After getting past SMU 14-7, the Bulldogs head coach turns his attention to archrival San Jose State.
Nov. 20, 2000
On the injuries to all the wide receivers
"In this last game, we took a lot of abuse [about the conservative play calling], I think unnecessarily. I've never been through one like that. In the first half, [Charles Smith] got smacked really good twice, and after the second one, he was out. Rodney [Wright], with the cold weather, he just stiffened up. I thought he worked really hard in warm-ups. After we went up to the locker room for 20 minutes, it just wasn't conducive for him. He just tightened up. He had a really good pregame warmup. With the senior day festivities, it was almost 30 minutes from when we left the field to come back down. I don't think that's a good situation for him to excel in. So we had him for one play, but he wasn't the same. He said he was too tight to go. Now that it's over, I'm glad he didn't re-injure [his calf].
"Bernard Berrian's came on the first play of the third quarter on a slant pass. We were really fortunate that it wasn't worse than it was. The [defender] slid down, and as they rolled, he went down on his ankle. He turned his ankle good. If you watched him in practice last night, walking was all he was working on now. But Bernard finished the half, did all fair catches. We had to, because we didn't have Rodney [Wright] or Charles [Smith], so we didn't have another punt returner. David Shabaglian has been playing with a hip flexor. He didn't practice much this week. The timing of the routes was off. Deandre Gilbert had never played "Z" and he had to play "Z." I didn't want to take any chances of running routes that aren't on time and weren't sequenced right. I could just see a ball bouncing off somebody's pads or running the wrong route or at the wrong depth. I didn't want to jeopardize winning that football game because we were trying to do something that was out of character for the people that were in the game at the time."
"That's not the way we've played football in this stadium. That was something we had to do to win the football game. I've seen teams who have been in that position before and given the game away, and we weren't about to do that in a game that big."
"I didn't anticipate going into the game we'd be down to one receiver. And not at the end of the game - after the first play of the third quarter. I don't think we can game plan to anticipate that. But Paris Gaines, Marcellus Armstrong and Jeremy Johnson are going to receive bigger roles this week in practice in learning some other things. If we have to use it, we'll use it. If we don't have to use it, we won't. We'll work them at some positions they've never played. We did some of that with Paris in the last game."
On playing with the injured wide receivers
"We have to make some adjustments. The running game is going to be big for us this week. Everyone is going to know we are going to run. If we can get good mileage out of Bernard, if we can, and get Rodney and Charles...we'll have to do the best we can with what we've got. Despite what people think, in three days you can't just tell Paris Gaines he's a receiver. There's a lot more involved than that. It is sort of a bind right now. We'll have to play great defense, make some big plays on special teams and the offense will have to do the best they can with the personnel we have."
On playing in a bowl
"We just need to get to a bowl game and play. I think those are the rewards for the players. There's a lot of good football teams turning in their equipment and having their final team meeting. And we're going into the final game of the season and we're still in it."
"Getting to a bowl game is what you try to do. I can't help it that we don't have a tournament. I can't help it that we don't get to play Nebraska in a $13 million bowl game. We have no control over that. We need to get into a bowl game and win and keep winning and go into next season when the schedule is set for us and win there and get to where we need to get."
"If we keep playing in bowls and start winning against the Oregon State's and Wisconsin's next year, the faster things will happen. But it won't happen until you win the early stage ones. There's no magic fairy that's going to come in and say you're going to a BCS bowl. So we've got to live within the system and win. That's the key."
On the running game
"Derrick Ward really added spark to us. Those three running plays he had down inside the 8-yard line, we're big time runs. They were physical runs. Paris Gaines had one run that flashed me back to where he was before. I think Paris Gaines each week has been battling through things. He doesn't miss practices and he doesn't miss games. With this game, hopefully he keeps coming on."
"I think this week we get a little more out of Derrick, I think Marcellus [Armstrong] we can get a little more out of. Hopefully we can expand the package. There's just so much you can do with a 20-hour work week and three practices. You don't want to put guys in positions to make mistakes. I think the running backs - that's the most we've had on the field in a game this year."
On if Fresno State has to win this game
"I think there's still a lot of opportunities for us. I don't look at it as a do-or-die. I look at it as if you win the game, you're assured a bowl game. I don't talk about losing. I just talk about winning. I look at the glass as half-full. I look at winning the game and assuring a bowl game. If those things don't happen, I can't control it. I still think we are an attractive team to a bowl."
On stopping SJSU running back Deonce Whitaker
"You've got to penetrate. You've got to make him restart. You can't let him get downhill shots at the holes. We've played against him before, and we know he's a very good running back. We've got some ideas on how to stop him. We had some good ideas LaDainian Tomlinson, and we executed most of the time -- 29 out of 40 times we held him to three yards or less. But he popped the big ones on us. We've got to keep Deonce Whitaker under control and not let him pop the big one on us."
On if Fresno State can get into a shooting match with SJSU
"Depends on how many players we have. If I knew we would have our entire football team, I'd think we could score points. We've shown that. But I don't know if you can go down the schedule and point to a game where we had a full arsenal. Last year, the key guys were with us the entire year. We lost some offensive linemen, but we showed we have good skill people. If we aren't healthy, we're going to have to find ways to score points. Whatever it takes - if it takes seven points or 50 points. Against SMU, when it was 14-0 in the fourth quarter, I thought it would take 14 to win. If it looks like we need 35 to win the game against San Jose State, we'll have to make the adjustment."