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What Jedd Fisch said at his press conference to wrap up regular season

arizona-football-jedd-fisch-noah-fifita-pac-12-territorial-cup-tanner-mclachlan-tetairoa-mcmillan Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona is riding a 6-game winning streak after keeping the Territorial Cup back in Tucson. And for the first time under Jedd Fisch, UA will be heading to a bowl game later in December.

“We were 2-1 to end (last) year and then 9-3 so 11 of our last 15," Fisch said Monday. "I would say we found a way to continue to improve each week. We improved in the offseason, we improved in the winter, we improved in the spring. We kept adding talent, we kept developing talent, we kept getting bigger, stronger, faster. And then from all those areas you wound up finding a spot where you’ve got a lot of guys that can contribute.”

UA has moved up to No. 14 in the AP rankings and No. 15 in the Coach’s Poll after the ASU win.

Here’s what Fisch had to say about the victory of ASU, the pending bowl game and other topics:

On what stood out about Noah Fifita after reviewing the tape of the ASU win: “Well he threw the ball really well in the game, that’s for sure. Had a couple opportunities that we missed, certainly had a chance to probably have a touchdown at the end of the half that we just didn’t come down with the ball, had a third down play and then threw an interception on the five-yard-line which should have hit Jacob (Cowing) for a touchdown there. Outside of those couple plays, I think he was pretty close to perfect, the way he played. One of the ball that Jacob didn’t come down with, it was a perfect ball. The decision there on the goal line was not but you take those couple plays out. He was as good as any quarterback that I’ve been around in regards to decision making in regards to accuracy, getting out of trouble, completing the ball downfield and completing the ball mid-range. And I mean, obviously finding T-Mac, finding Jacob finding Tanner (McLachlan) and finding Mike (Wiley). All those guys had big games."

On Tanner McLachlan setting the career reception record for a tight end at Arizona: “Super cool for him. We still got another game to play, he gets a chance to set more records, from what I understand. If he can get I think five more catches or something to that effect, that it can be an all the time maybe season or whatever it might be. But he’s been great since he got here, been here a couple of years and came here as a walk-on and we were able to give him a scholarship and then once we gave him a scholarship he never changed. He just kept getting better and better and better and doing things right."

On the importance of getting players their first touches and opportunities: I think a lot of these guys will never play football after the bowl game. Now Roberto (Miranda) probably has another year left, but it was the first time that his parents were in the United States. First time his dad was ever here, and it was Senior Day, and those things matter. A lot of times people questioning why you do something in terms of, whether it be throw the ball at the end of the game, or try to get a you know another completion or a touchdown for Jayden (de Laura) or a completion for Roberto Miranda or a handoff to Naz (Bombata). Get Cole Tannenbaum into the game and take a knee there at the end. But you do it for the kids. This isn’t a professional school. This is college football. And these guys a lot of times won’t have another opportunity to live their dream. And they work every single day to be able to have one chance to do it. So it’s really important to me that we have the ability to do it, based on the score, based on the circumstances or based on the game."

On college football playoffs expanding to 12 teams next season: “I think it’s great to expand it. I think four is too small. There’s no question every other league, every other sport has more than four teams in the playoffs. Obviously a little bit about college basketball today, they go on to the postseason and they just have 68 teams now, go try to win a championship. Our regular season ends and if you’re not one through four, you don’t have a chance to win the championship. I mean imagine if it was just four number one seeds in basketball, and those are the only four that had a chance. It’s just different, it’s that when you play less games, one loss means four and then to not be able to have a playoff with more than four. This is great that we’re expanding it and if it was two years ago, we would be playing Friday night and when we had the Pac-12 south. They still made sure we scheduled the Pac-12 south, We had a Pac-12 South schedule, we played all the teams in the Pac-12 South and then we played some of the teams in the north. And if that was the case we would be playing on Friday night against Washington, but they made that change and just like we will be making the change next year for a 12-team playoff."

On players potentially sitting out in the bowl game: “I think there’s probably gonna be one or maybe two guys that don’t play the bowl game due to either NFL circumstances or injury, whatever it might be. I think if you’re a first rounder, I can see it, I would see not playing it. I think that other than that, I think most guys are playing in it. It’s an opportunity to showcase your skill one more time. I think you have to take a little cost benefit analysis. I think some people take a step back on that. But we’ve talked to a couple of guys about it, most guys I’m expecting to play and I think it’s everybody’s choice, but this is a big time game we’re going to. I would assume we’ll be playing in one of the three games, probably one of two games I guessing. If Oregon and Washington both make the college football playoff then I’m going to assume we will probably play in the Fiesta. Maybe otherwise I would assume we would be in the Alamo Bowl, something to that effect for it looks like. Those are big time games and you got a chance to be in a special game. And if that’s the case, then I would think most guys want to be in it."

On the connection between Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan: “We continue to talk about those two guys and the story is the story right. They played together since eighth grade, they’re best friends. They have a great connection in terms of where they’re going to be on every single play when the balls in the air to go attack it. But I think that they’re both separately very good players too. Sometimes we’re just kind of like combining them and one’s not good without the other. I don’t think that’s the case. T-Mac was a phenomenal player last year, phenomenal player the first four games of this year. Noah has obviously played extremely well since he stepped in, having T-Mac as a receiver for him is obviously something special because they’ve done it for so long. But at the end, they find each other, they work together with each other, but they’re both independently outstanding football players."

On not losing a second quarter during the win streak: “I think that’s just a coincidence. We try to win every quarter, but I don’t think that hasn’t really been anything that’s crossed my mind, regarding the second quarter. I try to hold the ball as long as we can in the second quarter to be able to end with the ball in our hands. We had a chance at it the other day when we wounded up missing a field goal. Missing a touchdown and missing a field goal that was very disheartening. You know, we could have been 41- or 45-7. I would have liked that better but other than that, I don’t know, It’s just probably been the circumstances.”

On balancing getting the younger guys better and prepping for a bowl game: “We’re looking forward to at least the first four or five practices being heavily focused on the young players on our roster and a huge focus regarding how good we can get these guys. You know how much we can improve over that time. And then the last two weeks prior to the bowl game will be like a two week Super Bowl prep. Everything will be all game-plan based. So, we will have about four to five practices that will all be about fundamentals and the young guys and getting the young guys better, improving and then we’ll have what ends up being eight practices, and 13 days of meetings and what not of all about the game."

On dealing with the transfer portal leading up to the bowl game: “They would have to come to me and say that they would want to talk about that. I’m not really looking to seek them out, regarding the portal. I don’t necessarily believe a lot of our guys will want to enter the portal. I’m sure there’s always going to be a couple that either don’t envision themselves being able to become a starter here or don’t envision themselves becoming number two on the depth chart here and wanting to go and try to do that somewhere else. There’s other guys that may seek an opportunity elsewhere due to circumstances beyond our control. But I don’t necessarily envision a lot of guys coming to me these next couple weeks, but I’m sure there’ll always be some surprises.”

On making sure his coaching staff is taken care of before signing an extension: “Before I get my contract we’re going to make sure that all the coaches are taken care of here. All the assistant coaches will try to certainly compensate them accordingly. We understand it’s a very competitive atmosphere out there in the profession. And the most important part of my contract is that our salary pool for our assistant coaches continues to increase and that we’re able to keep our staff in check. It’s been very, very important the consistency of our staff, which has enabled us to win. so, before I worry about myself, I want to make sure we take care of them.”

On McMillan getting open against ASU: “He’s really good. Number one, so he’s a really good route runner. He’s found ways to get open against anybody. Number two, we moved him the whole game. We put him in every different possible spot you could play in, whether that be through motion or through stacked alignments or bunched alignments, so they can’t always find where he was at. And the guy made a ton of plays for us down the field, intermediate, in the screen game and we just continued to do that during the game."

If an NFL team were going to come and use the practice facilities again this December: “I don’t think we can do that this year. There wasn’t anybody that I knew of that was coming out here for that time period that needed a place to go and we didn’t really market it with the idea that we’re probably going to have to use our practice space and it’s somewhat limited. So, it worked out well that the first few years the Giants and the Patriots were able to be here but this year we’ll be using it during December."

On coaching in a bowl game at UCLA: “I did it at UCLA, I was the interim head coach during that time, so I had the whole bowl experience. Chip wasn’t involved at all during that time. They hired him after we beat Cal but he stayed away from the team for those four weeks and let us finish it. So, I did have that opportunity as the head coach for the bowl game against Kansas State. And it’s certainly a fun experience. You get to do everything you can to provide for these kids, circumstances that they’ve never had before. there’s a lot of cool parts of the ballgame, especially the ones that we’ll be adding to that. Hopefully we can make it a great experience with staff, the families and kids."