clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What Jedd Fisch, Noah Fifita and Jacob Manu said after Arizona’s win over Oregon State

arizona-wildcats-football-jedd-fisch-noah-fifita-jacob-manu-comments-oregon-state-beavers Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats defeated the No. 11 Oregon State Beavers 27-24 Saturday night. Our recap of the game can be found here.

After the game, coach Jedd Fisch, quarterback Noah Fifita and linebacker Jacob Manu spoke to the media. Here’s what they said.

Fisch on his overall thoughts on the win: “That was a great win. Great win by the team. We certainly appreciate our fans tonight. Start with that. I thought was by far the best third and fourth quarter that we’ve had in terms of the amount of people that were here and that’s the expectation. The expectation is we just keep building. And next week, we’re gonna need everybody. We need a sold out crowd next week for sure. But I want to first off hats off to Oregon State. I have so much respect for Coach Smith. He does it the right way. He’s built his program really, really in a way that we all try to emulate. It was just was one of those games where almost everything was equal. 30 rushes, 29 rushes. 62 plays, 62 plays. 27 first downs, 24 first downs. Whatever it might have been. But the final score was a field goal game, and that’s what it felt like we watched the whole time. And I’m glad that we came out on top.”

On Arizona’s resilience: “Hats off to our team. I think our team had a fantastic resilience about themselves. We didn’t really look at the score. They went down, they scored 7-0. Then we kicked a field goal 7-3, then we took the lead. They tied it up. And then we took the lead and they took the lead. It was one of those great games that went back and forth, back and forth, as we expected in that fourth quarter. I think everybody just raised it up a notch. And I think that’s a credit to our players, to coach Owens, to the way we train, to our mentality. We always say we don’t win the game in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, alright? We win the game in the fourth quarter. And that was a pretty awesome job.”

On Jacob Manu and Noah Fifita’s performances: “Jacob had another great game. Made tackles, made some huge hits out there. Just felt him lead the defense. Noah did a fantastic job leading the offense. He made some huge plays for us at times when we needed big time plays, and he made them. Mike Wiley also had a tremendous game as well. It was great to have him back. But I would say really all in all, it was a great team win. All three phases contributed to the win and it was a blast to coach that game and I can’t wait for next Saturday. That’s the best part about this we get to do it again next week.”

On Arizona excelling on all sides of the field late in the game: “It’s what we strive to be. We strive to be a full team. We don’t want to be just a team that goes out there and focuses on one side of the ball or the other. We’re a team, I believe that’s how you win games. The great teams that I’ve had a privilege to coach on that’s how we won. We didn’t win just by being a great offense or being a great defense or being great at special teams. You really win championships when all three phases work together, and I thought that fourth quarter it kind of all clicked together, we were able to run ball, stop the run, put them in third and longs, get off the field on defense. Obviously finish the game off on offense.”

On Fifita’s game management: “I thought Noah had a great game tonight. Did a great job in managing the game. As always, we always look back and we always want to take a play two or three and learn from them. He did a fantastic job at running the team and in a situation where the game was going back and forth. It showed great poise and composure and everything we always expect out of him.”

On the defense stepping up against a different style of play: “Well I think what we talked about the last three weeks we’ve kind of been going against pretty similar defenses in that spread concepts and the open formations and this was the total opposite. Bye weeks ... gives you an opportunity to really focus in on a new, a really different style of play. And our defense had to respond to that and to hold down 10 points in the first half, two scores in the second half I just thought all and all we put a really good physical defense against their offense.”

On Oregon State’s fake field goal at the end of the half: “I don’t really ever look at other people’s calls because everybody has their reasoning and their why. We always look at should you go field goal. ... If Noah’s punt didn’t work out, they would have questioned me for having Noah punt in the second half. Right? But instead Noah punts it down there and we’re on the five yard line and they’re backed up and we might not kick a punt return to win the game. So I don’t ever question anybody else’s decisions. That’s a really smart team over there with a smart coaching staff. I’m sure they felt really good about that call.”

Manu on what changes the defense made after the first drive: “We were just telling them keep playing. Trust the process. We need to start faster as we know but just be resilient.”

Fifita on Wiley’s impact: “He’s good. He’s a veteran player for us and he’s a leader. He just brings a different type of swag, a confidence into the huddle that can’t really be emulated. So kind of just him coming in talking to us, and just know that he’s always gonna be able to make a play. He can turn a flat round into a 30 yard touchdown. So he’s just a very special time with the ball in his hands, even more special as a leader and as a person.”

Fisch on the defense holding an opponent to under their season scoring average for the fourth straight week: “I think we watch it every week. We watch how our defense comes up with big stops at the right time. And red zone defense has been a huge priority for us and keeping these guys out of the endzone. Making a big stop. This is a team that scored every single time they were in the red zone up until this game. This the first time that they didn’t score in the red zone. They were three for four this week. And that one stop is the game. We were three for three. So we’re sitting here now at 32 for 34 in the red area. Our defense is continuing to keep teams at that 75% which is fantastic.”

Fisch on Arizona’s success running the ball in the second half: “Really I felt like we were able to run the ball down in the second half. We got that one holding penalty that we would have been at first and 10 at the plus 30 after two huge runs. We had a 15 yard run and a 22 yard run. And then we got that holding penalty which made it second and 20, and then we got the grounding which made it third and 30. ... But I felt really good about leaving that run game in there in the second half and kind of use that to our advantage and that’s kind of what we’ve become. We’ve become a team that can be physical, make plays when the opportunity presents itself, but I think we can wear some guys out.”

Manu on the game feeling like a brawl: “I think it’s pretty accurate. I’ve got to give a shoutout to Oregon State. We knew it was going to be a physical game.”

Fifita on what the last few weeks have been like emerging as QB1: “It’s definitely been a blessing. I don’t take that lightly, being able to be in this role, a leadership role and a quarterback role and just have people trust me. The last few weeks has been great. I think the trust part is probably the best part about it. Play calling hasn’t changed. Confidence and belief in my teammates hasn’t wavered, and so that’s what you go for. The wins are great, but being able to win the locker room and being able to have relationship with those guys, that’s the best part.”

Fisch on what happened on the interception: “I think what happened was we just kind of they dropped the guy underneath the return route and should have kicked it out to Kevin Green. We got caught up a little bit. They dropped a guy underneath, we had a guy on the other side that we want to throw that ball to.”

Fisch on how Arizona should have played the onside kick: “Yeah, that was a weird one. We probably need to be more aggressive on that kick. That kick was kind of looking like it wasn’t gonna go 10 yards and then it went 10 yards, and then it went 13 yards, and then it became like one of those scary plays right in front of your face, which was right in front of mine at the time. But we want to be able to knock it out. We did a good job of protecting the front line. So we had about three bodies that could have gotten it, but I’d like to see us field that earlier, so then you get it at about seven or eight yards and they can’t touch it. You get a little more aggressive but I got to see exactly how the blocking scheme went there. But it was a good kick.”

Fisch on prioritizing punt returns in practice: “Yes. We’ve made a huge focus on the punt return game and the importance. You talk about trying to get one first step. So if you can punt return for 10 yards and you’ve got one more first down for the offense. I thought (Jacob Cowing) had two tremendous — he had a 36 return and a 20 yard return which was just a huge return in the game. It really all worked in sequence, right? It was backed up, pin them back, get the punt, have a great return, play great defense. And then Jacob’s 20 yard return was huge.”

Manu on what has led to the defense’s improvement this year: “I have to give a shoutout to the coaches. Coach Nansen and Akina, the way they coach us and they push us just physical defense. At the end of the day that’s what we’re trying to be.”

Fisch on Fifita’s mentality: “I think that there’s no flinch. There’s no flinch in Noah. And really, I think I learned that when he was at Servite. And when you talk to these guys, you talk to Jacob, you talk to T-Mac, you talk to Keyan, ‘What’s he like? What kind of quarterback are we getting?’ The biggest thing you learn from is that you’re gonna get the same guy every day, and that gives you poise and that gives you confidence and that gives you the ability to go out there and and really not flinch. I think he showed that tonight.”

Fifita on where he gets his poise from: “My dad kind of raised me in these situations to be able to be cool. And then depending on my faith, my confidence and my coaches and my preparation. So that’s kind of where I find my voice. Just kind of going back to the confidence that my coaches have in me. If they trust me, why not trust them. Coach Fisch has trusted me since he got to Arizona.”