Sept. 23, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Matt Wells, along with senior cornerback Nevin Lawson and senior offensive guard Jamie Markosian, held a news conference Monday to recap the USC game and preview its upcoming Mountain West game at San Jose State. A complete transcript of Wells, Lawson and Markosian's remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Matt Wells
Recapping the USC game:
"I feel the same way as I did after the game in the press conference tent. I was very proud of our effort and proud of our young men in the way they competed and the way they prepared during the week. We came out a little short. We played really good in some phases, but football is the ultimate team sport and the ultimate team game. You need all three phases to play really well and we didn't play well enough in all three phases to win the game. It will be a total team loss just like the Utah game was. It starts with me, and I take complete responsibility for that. We'll move on from here. The key from an emotional and a physical weekend and loss is the ability to rebound and prepare and ultimately play well in the next week. We've done that once and that will be the goal this week. At the end of Friday night, the goal is to be 2-0 in the Mountain West. That would be the goal whether we'd won or lost. It's very clear to us that that continues to be where we set our sights on."
Previewing San Jose State:
"They're explosive. They're really explosive. I've got a lot of respect for David Fales from a quarterback standpoint. He's he's got a tight release, he has great footwork, he has great confidence, he throws balls in tight windows when guys are covered and when they're not. (Jabari) Carr and (Chandler) Jones and (Noel) Grigsby, if he's healthy, those three are the trifecta. Those three had good games against us last year, I'm sure they're playing with a lot of confidence. To look at them on the defensive side from Travis (Raciti) to Keith (Smith) to Bené (Benwikere), those three guys who we played against last year right up the middle of that defense, it's strong and they're good players."
"I've got a lot of respect for that staff for what they do and how they prepare. It will be a tough game to win on the road. If we're going to compete for the Mountain West Championship in November or as the year goes on, you have to win games on the road in the league. I said that at Air Force and this will be an awesome test for us, especially coming off last week. It's one I'm looking forward to preparing for and watching on Friday night."
On bouncing back and refocusing on the conference:
"That's the talk, that's the goal and what we're preaching. We talked about it early this morning and we talked about it late last night. I don't have any reason to believe that they won't because that's who we are, that's who this program is. That's who we've been in the time I've been here is a program that prepares well. They're tough-minded mentally and they go above and beyond. They're film room junkies. The short week won't bother our players one bit because of how they prepare."
On moving past a loss:
"It's no different than coming off the Air Force and Weber State games when I point blank said, 'We didn't do this right and we didn't do this very good.' I give their defense a lot of credit. They played well and it's one of the better defenses we'll see all year. I said that before the game and I'm saying it after the game. I can tell you that the day after the Air Force game we weren't throwing a party and just hootin' and hollerin,' patting those kids on the back. I think it's a positive reinforcement when there's corrections made. They know the standard that we're going to set. If it's not met it will be professionally and directly communicated. This is the standard that is set. It doesn't matter if it comes off a win or a loss. When I came off the Air Force game and said 'Chuckie Keeton needs to do these four things better,' I had everybody looking at me like I'm kidding. Now I come off the USC game and say 'Chuckie Keeton needs to do these four things better' to him, everyone says 'Oh yeah, because y'all lost.' No, it's the same. It's my approach to teaching and preparing these kids every single week. If we do that in every meeting room, I think we'll be consistent as the year goes on. That's our goal internally. Our approach doesn't change after a loss. There was still a lot of praising going on last night and this morning. We praised them when it was good. We did a lot of good coverage stuff in the kicking game. You kick to a Biletnikoff Award winner, a kid who's going to be a Top 5 pick and our kickoff and punt coverage did what they did? That is a great job by those kids. It gets praised. We did some good stuff. We played really well on defense for three quarters and played great on our side of the field almost the whole second half. We did a lot of praising, then we do corrections, win or lose."
On technique shortcomings:
"Everybody on offense had technique shortcomings. Chuckie (Keeton) had technique shortcomings after the Air Force and Weber State games too, but nobody wanted to listen to me. When you have technique shortcomings against a tremendously talented defense, you get exposed faster and quicker on offense. Offense is such a team part of the game, it's so much cohesion especially with the O-Line and keeping the quarterback in sync that if something comes off, it can look really bad. We've got to call games better, we've got to execute better. Even at all that, we rushed for more yards against them than anybody has all year. We did not turn the ball over on the road in the Coliseum one time and we had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Give that all to me again and I'll take it again this week and we'll find a way to win in the fourth quarter. There's some stuff to clean up, but I'm happy with a lot of it. I'm not pleased with the outcome, but I'm happy with a lot of the stuff that they did and the way they performed. We've got to play a little bit better in some areas."
On the punting game and that being a reason for calling the fake punt:
"We struggled a little bit punting. The wind was swirling and we weren't hitting it real well. We've got to hit it a little better. A 12-yard punt gives them a field goal and it's a field goal ball game. That was part of the reason I declined the running into the kicker because it was finally on their side of the 50, it was a little bit longer field for them. So yeah, that played a part. When you're down with nine minutes left in the game and we were bogging down on offense, I thought we needed a little bit of juice and a little bit of spark. I thought schematically it was there and ultimately it wasn't for whatever reasons."
On the San Jose State secondary and Bené Benwikere:
"He's been good. I know he leads their team in pass breakups with six or seven in the three games. He's got a pick. He's an experienced player and I think he's a very confident player. I'm sure he's one of the leaders in the back end of that secondary. Keith Smith had a good game against us last year. He's a veteran and has played quite a bit. He's one of the better linebackers in the Mountain West. I like Keith, I met him this summer in Vegas. He's a very good player and I've got a lot of respect for him, he plays hard."
On the similarities between San Jose State's and USC's defenses:
"It's a different scheme than last year. It's not the same defense. It's totally different schematically than what they had last year. You would think some of it would get translated over and we're ultimately prepared and ready for that because of the affiliation."
On setting benchmarks based on last year's game and similarities in programs:
"One more point than them, that's what we set this morning. Seven to six, 49 to 48, it doesn't matter. One more point than them. Last year doesn't matter. It's a brand new staff at San Jose State, and it's a brand new staff at Utah State. It's two new defensive coordinators, two new offensive coordinators. We've got a lot of the same players back, but it's different. Same venue, but it about stops right there to be honest with you. We've got to go win on the road. It's a big game for us and it's a big game for them. It's the league opener for them and it's our second league game. Early on in the season everybody is gunning for everybody. We're going to give it our best shot and they're going to give it their best shot."
"You've both got returning quarterbacks and both coming from the WAC. Both were in bowl games, both won 11 games, both won bowl games, both were ranked, both had a coaching staff change, both wear a shade of blue, both have State in their name, I could go on."
On the 13 sacks last year and the effect it had on David Fales and the San Jose State offense:
"Well, 13 sacks and the way we played on offense affected the game just because it was a part of the game. From a quarterback standpoint, I think it happened to Chuckie (Keeton) a little bit this week (vs. USC). You get out of rhythm. Different pressures and movement up front puts you off your rhythm, or your launch-point, or all of the above. Anything that makes a quarterback speed up his mind and his decision-making is affected from a defensive standpoint. Whether we did that last year or not, I don't know. I know it affects quarterbacks all the time."
On the national exposure two weeks in a row:
"The goal is just to be 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference. As far as exposure and the platform, it's the same. On national television we have to play well for it to mean something with recruiting and branding and imaging and all those things we want to do for our football program and university. You have to play well. We played well Saturday against USC, we didn't hurt our cause and there's a lot of people around the country that I think gained respect for Utah State. Was it the outcome we all wanted? Nope. Not one bit. There's not one moral victory in it. None of our players think so, none of our coaches think so. You take successes in parts of that game out in confidence as a player and as a coach and know that you have a good program. We're talking about competing against USC in the Coliseum. We got it to the fourth quarter. It's exactly what we wanted and I'd take it again and make a play at the end."
On Chuckie Keeton and what he does well and why it's hard to defend him:
"The thing that makes Chuckie a good player first of all is that he plays within our scheme and within what he's coached to do. He's extremely smart and he's got a lot of moxie. He has a feel for when to leave the pocket, when not to leave the pocket. Any time you have a dual-threat quarterback, I think it can compromise defensive philosophies and cause pressure like crazy. If he gets out, see you. If you get a lot of man coverage and get your back turned to him, see you. If you play a tremendous amount of zone, then you have to stop the run game, he's a good enough passer to defeat zone coverage. That's what makes him a good quarterback."
Senior Cornerback Nevin Lawson
Recapping the USC game:
"As far as the defensive side, I felt like we really played well. We came with high energy, we competed every snap, and I felt like we really played a good game. This was probably the best communication we've had as a secondary out of all of our games, so we've got to keep that up. Once again, the front seven, linebackers and D-line, played an awesome game and we just competed."
On the team morale after this past weekend:
"It's definitely tough coming off a loss, especially like that. Me personally, I'd rather lose by 100 points than lose by three. It definitely was a tough loss and it hurts. At the end of the day, we've just got to put that behind us and use that as fuel going into this San Jose State game and we'll be ready."
On the secondary communicating better:
"As far as the secondary, playing against Air Force I felt like our secondary didn't have very good communication in the back-end as far as our assignments, but their offense is very complicated. Now that we're able to play a game against a regular offense we really played well as far as communicating our assignments and audibling to the right plays."
On playing against Marquis Lee and and USC's other wide receivers as well as San Jose State's wide receivers next week:
"Going against Marquis Lee was definitely a challenge, he's a great player. He has a lot of accolades and stuff, but I just felt like we we're prepared as a defense. We watched a lot of film on him and the things he likes to do. We knew that it wasn't going to be an easy test, but I felt like in the back-end we really played well against Lee and USC's receivers. Going against San Jose State, they don't have just two receivers, they've got four explosive guys that can make plays. For us as a secondary, especially the corner group, we should be excited to play in games like this because we know for a fact that the ball will be in the air for more than 70 percent of their snaps. I felt like the USC game helped us to get ready for teams that are going to pass the ball, but at the same time, we still have got to prepare the same way, stay focused for this game and take it like it's another game that we have to win."
On San Jose State QB David Fales' ball distribution:
"Like I said, they've got more than just one weapon. They've got four different receivers who are really good and they've got a good tight end. Fales will probably be the best quarterback we've faced. He's a great quarterback, he just knows how to put the ball in a position where his receivers can go get it, even if it's into tight coverage."
On the team's ability to bounce back from tough losses with a win the following week:
"We just know that we've got to move on. You lose some and you win some, but at the end of the day, you've just got to keep fighting. Our ultimate goal is to be champions and that's still something we can achieve. Going into San Jose State, that's a league game so we definitely have to play like we're playing for a championship. We've got to bounce back from that (USC) game. Regardless of what happened, we've got to stay tight as a team and continue to go after our goals."
On having positive experiences at San Jose State in the past:
"It's definitely fun going back to San Jose. I know they're a great team; we definitely can't go in there and think we're going to roll over them. We know they are going to come out and compete against us. It's just something I look forward to, and to go out and compete against these guys is a great honor because I know for a fact that they are great competitors. It's going to be a good game."
On how much the coverage played a factor in getting 13 sacks against San Jose State last year:
"I'd say 50/50, because we covered enough to where the defense was able to get sacks and sometimes the front-seven made a great play before the quarterback could throw the ball."
On comparing this game to the Air Force game, where the team was coming off a close loss heading into an important conference game:
"I look at it like it's kind of like that. In my opinion, it's just another loss that we've got and a bad taste that we don't like. I know for a fact that everybody in that locker room wants to win and that's all that this is about is winning. For us to obtain our goals we've got to bounce back from it."
On seeing this game as a possible conference championship preview:
"I just see it as a conference game that we have to win."
On if he get's excited to play a pass-first style offense:
"Definitely. As a corner you've got to love these games. Playing Utah, they threw the ball, but it was more of a 50/50 balance between running and throwing the ball. Against Air Force, it was more option and Weber State, they barely got to pass the ball. Like I said, we knew USC was going to pass the ball, especially having a guy like Marquis Lee, and going into San Jose, I know for a fact 70 percent of the time that ball will be in the air. As a corner, that's what we get paid to do is cover and that's what we want to do, so I look forward to games like this."
Senior Offensive Guard Jamie Markosian
Recapping the USC game:
"Looking back at the USC game, it was a tough loss for Utah State, definitely one that we wanted to get being so close in these BCS matchups. Knocking on the door in all these games, and we want to break that door down, but you win some you lose some. It definitely is a sour taste in our mouth that leaves us hungry to come back for more and get into this conference schedule. Offensively, we could have done a couple of things that would have really helped our chances. We had really bad field position all day and, bottom line, we couldn't get the ball out. That hurts the defense and the special teams so we've really got to step that up. I'm really proud of the way these guys played with me and the way the defense played, because they poured their hearts out, they had a great game. Offensively, we've got to pick up the slack more, it was definitely unacceptable by my standards, so I'm a little disappointed in that. At the same time, we played against a great front, those guys are talented players and good coaches and I give all the credit to those guys."
On his thoughts on San Jose State:
"I'm really excited, conference play is the most important thing. Our goals are still out in front of us to win a championship and to compete for our spot in November. That's what's most important for me is to be able to bounce back from a loss like this and strive for that conference victory and perform the way we are supposed to perform."
On what allows the team to be able to bounce back from tough losses:
"It's that bad taste in our mouth, it's not pleasant. All those losses are in the back of our heads at all times fueling us. We're all competitors and to have to stomach that is one thing, but to have to live with it week after week, you just can't do it. You have to go out to win and to compete for a victory."
On San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith:
"We've seen him the past four years. He's a great player, definitely, and I'm excited to play against him. This will be my second time starting against him and third time playing against him. It's a great matchup, he's a great player, great athlete and he flies to the ball. I'm just excited to go after a quality player like that week after week, which is a sign of a good team and program."
On things that need to be improved on with the offensive line:
"It's all about technique. Playing against top quality opponents like that exposes your flaws in technique and we have to be right on, especially the O-line. It's imperative that we're spot on with our technique and assignments. Those little miscues in our techniques can really be exposed and hurt. It's not all that much, but just that little bit is going to help."
On USC's ability to get off blocks and make tackles:
"Credit goes to those guys, they're great athletes and great players, but our technique flaws really helped them do that. We want to be the ones to keep them blocked, we don't want them coming off blocks and making things difficult for our backfield and for Chuckie (Keeton). A lot of it was technique and some of it was just that they are really good players. I take responsibility for that because it's our fault at the end of the day that they were coming off our blocks. Technique improvements and adjustments are going to help us a lot."
On San Jose's defense comparing to USC's defense schematically:
"I think their coordinator now is different from last year. I think last year he was with USC so there is definitely going to be those similarities. There are some of those same guys back like Travis Raciti, Anthony Larceval and Keith Smith. I'm looking forward to running the ball, getting back downhill like we need to be. San Jose State is a great opponent, no doubt. Every time they come to play us or we go to San Jose it's a dogfight, so I'm excited to play this game, I love playing against San Jose State."
On the success of the run game in last year's game against SJSU:
"We had a really good running attack last year in that game. We were able to open the holes for Kerwynn (Williams) and he was able to scoot like he does. I hope the same game plan will be instilled and I'm pretty confident it will be."
On if the recent success over San Jose State gives the team a mental edge:
"Not really, we've beaten them for three years now and that weighs heavily on a team like San Jose. They're going to be hungry, we're going to have the target on our backs, so if anything, we're going to have to be sharper and more prepared for them. They're going to bring everything they've got just like we will. From a mental standpoint, preparation is the same week in and week out. You have to be able to watch film and study and know what's going to happen. I don't think anything will be different, we'll have to deal with their best shot but they're going to have to deal with ours."
On if USC's front-group was the quickest they have played against:
"Yeah, so far in this season, absolutely. They're explosive guys and talented players, that's the reason that they're at USC I guess. They're a very good front."
On San Jose State's Travis Raciti:
"He's a high-motor guy and he plays really hard all the time. He's a good player, you can't take that away from him, but we've got good players up front too. I'm excited to go up against these guys and show people that we're a quality O-line."
On if there was a moral victory from the USC game:
"As a player, it's hard but there's no doubt we've shown the last few years that we can play with those upper-division teams. At the end of the day, though, the goal is to win and unfortunately that didn't happen for us last Saturday."
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