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What Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said after loss at Washington

arizona-wildcats-football-jedd-fisch-washington-huskies-postgame-interview-reaction-pac12-2022 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona got the track meet it expected, and managed to make it close late but didn’t have the defensive horses to keep up with Washington in a 49-39 loss in Seattle.

Our full recap can be found here. Below is what coach Jedd Fisch said afterward:

On his overall impressions of the game: “It was one of those football games that I think that, who had the ball last seemed to be the one that was going to win the game. We had a chance there to make it 49-42 and then try to kick an onside kick there with about 1:40 left. Did some things that I thought were good on all phases, did some things we need to improve upon, on all phases.

“And I think it was just one of those games. Both teams had over 500 yards. I guess it was one of those football games that unfortunately didn’t go our way, but I think our guys competed till the very last second. Guys did not want to come out of the game for any plays whatsoever. And you can see guys continuing to fight to get off the sideline back into the game. So I was excited to see that. I thought there were some good plays on special teams. Obviously, we want to make every kick and we want to be able to be outstanding in every phase. We wanted to get the onside kick, but it didn’t work that way today, but I think as our team is building and we’re building our program to where we want it to go, games like today, going on the road to somebody else’s environment on Homecoming and competing till the very last play tells you that we’re going in the right direction.”

On the offense: “Continuing to build off of, I would say, the momentum of the offense, that the offense is feeling very confident every time they go out in the field. We had another 400-yard passing game. Three out of the last four weeks I think we’ve thrown for 400 yards. Four touchdowns, no turnovers passing the ball, which was good.”

On the defense: “I think we did a really good job stopping the run, made then turn into a one-dimensional passing team. Unfortunately they did it extremely well. When they pass the ball like they did today, it’s hard to hold them back.

On not getting a good pass rush: “It’s very challenging to be able to hold up for as long as they were asked to hold up today in the back end. With a very good receiving corps, that are getting open down the field, you’ve got to be able to hold on for a long time. I felt like there was a lot of seconds back there. That’s just not a recipe for being able to have a great passing defense performance on that day. We got to get the rush improved. We’ve got to get to be able to get to the quarterback and throw him off his game a little bit. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that nearly as much as we wanted to. I don’t know what his completion percentage was, but I felt like he was very, very good back there and did a very nice job.”

On the decision to go for an onside kick to start the 2nd half: “We practiced all week, we felt like we had the exact look we wanted for that kick. We actually had the look, we just had a tough bounce. The bounce went up instead of to the left, which it had been doing all week. We wanted to steal a possession. It was a situation where, at the end of the half, after we scored to make it 14-all, they drove down and they used all two minutes and 40 seconds. So not to lose the middle eight, we thought that was a way to get the possession back and give us a chance. And if it gave us a chance to make it 21-all great, and if it didn’t, and it ended up in a score, which it did, we didn’t feel like that was gonna put the game ... out of reach. We felt like we were able to move the ball on offense. Felt like we were gonna score much more than 14 points.”

On rallying late to get within 3 points: “I think it’s the most important thing. There was not one part in that game that our guys (thought) we were out of it. And we weren’t. I mean, it was 42-39, I mean, it was a 3-point game. That’s football. That’s what it’s supposed to be. That goes on all across the country, those type of games.”

On Washington’s game-sealing TD: “That’s a situation where it’s a 3rd and 11 and we thought we got them off the field, there was a penalty, and then they scored on the next one, or it’s 45-39 and we have the ball to go down and score to win the game 46-45. We felt that as soon as they did score, we wanted to put a drive together. We thought it was important, and I think all 22 players, 11 on offense, 11 on defense, competed their tails off throughout the game and try to get that one stop and that one score.”

On if the body language is still good: “It’s not hard to see, when they’re telling me ‘Coach I’m fine. I’m fine.’ When they’re on the field feeling like there’s any an injury that you would look at (as) somewhat substantial and then come back and say ‘no, actually, I’m fine. I’m fine. I want to play, Coach.’ And there’s no issue. Our guys bust their tails every play. It’s 42-39 with two and a half minutes left, or whatever it might be, our guys are ready to roll. They’re fantastic getting on the field, they practice their tails off. We’re extremely proud of where we’re at there. And I think today’s game was a prime example of a Pac-12 football game, and that’s what happens sometimes. One team scores a little more than the other, and both teams had 500-something yards of offense or more.”

On the 4th down pitch play that was called an incomplete pass: “I can explain it. The ruling on the field was incomplete pass. When they reviewed it they determined that it was not an incomplete pass, that it was what would be considered a backwards pass, a lateral, which would then be recovered by Jonah and then it would be a first down, and it would have been first and go on the 8-yard line. However, the rule is that if the official calls it incomplete, it’s dead. And it doesn’t matter that they reviewed it and said it was backwards. So they could review it. They said it was a backwards pass. It wasn’t a forward pass, but yet they still couldn’t award the ball to us.”

On the defense forcing two turnovers on downs in the 1st half: “That was a huge 4th and 2 stop on the pitch to play that they ran. There was a huge 4th and 1 stop that our guys made. I think there was some really big-time stops, and those are what I call turnovers. I told him that. I said we got two stops and both of those we scored touchdowns on. Those are complimentary football, the 4th-down stops, and then also the field goal that they’d missed from a good rush. So you look at those three things, those were all 21 points, offensively off of those defensive stops. We certainly point to that and we point to getting better, and building his program the way we want it, which is going to be, over the course of time, a very good defense and a very good offense. It’s going to be all three phases. It’s not going to be a one-phase program by any means.”

On Jacob Manu having 10 tackles, 2.5 for loss: “Jacob Manu is a true freshman, you can see why that Servite team was pretty good in high school when you see guys that all were on the same team. T-Mac, Jacob Manu, Noah Fifita and Keyan Burnett. Jacob is, he’s a ball hawk. He was a ball hawk in high school. And when you watch his high school tape, when I went to watched him live, we offered him the next night after I saw him on Friday night playing football. I’m like, this kid’s around the ball every play. And it was cool to see that. It’s great that he’s a freshman and he’s going to just develop into a better player. He wasn’t here ... all spring. He got here in June, so he didn’t even have spring ball with us. He’s going to continue to improve.”

On Jayden de Laura: b”I was really impressed with our quarterback today. He forced no balls. No matter where the score was, we were down 18 I think at one point in the game, and he didn’t flinch. He just went down and scored a touchdown. He ran the ball well with his legs today, he made really wise decisions scrambling, I believe he had close to 50 yards rushing. And those are the type of decisions that (show) he’s growing up and he’s continuing to mature. And that’s a big thing for us is helping him, and all of our players, mature and learn and grow and develop. Today was a good day for him. And the offense, but we have to be better if we’re going to win the game today.”

On Tetairoa McMillan: “I think he’s just getting started. Honestly, I think he is getting more and more confident every day. He’s practicing better every day. He’s believing in himself more and more and more, that the plays that he used to make in high school actually can be made in college, too. And he’s beginning to do that, and it’s pretty cool to see T-Mac play. And we’re excited about continuing to develop T-Mac into what I believe will be one the best receivers in the country here in the next few years.”

On what he told the team after the game: “Welcome to a good college football game, is was I told them. There were 65 teams that won today, 65 teams that didn’t. You win or you learn, and today is a day that we have to learn that if we continue to improve on fundamentals we will get better, we continue to make great decisions we’ll be in the game. If we turned it over a couple times on offense, we wouldn’t have been in that game today. But we didn’t turn the ball over today, and therefore it kept us in the game. If we take the ball away a couple times on defense, we would have won that game, but we didn’t take the ball away. So we continue to just share with our team, hey guys, this is college football. This is what it comes down to and feels like and looks like. Now it’s our job to come on the other side of it moving forward.”

On dealing with the playing conditions in Seattle: “I was excited we had no false starts. I didn’t feel like our guys flinched when it came to being on on the road in Husky Stadium. I mean, this is a well-known stadium for years and years and years. And our guys did not flinch on that. I think we got a little excited early in the game defensively on a few offsides, and I really believe that was because our guys were so determined to stop the run and so determined to fire off the line of scrimmage, that they just got a little excited.”

On why de Laura came out on the final drive: “The last play he got rolled up on his ankle, with the clock, they gave us a 30-second timeout. So in order to get the play run and not take us out of field goal range and not use our (third) timeout ... so we just put Noah (Fifita) in for that last play while Jayden was getting looked at. But he’ll be fine.”

On why Jacob Cowing was absent during part of warmups, and had to briefly leave the game in second half: “He had to go inside to get re-taped early during warm ups, but he was fine. And then he got his ankle rolled up on, which is why we took him, when he came out of the game went back into town. We had to just make sure everything was good structurally, which it was, and and then he got himself re-taped again and then back in. Jacob Cowing does not want to miss any snaps if at all humanly possible.”

On what happened to Josh Donovan on special teams: “It was something with his knee, but it hasn’t been looked at yet. We couldn’t put him back in.”