The Bulldogs head coach explains how his team is planning on rebounding after last week's 23-13 loss at UTEP.
Oct. 23, 2000
On the UTEP game
"I for sure know how it feels when you leave a stadium after getting beat the way we did. When we left the full stadium after Hawai'i last year because it was a double overtime game where both teams played their hearts out. I thought we played hard against UTEP, but UTEP dominated the game. Now I know how teams feel when they walk up that ramp in Fresno. With the abuse and the comments from the fans. That was a wake-up call for me. In this league, you don't get that very often.
"UTEP is a lot better team than I probably thought they were. And I thought they were good. But I didn't know they were as good as they were. I said before the game last week offensively I thought they were better than Cal...They are a good football team, and they are even better on that turf. I think we have a very fast team, but they were definitely the faster team on Saturday night. Their team was really ready to play, and I was impressed by them."
"I think it's good for our conference to have a team like UTEP really step up. I think that's good for us, and it's good for our conference. I don't think it was a thing where our kids didn't play hard. I think they played hard - we just got out-executed. We just got beat. There's no excuses, and there never is with me...If we play the game five times, I don't know if we win the series the way we took the field the other night. They were the better team in that football game."
"They played with a lot of confidence. They are what we want to be on offense. They can run with the fullback. They have two tight ends, they can do the H-back stuff, they can go to three or four offense. All the things you want to do on offense they can do with their personnel...They've got a really nice offense. [UTEP quarterback] Rocky Perez does a really good job running it."
"Except for the three touchdown drives, which were obvious, outside of that, our defense was really good. We forced seven or nine punts. Our defense played well enough to win. Our offense never got on track. They played a lot of man, kept eight men up in the box. We didn't have the matchups we needed. They had the better matchups on defense. We didn't handle the crowd noise very well."
"We were just dominated in that football game. We did not have the things we could go to in order to get out of trouble. We just didn't have the answers, obviously. We tried a lot of different things, but it just didn't work for us. That's a hard one to stomach."
"Our kids are focused enough to stay the course. Right now, if you listen to everybody else, it sounds like it's the end of the world for Fresno State football. There's five games left. There's still a lot of football left and if we continue to play the way we've always played in the second half of the season, we can still have one heck of a year. I remember last year we came home last year after [a 24-14 loss to] SMU and it was the end of the world, but we still came back to win a WAC championship."
"They through some heavy blows early, and we got staggered on offense. On defense, we recovered. The special teams was dead even. We've got a lot of team speed here, and the team speed was definitely in the favor of UTEP on that turf. We didn't see a film where they looked anything like they looked."
"It definitely opened our program's eyes to UTEP. They are definitely headed in the right direction. We had two very good football teams, and they won."
On the running game
"We need to get a lot better at running the football. Ninety-five yards a game is not what you need to be a good football team. Our running game has me very concerned. You could say against UTEP it was hard to run the ball because they had eight men in the box and were man on the outside. But, you know what, everybody else might do that, too. So we've got to improve on eight-man fronts, which is tough sledding. It takes a lot of physical running. Our play action passing has got to improve off of that."
"We've got to get the running game going, and I say that every week. It's been very disappointing. We've been able to run the football every year since I've been here. Ninety-five yards a game is very, very poor. We spend a lot of time on the run game. I've challenged our linemen and our backs. We've got to do a heck of a job."
On the upcoming game against Tulsa
"We need to focus on the next five games, starting with Tulsa. There's still a lot of good things that can happen to this football team. This team will rally and will be back."
On the Sun Bowl crowd
"This game, the crowd got louder and louder as it went on, and we didn't handle it very well. When they needed to make some big plays on defense, the crowd really got into it. That's something that's really exciting. The fourth quarter, when we needed to get back into it, that's when the crowd was at their best. We got the interception, then we had two offsides then the sack...A lot of it was that our kids weren't moving on the snap count. I think they were getting off the snap quicker than our guys."
On the WAC
"We've got some tough games left. I think the Western Athletic Conference, even though it takes a lot of grief, I think the conference is as good as its been since I've been in it. I'd match UTEP with almost anybody. If you look at their tape with Oklahoma and with Texas A&M, they played pretty darn good football. If you look at TCU, they're playing good football. San Jose State is playing good football. They beat Stanford and had USC on the ropes."