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What Jedd Fisch said at his press conference to open Washington State week

arizona-wildcats-football-jedd-fisch-press-conference-quarterbacks-usc-wsu-penalties-delaura-fifita Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The game planning has begun for Arizona’s third straight ranked opponent, No. 19 Washington State, but part of that process includes a careful review of the previous game. And upon further review, UA coach Jedd Fisch was even more impressed with his team following its 43-41, triple-overtime loss at unbeaten USC on Saturday night.

“No real change from how I felt after the game, other than probably more proud of what our guys accomplished,” Fisch said Monday. “When you watch how our team played, what our team did that game, it was really a fantastic football game with a disappointing outcome.”

Here’s what else Fisch discussed at his press conference to open Washington State week:

On what’s keeping Arizona from winning the close games: “I don’t know what’s not allowing us to. I’d say if we hit on a 2-point play on the second time and (USC) don’t get theirs we would have won the game. If T-Mac against Mississippi State doesn’t go out of bounds by an inch then we score a touchdown on that play and we would go up 28-14. There’s just plays in these games, we have double move with Jacob Cowing against Washington and we overthrow it. That’s just what the game is. But when I look at our team, I don’t think there’s any reason, per se, that I could point to that says why we won or why we didn’t win. We just have to make one more play than we made at the right time and we could be sitting here having a much different conversation and probably be the story of college football.”

On Noah Fifita winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week: “Pretty awesome, and rightfully so. Five touchdown passes, 300 yards, played against the Heisman Trophy winner and went to triple overtime in his second-ever start. I can think of maybe four to five plays he’d want back out of the 35 pass attempts. I think he should be the Freshman of the Week. I was surprised Jacob Cowing wasn’t the Offensive Player of the Week. Four touchdowns, 10 catches against ‘SC is a pretty big deal.”

On vocal fans (and former players) who want Fifita to be the full-time starter: “We decide what we think is best for the program from everything that we know what to do and see. And we don’t just listen to others in that decision. When it comes down to decide who the starting quarterback is, when we played USC last year and lost 45-37 and Jayden threw three touchdown passes, ran for another, and then had 387 yards passing, everybody was clamoring that he should have been the player of the week. I think that everybody has short term memories. Everybody likes to live in the now, in the present. Noah has done a fantastic job, and having two quarterbacks is better than none. I think we’re in a very good place at the quarterback position as we move forward.”

On dealing with a quarterback controversy: “I would also say that I’ve lived through a lot of these. I’ve lived through a lot of these. I lived through situations where your starting quarterback was playing, he earned himself that position, the backup quarterback comes in, the backup quarterback plays well, the starting quarterback goes back in and the starting quarterback plays even better than he’s ever played. I’ve seen it the other way. I’ve seen them in every way, shape or form over 25 years, 20 of them coaching quarterbacks. I look forward to both of those guys getting better every week, and we’ll figure out as we go, how that process works. I think that everybody is looking for wins. And that’s what everybody’s excited about it. We started the season 3-1, we’ve lost the last two in a row and our goal is to get back on the winning side of things this week.”

On Jayden de Laura’s health: “He’s healthier than he was last week. He’s better than he was a week before. And we’ll let that play out as we as we roll into this next game. If he is 100 percent healthy he will start on Saturday, and if he’s not then Noah will start on Saturday. And that’s the way we’ll go.”

On what it would have taken for Arizona to go for 2 in the first OT: “Do you love your 2-point play? Right off the bat. We called a 2-point play earlier in the game when it was 28-26, so let’s that we called our No. 1 2-point play the game. Now we’re going to our second-best 2-point play. We held Caleb (Williams) to one yard rushing in the fourth quarter, 43 yards passing. Our defense had no problem stopping their offense. To decide to put it in my hands, as the play caller, and the quarterbacks hands, with our let’s call it with a 2-point play that I knew we were gonna have to go to next, it didn’t seem that we didn’t need to do that at that moment in time. As the offensive coordinator I would have done it, I would have pushed for it. But as the head coach, I got to stand there and talk to the defense and say you guys have played better than any team is played this team in two years. You guys the Heisman Trophy winner to one yard rushing and 40 yards passing in the fourth quarter. So I’m gonna take it into my own hands and either win or lose the game on one play. And I didn’t feel that that was the right thing to do.”

On avoiding roughing the passer penalties for late hits: “In practice, it’s easy because they know they have to stay so far away from them they’re like peeling off quickly. And you make such a point of emphasis in practice of don’t go near the quarterback. Don’t go near them, because of the fact that those things can happen. So then you get into a game and you make such a point of emphasis of being physical, hitting the quarterback. Every chance you have, if you could be close to the quarterback and be in the position to make a play, make the play. There is that fine line of discipline of pulling off at the last possible second. I don’t think that Justin (Flowe) needed to have that final shove. Do I think it impacted anything? No, but I think it was probably not necessary after the throwaway on third down. There was another one that I could think of that didn’t necessarily look to be close enough to say that that was a necessary call, but we’ve got to be great in terms of staying away from the quarterback. We’ve got to be great in terms of being disciplined in that regard. And we have to understand, if you’re more than one step away you can’t hit them. That’s something we have to practice on with stand-up dummies, that’s something we have to practice with our D-line drills. know, stand up dummies and so then we have to practice with our D line drills. That’s something we have to continue to emphasize not being in position where that can affect the game.”

On his message to de Laura if he plays against his former team: “My message to Jayden is always the same. That when you play with poise, and when you play with confidence, you’re one of the best quarterbacks in the country. And you’ve proven that. I think he’s third or fourth in the country in passing yards over his game, he’s started 32 games. He’s come here and has won eight games, 8-8 as a starter here. And when he plays like he does in the eight that he started when we won, he was very poised and didn’t let emotions get in the way of the game. When he played against Washington, when he played against USC, he never let the emotions get in the way the game and played great football. Both games were fantastic games for him. If he plays like that, I know that we can compete with anybody in the country. But if the emotions get the best of them, or of any player, they’re never going to be at their best. So we have to ignore the noise. We have to be able to play smart, good football, not turn the ball over, protect the team, and make great decisions. That’s the message that I’ll give him. The fact that he’s going back to Pullman, I guess it’s a big deal. I don’t think it’s a really big deal, though. I mean, we played them already, we didn’t play very well, we lost 31-20. And our job is to play better than that with a much better team that we had a year ago.”

On going with the failed 2-point play in the third OT: “We ran it six times for 111 yards prior to that play. And we didn’t block it right the (seventh) time. We had the mike linebacker there and we need to block the mike linebacker and we busted on that one rep. And if we did block it right then we’d all be sitting here at 43-all and go to a fourth overtime. We felt really good about that run. Looking back on it, I still feel really good about that run. And I would just say that we need to execute that better.”

On throwing deep on 1st down on the final drive of regulation from the edge of field goal range: “I expected them to play field cover two, field six, which they played, and we felt as if we were going to be able to have an opportunity to get T-Mac down the sideline. And we left it too far inside, which caused T-Mac to have to leap inside to try to make an acrobatic catch. It’s probably a play that we called 50 times in the last three years and we just wound up throwing an incompletion.”