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What Jedd Fisch said at his press conference to open Oregon week

arizona-wildcats-football-jedd-fisch-press-conference-2022-territorial-cup-asu-pac12 Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona has alternated wins and losses this season. And while the opponent each week has played a role in that, there’s something to be said about what, if anything, the Wildcats have learned from each performance and used it to prepare for the next game.

That was the mindset Jedd Fisch and his staff had when reviewing film from the 43-20 victory over Colorado on Sunday and how it can help Arizona for this week’s matchup against No. 12 Oregon.

“Saw a lot of things that we felt we could build upon,” Fisch said. “Saw a lot of things that we thought we did well but can do better. Complimentary football last week. We’re going to need complimentary football this week. This is going to be a great challenge for our team.”

Here’s what else Fisch discussed at his Monday press conference:

On Jayden de Laura: “I think that he’s going to be somebody that will continue to improve each week. It was pretty, pretty neat to see how he played, and the fact that we’ve only had him for five games. You look around the league and look at the quarterbacks and the head coaches, the relationships that they’ve had with their guys for a very long time. Even in this case, with Bo Nix, coming from Auburn where their offensive coordinator was at prior (to Oregon). I’m just looking forward to just Jayden getting better every single week.”

On his relationship with de Laura: “Every week we continue to build trust. He was 20 for 29 against North Dakota State and no turnovers. Against Cal he threw for 401 yards and continued to move the ball, this week he did it again. I think every day we build more and more trust, and that’s what it comes down to. This is year one, game five for us. And he’s a sophomore coming out of a run-and-shoot system, so the more time he spends in our system, the better he’s going to be. And he has all the gifts physically. So it’s now a matter of just continuing to improve in the system.”

On de Laura checking down more often: “As we are spending more time together in the film room there are some opportunities, especially on early downs, to be able to find completions. I think he was a 71 percent passer this past game. And when you’re when you’re at that number, it’s because you’re able to say no, yes, rather than No, I’ll wait ... and then something bad happens. And what he’s been able to do and what he’s really emphasized is, the more you can see things quicker, the more he can get the ball out of his hands, faster, less hits, and more to the playmakers quicker.”

On how Arizona’s receivers compare to others Fisch has worked with in college: “It’s a very good receiving corps. I’ve been very fortunate. We had a bunch of first-rounders at Miami the two years I was there. At Michigan Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson were both drafted in the third and fourth round. Eric Decker at Minnesota. At UCLA, Jordan Lasley and Darren Andrews were both NFL players, but this is certainly a good group and it’s fun to coach them.”

On Keyan Burnett taking on a bigger role: “Keyan is gonna have to step up. It’s a next man up mentality. He’s gonna have to play more than he was probably expecting to play, let’s call it a couple of weeks ago. He’s extremely athletic. He is 238 pounds. He’s strong. He can run, he catch, but it’s college football now and you’re now blocking defensive ends that are big and strong and some older than you, and he’s going to have to not just be a pass catcher. I expect him to be able to run behind him, to have him cut off the backside ends if we’re running away from him. And really, in general, I think he is just going to grow up fast.”

On if Tanner McLachlan’s role changes with Alex Lines’ departure: “Tanner is playing the same position as he played. In our zebra package, he’s the only tight end in the game. Alex and him were rotating, so Tanner will take more of those reps. Keyan will take some of those reps, Roberto (Miranda) or Tyler (Powell) might come in for a few of those. And then, when we get into our two tight-end sets, it’s a pretty balanced formation, so whichever side you’re on you’re on but. For the most part Tanner’s role is not really changing too much, but potentially expanding here or there.”

On McLachlan’s blocking: “I think that Tanner, the more confident you feel as a blocker, the more you’re gonna continue to drive players down the field, the more you’ll use your feet rather than just trying to block with your hands. And what Tanner did was kept his feet moving, and he kept him engaged, so you kept seeing kind of the defender moving with him backwards. And when you have that, that’s just great effort. And it’s also the determination to block through the whistle rather than just assume the player’s blocked.”

On Tetairoa McMillan: “When you watch T-Mac this past week, the blocking showed up. We used him on a critical 3rd and 3 where we ran a quarterback sweep play where he blocked the defensive end and did a really nice job with that. I think he saw some blocking downfield. Still needs to get better with his run blocking, his pass blocking. There was a screen that we threw to Cowing, that was a 3rd and 20, that we got tackled two yards short of the sticks. We could have completed that block better and gotten in the end zone. But T-Mac is improving every week. I expect a better game out of him this week than last week, but you know when it comes to being a true freshman and starting and playing 65 plays in the game you have to start building up that callus of being able to just get better, get stronger and get tougher. And he’s doing all of those three things, it’s pretty cool to watch.”

On Jacob Cowing: “He’s fast, he’s twitchy. He has the ability to see space in front of him. Football is a big game of geometry, and when you can see space and you’re able to have an idea of angles, is what I think he does really well. I think he can understand what angle a defender is coming at him, and he does a nice job of avoiding.”

On if he was concerned Cowing’s play at UTEP could translate to the Pac-12: “I wasn’t, because I think when you look at his skills, his true skills of catch, run and you could see him pulling away from defenders. And when you can see a guy pull away from defenders you kind of can translate that our level. To being able to do it in Pac-12 games. He’s gonna have to have a good game this week. We need Jacob to have his best game. And we know that, with these defenders, they’re going to be physical, they’re going to be very well coached, they’re tough, and for Jacob in this game it’s going to be a great challenge.”

On how de Laura and Cowing have gelled so quickly: “I think it’s a credit to those two kids and their coaches. Jimmie and Kevin have done a great job, Coach Cummings and Coach Doherty, connecting those guys pre-practice post-practice, making sure that they’re always getting some extra work in. Those two guys are very close. But it’s not just those two, it’s now Dorian (Singer) getting involved in the picture, and T-Mac of course. The ability to just kind of use the summertime and use training camp post-practices to just get maybe another rep. The more comfortable you are communicating, like hey, if they do this I’m gonna break in, or if this corner stays high I’m going to do whatever. The more comfortable they are to talk with each other the more players could just be players out there. That’s what Mike Wiley is. Mike Wiley is just a ballplayer. There’s some things that Mike does sometimes I’m like, hey, what just happened there? And he’s like, well, I saw this or I saw that, and that’s what really good players can do.”

On Wiley’s in-play adjustments: “The first touchdown he caught he was not necessarily designed to run that route, per se, he was more a checkdown on the left side of the tackle box, but he just saw this space occur right in front of them and he said, if I go right right here, I’m gonna be wide open right in front of Jayden’s vision, but if I hang right on the left, the Will linebacker can attach to me. And he just kind of was a player, and he just made a big time play and Jayden saw him right away. Gave it to him and walked into the end zone.”

On how the defense played vs. Colorado: “Defensively I thought we had a good game. The more I watched it, the more plays I saw on film that were to be had. I thought our guys played with great passion and energy.”

On tackling and gap integrity: “We need to continue to improve in all those areas as well. Ten missed tackles for 65 yards. Can’t have it. You’re gonna always have a missed tackle or two in all leagues, and you’re certainly going to have them in our league where you have a lot of skill players, but you want to try to minimize that, the missed tackles. You need to create a couple tackles for losses, and then make it hard to run. So we’re going to spend all week long talking about gap fits, talk about running fits, talk about being where we need to be, and we’ll drill tackling every single day this week as we did last week to see if we can be a little bit better at it.”

On getting more young players in the game on the defensive front: “Number one, we don’t want to have the same four defensive linemen play every snap. It’s a it’s a physical game. You’re up front, your guys are trying to wear on you a little bit. Coach (Johnny) Nansen, when we hired him, one of the biggest things that he’s shown over the different teams he’s been with is the amount of defensive linemen that play and rotate. We weren’t getting enough of that, and we needed to make a decision that we’re going to play freshmen in the rotation. Our depth was coming from two freshmen. Jacob Kongaika, Ta’ita’i (Uiagalelei), Deuce Davis, Deuce Lane. So when you’re using your true freshmen in depth, you have to make that decision that you’re willing to live with some of the things that can happen, and that’s what we decided to do.”

On trick plays: “Most of the plays that that we run in the game have been practiced numerous times throughout, might have gone in three or four weeks ago, might have gone in in training camp. Just kind of looking at certain coverages that you want to run certain plays for, you need to be able to get certain indicators that you could run a certain play and then feel, do you feel it’s the right time to call it? Is there a reason to call it? Do you feel like they’re overpursuing on the back side so you can do certain things to to open it up. Hopefully as you go through, I think that there’s always a place for an opportunity to take a shot at one of those, weekly, bi-weekly, something to that effect. They don’t always work and they’re just another play.”

On when to call one: “I think it’s more in terms of, you have to look at a trick play as just another play. When you look at it more than that, you start thinking to yourself, do I save it, do I not save it? When do I call it? How important is it? Is this going to change the game, change the outcome? And I don’t think that’s the most beneficial, because we shouldn’t put any more emphasis on any play. It’s just like the first play of the game. What should we call the first play of the game? Oh, God, I don’t know what to do. That’s really not the case, right? It’s just a play. If you hit on it, it’s first down again and if you don’t it’s 2nd and 10. We all have these conversations with ourselves. Trick plays, or whatever they are, gadget plays, to us it’s like hey it’s the right time to call it, we’re going to call it at this moment. We design plays for certain parts of the field, and then when we get to that part of the field, we’ll use it.”

On the status of safety Jaxen Turner and Tia Savea for the Oregon game: “I believe Jaxen is going to be full go, and Tia is day to day, but we’re still evaluating just because we only had one day of practice.”

On 5 FBS coaches getting fired in the first 5 weeks of the season: “Disappointing. I think that there’s a lot of people that get affected by coaching changes. You have a lot of assistant coaches, you have a lot of assistant coaches’ families. You have players that have committed to those coaches that now feel like they let someone down. You have scenarios where there are people that are committed to trying to help programs and to those coaches and things are changing constantly. It’s an unfortunate part of the business. I don’t like it for anybody and I think it’s a sad day when the coaches get let go.”