been, we haven’t gotten all of them together most of the season. And we’ve just had a missing link one or two here or there. But with Kyon (Barrs) back, with (Trevon Mason) playing the way (Mason) is playing right now, and then with Jalen Harris, hats off to Jalen Harris is always… (Mo) Diallo always impacts games. Paris Shand came back, wasn’t sure if he was gonna make it back, so he was a game time decision. So yeah, all those guys made a huge impact with two and a half sacks is just enormous.”