The Arizona Wildcats won their Pac-12 home opener Saturday night with an explosive 43-20 victory over Colorado. Our recap of the game can be found here.
After the game, coach Jedd Fisch spoke to the media. Here’s what he said.
On his overall takeaways from the game: “Our guys did a great job of playing complimentary football. I thought what was fun about tonight’s game is how we were able to get stops and get scores and get stops and get scores. And when you play together as a team, good things happen. And that was certainly certainly there tonight.”
On the crowd support: “I thought the Zona Zoo was great. Great that they were there until the end. Next week we need everyone. We need need that place to be packed, and we’re hoping that that is the case. We want the best home field advantage we can have. That was a fun Pac-12 home opener for us. We were excited.
On where the win fits in the the program’s progression: “As we’ve said numerous times we’re all about the build. We’re all about just starting this thing the right way. We believe in the way we’re doing it, we believe in our process of continuing to get better every day. I think today was an opportunity that we got better. But I know that we still have a long way to go to where we want to be. But we’ll continue to battle and work hard and practice hard and see how good we can be.”
On Jayden de Laura’s performance: “Jayden played really well. There’s no question about that. You threw six touchdown passes. I think he completed 70 something percent maybe of his passes. Did not turn the ball over. The offense was clicking tonight. There’s no question about it. We were on our way to 600 something yards of offense. We had a chance there to score on the one. They stopped us. But offense never flinched. Never flinched. First and goal on the three and couldn’t get in. Easily could have gotten stressed, or missed a field goal at the end of the half, could have gotten stressed. I felt like the offense was very confident. but I also thought our defense felt very confident that they were going to stop them. Tyler Loop went right back out there and banged that field goal through and that was great. So really excited about the way the team played complimentary football, but I know that we have a way to go to where we want to be.”
On whether this is the best receiving corps in the Pac-12: “I’m not a general manager or a draft expert. I’m just looking at our team. I believe that our team has good receivers and I really love coaching our team of receivers. I think Kevin Cummings does an amazing job with our wideouts. It was fun to watch Jacob Cowing. And T-Mac and Dorian play. As we reminded Jacob when he hit that number, if he departed next year and this year together you might have 5,000 when it’s all said and done. Nobody’s in a rush out. Jacob is a really good player. Dorian is a really good player. And we have a lot of young players that are really good as well. Obviously, T-Mac as we all know, but I’m excited about our batch right below them too. They just are playing at the number two spot. So we’re excited about our receivers.”
On whether Fisch was aware of Cowing’s record chase: “No. The couple of balls that Jayden threw in the final drive I think he wanted to get to 500. That’s okay. We were just playing normal offense. And there was a couple of runs that we called that there was no way we were gonna get a yard based on the defensive look that we got, so we always have a built in run answer. I think those were a couple of times that he hit on that. I did want to get Cowing one more catch and see what he can do there. But just just excited about the way the kids played today. Really, they play really hard. They practice really hard and we demand a lot of our players from school to weight room to training room to football, and I don’t know if they get appreciated enough on how much we ask of them to do. So when they can have a night like this, it’s pretty cool to see.”
On Michael Wiley’s outing: “Wiley had a great game. I always tell them, I always forget to give them a game ball in the locker room. I always just say Wiley will get a game ball on Monday. It’s like an asterisk. It’s like hey, you guys get a game ball, and then Wiley will get one on Monday when I remember to give it to him. I think he’s at like 10 touchdowns in 11 games or 11 touchdowns in 10 games. Whatever it might be, he’s just continuing to do great things. Two pass catching touchdowns this week. So it was so cool to see it. And so cool to see how he’s responding. He is another, we talk about him all the time, right? He’s a do everything right guy. From the Eller School of Business to being able to do what he’s been doing on the field.”
On when he felt comfortable that Arizona would win? “With 39 seconds left in the game when I told Jayden that you can officially take a knee. I never feel comfortable. I’m the worst when it comes to feel comfortable during a game. I’ve lived through the Michigan State-Michigan game where we with one second left got a punt blocked for a 65 yard touchdown. I’ve looked through some crazy games, so for me, it’s play football. Play football. We get 60 minutes and we get 12 opportunities. So I don’t really like to think about what could the final outcome be other than let’s just play ball and let’s see how good we can be, because our team is very young, and we need reps and we need to get better. So we’re really not looking at the final outcome as much as we are in the process of getting better.”
On Alex Lines’ absence: “Alex is no longer on our team. I don’t know (why). That’s up to him to disclose that. He’s chose to no longer be on our team.”
On the defense regaining its confidence: “I was excited about our defense. I thought they played with a lot of passion today. They attacked the field with great passion. They played really hard, and there’s going to be missed tackles, there’s going to be plays that are made. If you look at the Pac-12 and the quarterbacks in the Pac-12 right now, there’s going to be a lot of plays. There’s going to be a lot of offense in our conference right now. But defensively, if they keep battling and keep fighting and make plays, I was really proud of the way they just kept coming back to the next one, the next play, the next play and really did a good job today.”
On playing more younger guys: “That’s a huge part of it. It was a huge emphasis for us to be able to say, can we expand the amount of players playing? Can we get more fresher bodies? Can we give Jacob (Kongaika) and Taitai (Uiagalelei)? I looked up there one time, I think I counted five true freshmen that were on the field on defense at the same time, which is great. It’s great because of the fact that we are in this thing to keep getting better every week and every year and when you can develop your young kids and your young kids can keep getting better, it’ll give you a chance here as the weeks and the years go on that you’re going to play with a veteran group at some point. So it’s great to get them out there.”
On Dorian Singer’s game: “Dorian Singer has tremendous hands. He makes those catches in practice everyday. He made some in the Cal, some of those tremendous catches, and he happens to just have ball skills that are tremendous. So Dorian, he had 163 yards. He had his first ever career touchdown as a Wildcat so that was cool. We thought that there was like kryptonite there for a while with the endzone, so it was nice that we got through that barrier. And he’s another one, he practices every single day, so many reps. And he just no matter if he’s beat up or sore or hurt or whatever it might be, he’s gonna fight through it and he does such a tremendous job of just trying to get better every week. 163 yards on nine catches and touchdown is a pretty nice night.”
On Isaiah Rutherford’s status and Tiaoalii Savea’s injury: “Rutherford got a bone bruise in his knee at practice. I think he’s going to truly be a day to day. Tia, I didn’t get the final result on what’s going on with him. I think he got rolled up on up front. But I don’t know what that’s gonna look like, if that’s just a precautionary part of the game or if that’s something more than that. Everybody else seemed to walk away healthy from what I understand.”
On Jayden’s chemistry with his receivers: “Jayden is continuing to get better. As I like to always say, Jayden has been here for five games. And he’s been in this offense only since January. He’s not ever played in an offense like this before. So if he can continue to make jumps like he’s been making, then we’re gonna have a really good offense. We just know that each week we’re going to continue to work to get better and hold him to a higher standard next week.”
On how the linebackers prepared for the Colorado game: “They practice hard. I think there’s probably a lot of things that we need to clean out. Again, you guys know during the game when you’re calling the offense, it’s hard to be able to give you exactly what’s going on on the other side and whether or not we stay in our gap on every run. But we’ll watch the film tomorrow, we’ll look at it. I know that coach Nansen and the defensive staff worked extremely hard this week to have a good home opener for us and for Arizona football, and I think we did that in the Pac-12.”
On the team’s approach this past week: “One thing we talked about all week long was we’re always the underdog. We’re always the underdog. We’re Arizona football and we’re the underdog. We like that. We embrace that. We’re never going to talk about being a favorite. We’re never going to talk about any of that stuff. We don’t worry about that type of stuff. We take that mentality of we’re going to grind and our philosophy here is to embrace that grind every day and not worry about what others think outside of the building. Not worry about what we think inside of our building, which is how far can you work? How good can you get and can you be better than you were yesterday?”