The Arizona Wildcats earned a statement season-opening win at San Diego State Saturday, topping the Aztecs 38-20 behind 461 yards of offense. Our game recap can be found here.
After the game, coach Jedd Fisch spoke to the media. Here’s what he said. A full video of his press conference can be found at the bottom.
On his overall thoughts on the win: “Hats off to our players and our coaches for preparing the way they did. Really trusting process of getting better every day and the amount of work that we ask them to put in in the summer and in the training camp. I think it was good that they came out this game and played like they did. They played hard, they played physical.”
On the importance of this victory: “It means that we’re 1-0. We go back tomorrow, and we go to work and we try to go 1-0 on Saturday. The guys played well, and they competed really hard. And what’s important for our guys to continue to play like Wildcats as we’ve said before, trusting the process, playing with passion and loving your teammates, embracing the grind. Practice isn’t gonna get any easier tomorrow. Practice will be just as hard as it will be all week long. We’ve got a really good opponent that we got to prepare for.”
On the impact of newcomers: “I saw that since 2007 no one’s ever caught three touchdown passes in their first game other than Michael Crabtree in ‘07 in a power five game. That’s a pretty big impact that Jacob Cowing made on our football team. I think our red zone was probably better today than it was a year ago because of the guys that came in and joined us. I would say that without a question big Jonah (Savaiinea), as much as he can play. I think he played really well. And then obviously you had Jonah Coleman taking reps at the end of the game, Speedy (Rayshon Luke) taking reps at the end of the game. These guys continued to make plays for us. Then obviously with a quarterback like Jayden de Laura coming in here and being confident and had no flinch in him. Credit to Jimmie Dougherty for getting him ready.”
On overcoming a couple poor offensive possessions: “We try to emphasize every day that this is 2022 and don’t look back. Don’t think that because maybe one thing happened last year and we couldn’t overcome it, that had anything to do with this year. So just play the next play every play and don’t focus in on what could have been or what just happened or how we got caught in one situation or another and just see if we can continue to be mentally tough and be able to just understand that, hey, it’s a 75-80 play game, both sides of the ball and let’s just go out there and execute the next play.”
On the significance of establishing the run: “We made a big point of emphasis in our weight room with Coach (Tyler) Owens and our whole strength staff off getting bigger and stronger and more physical up front. We felt like we we want to be a very good running team. We know that that’s going to help us in every facet of the game, converting on third down, scoring in the red zone. So it was really important that we were able to run the football. For the most part this game we felt like we can call the runs we wanted to call and execute them and that’s a credit to Brennan Carroll and the run plan that he and the offensive staff put together.”
On the importance of executing in the red zone: “It’s important in every game. You’ve got to be able to take the ball away and you’ve got to score in the red zone. We just happened to do it this game. And we have to try to do it every game we play. It’s how you win football games. If you go back in test of time, right? Number one stat is more points than the other team. Number two stat is takeaways. So for us, the only way to score more points is to be better in the red area, and to defend the red area better, which both things we did. And then the second part of it is to get the ball and win the turnover margin. In this case, I think it was a flat at zeros because we turned it over twice, which we can’t do and we took it away twice. So we got to be better. We can’t throw that interception. We certainly should never get a ball stripped out.”
On the defense’s effort: “I think that our defense played great total, all around. They just played really, really good football. If you can’t throw the ball, if you can keep a team under 75 yards passing, they’re gonna run the ball for some, but the fact that we kept the team in total under that 250 yard mark or whatever that was, kudos to them on that.”
On de Laura’s performance: “What else could you ask for? He came in here and was 22 for 35, 299 yards and four touchdowns. So statistically, a pretty good day. He got sacked one time only on a snap that went over his head that time was more important than yards at that point in time. It was a second down and short and went over his head so just fall on it. Don’t try to throw it away in that situation. I think there was another time that he probably would like to get, but for the most part I think he played a fantastic game of football, had great control and was awesome on the sideline.”