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What Jedd Fisch, Jayden de Laura and Justin Flowe said after Arizona’s Spring Game

jedd-fisch-jayden-de-laura-and-justin-flowe-comments-arizona-wildcats-football-spring-game Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona football held its Spring Game Saturday afternoon, attracting a record spring crowd of 23,273 fans. Team Blue, made up primarily of the Wildcats’ expected offensive starters, defeated Team White 23-19. Our recap of the game can be found here.

After the game, coach Jedd Fisch, quarterback Jayden de Laura and linebacker Justin Flowe spoke to the media. Here’s what they said.

Fisch on his takeaway from Spring Game: “It seemed like a good day. Two fumbles, no interceptions. Two takeaways for the defense. A lot of water. A out of celebrating. A lot of fun. As I told the team today, 141 days since we won the Territorial Cup, 140 days until we play NAU. So today was exactly halftime of the offseason training. Our goal was for today to try to take these next 48 to 72 hours to have some great celebration of good times together as a football team. Expecting our guys to do a lot together over these next 72 hours and then Tuesday we’ll start lifting. And then at that point in time, it’s about getting bigger, stronger, faster. The football kind of takes a little bit of a backseat and then we see how big and strong we can get. But right now I’m excited about how we walked out of spring healthy. I can’t imagine really any anybody that will not be able to participate the first day of training camp if nothing changes from right now. So, excited about that. Excited about the fan attendance today. That was really cool. Great to have guys like Rob (Gronkowski), Chris (Gronkowski) and Chris (McAlister) and Antoine (Cason) back. 240 alumni checked in last night so all and all great day. Great day to be a Wildcat. I’m looking forward to making Tucson the football town it should be, and I think we’re getting closer to that. But you know, I think we can get a lot better there. I think we can start packing the house every week, and I think we can make this place known for football.”

Fisch on what adjustments the program needs to make this spring: “More food so we can get ‘em bigger. I think extreme focus on details. Really see how good the leadership can take this program. These player-run practices this summer are going to be critical to their success. We’re going to make sure that we stay on top of every aspect of their their growth over these next 140 days. And what we’re gonna see is can we have a better training camp than we had the last two years. Can we focus in on all the right things? Can we get better run defense? Can we do a better job in pass protection? Can we do a better job of finding the right runs against the right fronts? Can we do a better job in the kicking game? Make special teams a priority? How many young guys can help impact our kicking game? All of those things are stuff that we’re digging deep, trying to figure out and our goal is really to come out of this thing on September 3 a different football team than we were today.”

Fisch on Arizona’s front seven: “It was good. We have a lot of new faces. Bill Norton, Tyler Manoa, Orin Patu, Justin Flowe, Daniel Heimuli. Five out of those seven right there are new. And then you start looking at some of the defensive ends, all the young kids that are now growing up and getting better in front of us, I think they’ve shown that leadership is big. Work hard, see how good you ca be. Make a commitment to getting better.”

Fisch on how the defensive came along this spring: “Good. I love the energy they play with. I love the passion that they show every time they walk out there. They took the ball away a lot. They were aggressive. We’re continuing to work on becoming a better zone football team. Understanding what goes into that, being a better run stopping football team, understanding everything that goes into that. But we’ve got 140 days to figure that out, how good we can get and I expect us to get better every one of those days. And if we do that, then I think we can be a really good defense.”

Fisch on whether Jonah Savaiinaea will start at right tackle to begin fall camp: “I don’t know that. I don’t know that. We’ll see what it’ all looks like. There’s a lot of things that can still happen here. We’ve got three or four freshmen still coming in. We’ve got Joe Borjon continuing to get better every day. We have four scholarships open. So there’s always some things that can happen there that can help our football team get better. We’ll play Jonah, the best spot for Jonah. He’s an All-American player. He’s an NFL player, and we’ll make sure that Jonah gets taken care of and he’s able to lead us up front.”

Fisch on balancing fun and training: “Well we try to make it miserable for them every other day. No, I’m just kidding. No, what we try to do is we try to make sure that they understand like there’s a lot of things that go on during a game. There’s a ebbs and flows of a game. And games are hard. Practices are really hard. The spring game doesn’t need to be really hard. The spring game needs to be good football, clean football, good plays. We’re not looking to trick anybody. We’re not looking to to win the spring game. Last time I checked we do not play Arizona. So our goal was really to go out there and be healthy, execute good football, try not to get penalized a lot, and bring a lot of smiles to the Tucson community’s faces. They deserve it. The two guys you’ll hear from have worked very, very hard, and they’ve been asked to do a lot. I can speak on the offensive side specifically, Jayden gets asked to do a lot. He gets asked to do a lot of things outside of the framework of practice and meetings. And when you require so much of a leader and of a captain and of your starting quarterback, you want to see their smile when it comes to something like this.”

Fisch on AJ Jones and Malachi Riley’s catches and their progress this spring: “I think confidence. It comes down to confidence. We want them to go out there and we want them to have a great time competing and to do that they’ll gain confidence. So Malachi catches a long ball on the sideline. AJ had a few catches. He had a slant, he had a go, he had a back shoulder. All of those things are going to help AJ be more confident. And now what they have to do is they have to get bigger, stronger, faster. They have to commit to the weight room. They have to commit to throwing after lifts, they have to go outside when nobody’s watching. They have to see how often they can work on their craft and if they can do that, just like every other coach tells all their players, can we be different and actually do it.”

Fisch on the freshmen who participated in spring practice: “It’s a huge advantage to be here. Genesis Smith did a great job. Kamuela (Ka’aihue). Malachi did a great job. Jackson Holman caught a couple balls. Brayden Dorman did a great job. There’s about four other guys. Rhino (Tapa’atoutai) has taken a million reps. You just keep looking at the amount of good work that those guys have done. I’m forgetting a couple of guys right now, but just watching how they’ve developed, how they’ve grown. And then some new guys. (Charles) Yates, (Martell) Irby that came in mid-year. All those guys have improved. And I saw a bunch of our recruits, or prospects, committed players, guys that signed NLIs or whatever it is here today, get them here June 1 and see how good they can get, but we’re counting on all 112 players on the roster. We’re counting on all 85 scholarships to be filled. And we’re gonna see how good of a football team we can become with all those kids.”

Fisch on what most impressed him this spring: “Jayden de Laura’s maturity, probably. It’s probably the most impressive part of the whole thing, and then I would say the second thing would probably be I feel the offense picked up where they left off. And I feel like the defense made one of the bigger jumps that I’ve ever seen, that I’ve sat through. But overall probably Jayden.”

Fisch on ball security as a concern: “Ball security is always a concern. I wake up thinking about ball security. Making sure that we don't fumble the football and don’t throw interceptions. Those are killers. So yes. And we will do a good job of emphasizing that if we haven’t already. And I think you get what you emphasize. We cut them down, we were negative 18 year one, we were negative six year two. We need to be in the positive this year, and if you can get in the positive, you’re going to win a lot more games.”

Fisch on what areas the defense improved on the most: “Effort. Running to the ball. I’ve never seen a defense go out there and make such a jump in terms of 11 guys chasing after the ball on every play. That’s a huge, huge difference. I think we got after the passer. Justin flowE and company brought a ton of passion and energy to the practice field that is contagious and that will help us get to where we want to go.”

Flowe on how he would describe his spring: “Just a blessing. I just thank God every day I’m able to be here and just to play with these guys and I just love this team. It’s a blessing.”

Flowe on learning Johnny Nansen’s defense: “Johnny Nansen is a great coach and I just love all the energy and passion he brings, because I love to bring it too. I feel like this year is going to be crazy. I can’t wait.”

Flowe on whether it was difficult to pick up the defense: “No, not at all. Coach Nansen, he's just an amazing coach. He gets with you every day, he tries to get as much film work and just linebacker time with you, and you just pick it up quickly with Coach Nansen.”

de Laura on playing with Flowe: “It’s fun. You know what to expect every day at practice. You know them bring the energy. You can hear him on every play, whether he’s talking to us, whether he’s talking to the defense on that side of the ball. So I mean we just get good work in at practice on both sides of the ball which is gonna help us this upcoming season.”

de Laura on how he’s improved this spring: “I’m not going to boost my own ego, but I feel like I’ve done way better than I did last spring. I feel way more comfortable compared to last season and this spring. Just really owning the offense. Really buying into what Coach Fisch, Coach Jimmie (Dougherty), Coach (Brennan Carroll) just laid out for me. They laid me out a framework. Just follow step by step and then just be as successful as the team should be.”

de Laura on hearing Fisch say he's improved in his maturity and leadership: “It makes me feel good. Not only about football but off the field stuff. Just handling school work, handling my off the field kind of really compartmentalizing what's important and what’s not really important in my life. This last season was kind of for me to figure it out and now I just feel like I just focus on football, school and then my time at home.”

de Laura on what he’s noticed about the defense: “One big thing I’ve seen is just all 11 on the defense is really bought into the scheme. Everybody worries about doing their job. They’re focused on their one of 11 jobs. So if someone takes care of their job, they should be able to trust the other person that they’ll get their job done. That’s just really helped them out just from being here last spring and just seeing the growth everybody has taken.”

Flowe on the team bonding this spring: “First came in, coming to a new program and everything, I didn’t know how all the guys were going to bring me in and how the team was going to act and everything. But as soon as I came in, I feel like this team, we all just love each other and we all just want to be the best we can be. I feel like that’s when the energy came in, and that’s when just everything started to change. I feel like this year, just buckle up. We love it.”

de Laura on the team’s chemistry: “For me, I just feel like everybody just like he said loves each other. Like especially me, we just kind of embrace all the new guys coming in. It wasn’t really something that was really felt when me and Jacob first came in, you know what I mean, so we had to make it known that we’re gonna have this locker room, we are all we got in this locker room and we push each other to our max and expect everybody to be the best player that they can be and that’s how we’re going to be successful.”

de Laure on his plans for this summer: “I’m gonna work out the 3D QB in May. Me and my dog are going for a little road trip to Huntington Beach. Stay out there all May and then drive back and then summer workouts start.”

Flowe on meeting Rob Gronkowski: “That was my first time meeting Gronk, and I feel like the experience was crazy. Man, just seeing him in person, he a big guy. I was flexing on him and he was flexing back and I was like, ‘Whoa, he got muscle.’”

Flowe on playing in front of Arizona fans for the first time: “It felt unreal. It just felt like coming from Oregon, coming from all that, it just felt like a new experience and I loved it. I felt like it brings more energy to me, and it just made me want to go harder. Made me want to give my everything to the program. I love Zona, I love the Zoo. I’m so happy to be here.”