Jedd Fisch had the look of someone who just had his first big letdown when he walked into the interview room after Arizona’s 38-14 home loss to San Diego State on Saturday night.
His hard push for a packed Arizona Stadium resulted in just over 39,000 fans, and the product on the field too closely resembled the one he inherited off a 12-game losing streak that’s now at 14 games.
“I thought our team was ready to play; I hate that saying, I feel like that’s such coach talk,” Fisch said. “But yeah, we were ready to play. We practiced hard. We played well in practice, we prepared hard. We just never could get in the game, and I was disappointed from the beginning.”
Our game recap can be found here. Below is what else Fisch said following the disappointing result:
On San Diego State: “They outplayed us, outcoached us, outschemed us. They played really hard, and they made it very hard on us. They’re a very good football team. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast, and it showed up tonight.”
On the crowd: “I want to appreciate our fans. I think there were 39,000 fans, the Zona Zoo was packed, and we let them down. We want them to continue to come out in droves and come out with more people. And we will continue to work as hard as humanly possible to put a better product on the field. And that is our goal. We will. There are no hours left in a day that we won’t challenge ourselves to try to get better and challenge our team to get better. With that being said, I hope that we have that same turnout on next Saturday night, and that we can do a better job for them.”
On his team’s performance: “We’ve got to be a better football team. Our team played hard all the way through to the end. They played hard until the end, they have great spirits in the locker room right now, but they’re very disappointed in the outcome. We will continue to work to improve upon that.”
On if this was a step back: “As we’re building this thing, I don’t think anything’s a step back, because what we’re doing is we’re learning from this experience. And what we have to do is we have to look back and say what do we need to do better. But where we are at as a team right now is we got guys that are competing their tails off to the very, very end. I mean, you see Will Plummer drop his shoulder right there on fourth down, down 20-something points, to try and get into the end zone. You saw Drake Anderson find a way to slither through, and if we don’t get an offensive holding penalty we score right there. You see our defense going out 3-and-out, 3-and-out, 3-and-out, battling. I don’t see anything that we’re doing as a step back, we just need to be better. And that’s what our goal is gonna be, and we’re gonna do everything we can to be better this week.”
On how this result compared to the 24-16 loss to BYU: “I mean, it was two different opponents, two different teams in two different games. We couldn’t do anything on offense, so when we can’t do anything on offense it’s really hard on defense. And then when the defense, when you let up explosive (plays), and scores happen quick it’s hard to kind of get your composure back. But I thought our guys did that. I thought they found their composure. When we answered the bell when it was 21-0 and we scored the next drive to make it 21-7, I thought we were going to get it going and make it 21-14 and then just play normal football, but we didn’t convert on that third down after we stopped them. And I think they scored a touchdown the next drive.”
On who will start at quarterback next week against NAU: “I don’t know. I’m not sure. We’ll look at the tape and figure it out, but right now I’m complete unsure of what we’re going to do at the quarterback position.”
On making a QB change in the second half: “One of the two of them will start, I know that. I took Gunner out for a few reasons, I didn’t just take Gunner out because we weren’t moving the ball. Donovan Laie got hurt, Jordan Morgan got taken out of the game. We didn’t have our left tackle, we didn’t have our left guard, the game was a little bit out of hand, but not completely, I felt. He was getting hit pretty good back there, and we weren’t doing a good enough job to help him, so I wanted to see if we could get a spark, change it up a little bit, a different dynamic with Will. He came in and he came in slinging, and I appreciate that. He made a nice red zone throw for a touchdown, made a great throw to Tayvian (Cunningham). So we’ll have to look at the two quarterbacks and see which one gives us the best chance.”
On how Will Plummer played: “I think what Will did was Will competed. He came in and didn’t worry about the scoreboard and just played hard like we asked our team to do. And I think we probably had about six or seven 3-and-outs on defense in the second half, too. They kept competing and they kept fighting and Will did the same thing. Will came in and he said ‘hey, the score is the score. I’m gonna try to go out there and make plays and do what I’m supposed to do and play the position the way I’ve been coached to play it.’ Will’s got a chance to be a good player for us, as does Gunner.
“I didn’t know it was Will’s first touchdown in college. Maybe I would have been nicer after it. My mind was a little bit elsewhere on how we can find a way to get a stop and get a score again and try to use some timeouts to get the ball back with 5:30 left. I was excited about the play he made to Tayvian also. He stood back there, and he’s got some moxie about him. Both quarterbacks will probably play next week again.”
On if he thought of making a change at halftime: “I felt there was a lot of things that were causing us not to move the ball, and to put it right on the quarterback’s shoulders, I didn’t think was the right thing to do at that time. You’re always going to see if there is something that we can do better. But before I just wanted, you know, to wholeheartedly blame a player, I wanted to make sure that I would put him in the best possible position. At halftime we’ve talked about making a change. I want to see if we could start with a touchdown drive, we went 3-and-out twice and that’s when we made a change.”
On how SDSU was able to get so many big plays: “When you sell out to stop the run against a team, there’s going to be time somebody can sneak through. They ran a really good pick play, a very legal one. It was behind the line of scrimmage, but they did a really, really good job of scheming that tight end play, and that was a 73-yard play that they hit on. They ran their run game and they ran it well and they got to the edge a couple of times and they cut up good, and (Greg Bill) is a really good running back, and (they have) a good offensive line.
“They’re gonna hit a couple play-action passes on you, that’s just what’s going to happen. You hope that you can get them on negative yardage on first down so second down doesn’t feel like a play action, but they were able to get four or five on first down, which on 2nd and 5, 2nd and 4, now you can call what you want. That’s what we were not able to do. We were not able to call what we want because we were always behind the chains.”
On his message to the team in the locker room: “I told the team I said, if anybody thought this was gonna be easy they’re out of their minds. That’s not what this is, this is a process, that we’re trying to build something that’s really special here. And in the same way that we had Steve Kerr talk to our team before the game, and he talked about the time when they arrived in year one, after coming in being last in the Pac 10 the year before, and how they had a battle to get through 11-17 before they were able to get 20 wins for 25 straight seasons,. It’s a process, and these guys have the ability, no matter if they’re a senior or a freshman, to change the culture around here, the winning culture. And next week is another week and that’s the beautiful thing about football. You watch the game film, you make your corrections, and then we’d better have a great week of practice and come out with our hair on fire. We’re gonna absolutely have the best week of practice we can possibly put together, it’s gonna be hard, it’s going to be physical, and we’re going to get ourselves right, and then we’re going to come out with a mentality of getting off the schneid and winning a football game.”
On making a change at kicker: “Tyler (Loop) is going to be our field goal kicker right now. Lucas (Havrisik) will be our kickoff, long field goal guy. We’re going to give Tyler a chance, he hit it really well in practice this week and give him a chance to continue on in that role.”
On WR Jamarye Joiner not playing: “He was limited but able to play if we needed them. When the game got to where it got to, I didn’t feel like I was necessarily going to put a guy that’s just coming off of a second foot surgery out there right away. We had certain plays that were set for him, but they weren’t plays that I was going to call with the way the game was going. It just wasn’t a real spot for him to get in there, but he’ll be good to go this week, he’ll play.”
On the decision to wear white jerseys at home: “I thought it was an advantage when it was 90-something degrees. I felt as if we could take advantage—it didn’t work—but that was my thought process going into it that it was going to be a warm evening ... and let’s take advantage of that by wearing white.”