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What Jedd Fisch said after Arizona’s Homecoming loss to No. 10 USC

arizona-wildcats-football-jedd-fisch-postgame-press-conference-usc-trojans-homecoming-reaction-2022 Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Arizona wasn’t able to pull out a Homecoming win like it did a year ago, falling 45-37 to 10th-ranked USC on Saturday.

The Wildcats (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) dropped their third straight game and now must win three of their remaining four in order to be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2017. That will be hard to do against the opponents the UA still has to face, but even being in that position at this point in the season is one of many signs the the turnaround Jedd Fisch has been promising is not that far away.

“That was as competitive a football game as we we’ve been in,” Fisch said. “We’ve had some really good ones around here since I’ve been here. But we are just getting better. And I think that was a step in the right direction on this build. And I’m excited to see where our team can go.”

Our full game recap can be found here. Below is what Fisch discussed after the loss:

On USC: “Really good team we just played. I see why they’re a top 10 team in the country.”

On Arizona hanging around: “I felt that our guys competed all the way through the game, and I thought it was one heck of a football game. I thought that there was not a time in the game that we didn’t think we were gonna win the game. There was not a time in the game that we didn’t feel we could go head to head with that team. And we did. We went head to head, toe to toe, had a chance for an onside kick toward the end in a one-possession game.”

On getting within one score late against ranked teams the past 2 games: “(USC) just found a way to get one more score than we have. And I think that it’s a matter of, as we’re building it, I think if you look at the way the USC team over the last, let’s call it four years of classes that they brought in, Washington’s classes that they brought in the last four years, I think that they’re continuing to to grow and develop the players they have. I think we’re continuing to grow and develop the players we have. We’re playing with a lot of younger players than probably those teams are. I think we started six true freshmen tonight. So sometimes that’s gonna happen. Hats off to Washington, hats off to USC, they got good teams, good offense, and we’re coming for them.”

On if he believes in moral victories: “No. I’m a believer in the concept of getting better. And I think that, as I said to our team, you’re not going to win every battle to win a war. But we’re going to just go fight in every battle, and we’ll win enough of them here as we continue on this process. The word moral victory, not really for me. It’s just a matter for us is how did Arizona football play today. And I thought we played well.”

On if last year’s team could have come back after trailing 31-16 in third quarter: “The one thing we were really proud of last year was that things really didn’t fall apart as much as we just didn’t have enough firepower to catch up. I think that was really what happened a year ago, that if we got down, let’s call it 17 points or 14 points or two scores, we really didn’t have to juice. I think that our team—I know that our team believes that they have the juice now. When you feel like you have that, you don’t really get as concerned, maybe we would have let’s call it a year ago, personnel-based.”

On missed opportunities: “A couple of possessions ended in field goals that I would have liked to end to touchdowns. Obviously I’d like to see when we’re 1st and goal on the 2, second and goal on the 1, not to have a 5-yard loss on a run. And I thought that probably Dorian (Singer) could have scored down the sideline. When he hit a 73-yard pass you got to finish with a touchdown.”

On how the game played out: “I thought it was the exact game that I expected, I thought that our offense was going to do well. I thought that their offense was going to do well. And we were not disappointed in that. It was that type of game.”

On Arizona’s defense: “I thought our defense played very well under the circumstances of going against (the) No. 18 offense to the country. They made some stops. There (were) some stops that weren’t stops but they felt like stops.”

On the final defensive possession: “First down stop, second down stop, third down stop. They had 4th and 1 and they barely got it or we had the ball back with a minute left to go 60 (yards.)”

On Jayden de Laura: “I think we have the best quarterback that I’ve ever been around in college football. And I love the fact that he’s a sophomore. I just enjoy our team very much, and I think the fact that we have such a young team with such great passion and energy, it bodes very well for the future.”

On where de Laura has improved the most: “I think he’s making really, really good decisions. He’s learning our offense better and better. Sometimes I feel like we have like this pitcher-catcher (relationship). I give him a signal and he kind of shakes me off, (so I) give him another signal. He would never have done that early on, but now he’s feeling more comfortable in what we want to get done. And I feel more comfortable. I would say early on, I would have just said you run what I call, but now I trust him that he now can communicate better with me, like ‘Coach I know what the play is, I know what all five eligibles are going to do. I don’t feel as comfortable with this as that.’ And I think that’s the growth we’re seeing from him. He’s a phenomenal player. I mean, really. He (gained) 75 yards and threw for 380, (455) total yards of offense. One interception, which I would say was a great play by their safety—number 27 kind of came down and robbed the backside out and rob the backside. I think he’s just getting better each week. I want to get better every week, aor as long as he’s a Wildcat, just get better every single week. And I think we’ll be very happy with where he’ll be over the course of his next few years.”

On Jerry Roberts getting called for a personal foul in the 4th quarter: “I thought we had a 3rd and 8 stop. That was my thought process at the moment, and then I saw a flag. I haven’t seen the replay. I haven’t seen what happened. I thought we got them off the field. And I thought that was what was going to happen in that situation.”

On Dorian Singer: “I think Dorian is spectacular. His ball skills, there’s some catches out there, I mean, there’s some plays that he makes that I don’t even know what to say about them, really. They’re tremendous. They’re fantastic, one-handed catch falling backwards with his left hand. I mean, there’s some things that are just cool. Sometimes you just look at it, and like that was a cool play. And that’s what he does. Now, I’ll say this: he does it in practice. It’s not like you guys are the only guys who get to see them on game day. This kid does those plays in practice. He has that knack and he has that ability, and I’m glad we have him.”

On Jonah Coleman, who left after Arizona’s first offensive play: “I think he’ll be fine, I think it’d be fine for the (Utah) game. We could have put him in in an emergency situation. Just a soft tissue deal that, I didn’t want it to get worse. But I would expect him to be full go practice. Maybe limited tomorrow and then full go for the week.”

On having new starters on defense: “It was great to see (Ta’ita’i Uiagalelei and Ephesians Prysock) ... out there for their first ever start. Jacob Manu is going to be a very, very good football player for us, and he got another start there and he’s done well. Tacario Davis was out there I think on the first third down of the game and then all of our dime packages. Great to have him out there. Isaiah Taylor played a lot more this week.”

On why so many members of the 2022 recruiting class are able to play as true freshmen: “I think the biggest thing for them is they all came in as winners. They won in all their high school games that they played, for the most part, they were all on very good teams with very good records. Number two, as they continue to get into our weight program ... Ta’ita’i’s gained 25 pounds. (Jacob) Kongaika has gained 14 pounds. Guys are now beginning to grow into being college football bodies. Ephesians Prysock has gained 13 pounds, so now I suddenly feel much more comfortable putting them in because they’ve been with our strength stuff. I believe Tyler Owens does a phenomenal job with our guys. Now he’s got them going and now we feel really comfortable being able to play some of the guys that just got here from high schools.”

On the difficulty in trying to sack USC QB Caleb Williams: “I think Caleb Williams is always hard to sack, not just tonight. Going back and looking at some of the games that he’s played this season, he very rarely gets sacked. He’s like Jayden, they’re very elusive in their own ways. Different ways. Different but same. The two sacks that we took were just wacky sacks, we just go beat right off the bat.”

On seeing USC be unable to get a final play before halftime: “I thought that was great. It’s always the biggest issue I’m telling you, as a play caller, when you have that like 11-second mark with no timeouts and you’re trying to figure out can I get a play called and spike or not. They hit a deep one. When you hit a deep pass, now you got to get everybody down there and try to get your spike, and it wound up that they couldn’t get it done.”

On having Gronk around for Homecoming: “I think it is so awesome when guys like that come back. He has been phenomenal. He was at our practice on Thursday, he came to our team dinner at Mr. An’s on Thursday night, and he was right there for us every step of the way.”