USU football head coach Matt Wells held a conference call Tuesday to recap the UNLV game and talk about the upcoming bye week.
Nov. 12, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Matt Wells held a conference call Tuesday to recap the UNLV game and talk about the upcoming bye week. A complete transcript of Wells remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Matt Wells
Recapping the UNLV game:
"UNLV was a test for us as a team in a close game that came down to the wire. It was a consumate team victory. We made plays on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game to secure that win. It was not our best execution, but it was with great effort as I go back and review the film. To see the offense go on a long drive at the end of the fourth quarter to get the lead, to see our defense with four stops inside the 16-yardline at the end of the game, that shows the amount of effort that those guys played with to win on the road. The punt return by Bruce Natson at the end of the first quarter, although it doesn't look huge on paper, to set up the score was a big play. Nevin Lawson snuffing out a fake field goal play was a huge momentum play to save points. There were plays and situations like that where we grow as a team. Our confidence grows, so I think we'll go back and reference that as this year goes on. I'm sure there's going to be another close game or two as we go on. It was huge for us confidence-wise to win on the road in our first year in the Mountain West. To be 4-0 on the road in league is a tremendous accomplishment for our kids, and something we'll go back and draw strength from as we go on in this program and the years in the Mountain West Conference."
Do you have any concerns with how the team played at UNLV:
On continuing to win on the road:
"I just think we had a few guys that were out of position and didn't execute real well, and then what an effort by Jake Thompson to save a touchdown on a kickoff return. That effort saved four points. That's a prime example, and I showed it to our guys Monday morning, of that one guy's individual effort on the first kickoff of the game for us shows that you never know when your play is going to make a difference in a ball game. It can come at any time and that was a prime example. It saved four points and was huge as the game wore on."
"I just think the mindset is one of oneness and togetherness. It's going to be us against this city, us against this team that we're playing. We create our own energy and we create our own excitement. We rally around each other really well. We've played well. I don't know if there's any secret formula or recipe for success, I've just seen it happen. We've played really well."
On the effort of the team at UNLV:
"I don't think we executed real well. I never once questioned our effort Saturday night. Even after going back and watching the tape twice on both sides of the ball, I think our guys played with tremendous effort, excitement and energy. We didn't play smart at times and we didn't execute real well at times. That has nothing to do with effort."
On third-down performance versus UNLV:
"We've played well on both sides of the ball on third down. If we were a little bit better offensively on first or second down in this game, we wouldn't have had as many third-and-longs, obviously. I think our guys know that there's a sense of urgency with third down. Maybe we focus a little bit sharper on those down-and-distances, I don't know."
"I think third down has been an area where Darell (Garretson) has performed really well. We have as a team and Darell has as an individual. I think that's a mark of a great quarterback, production on third down. He's been very productive. It's not only his passing, but his elusiveness and his ability to scramble and know exactly what the down and distance is and get that first down to extend drives."
On the play of the offensive line against UNLV:
"I think that's all relative. We didn't score as many points as we'd like. You take a couple of undisciplined plays that we made at the end of the second quarter, a bad coaching mistake on my part that I've already admitted to, and you've got more points on the board. I wish we'd have rushed for more yards, I wish we'd have thrown for more yards and scored more points, but I don't pin that on the offensive line. No way will I do that."
On the focus of the bye week:
"It's a little bit of a different focus than the last bye week. It's a little bit of recruiting, but we are mostly here for the week. It's a lot of self-scouting and preparing for Colorado State. We met yesterday with the players and then gave them the rest of the day off and gave them today off. Tomorrow we're just going to meet and condition, then we'll practice Thursday and early Friday morning before we cut them loose for the weekend."
On attending D.J. Tialavea's father's funeral as a team:
"We had 40-something players and about 20 staff members, we took two full busloads. There were a lot of us down there. It was long, but most Polynesian funerals are. I was very proud of D.J. He had a lot of composure. It was a very nice service. It was very reflective of Don's life and commitment to service and his church. D.J., his mom and his sisters were awesome. We went down to support him."
On the helmet sticker honoring Donald Tialavea:
"I walked in and told Waqa (Damuni) that I was going to put a sticker on the back of the helmets to honor D.J.'s dad for the rest of the year. I told him to go design it. Waqa had a big hand in it. I just wanted to do it. It was a surprise to the players. I called D.J. and his mom (Tammy) and asked permission. They said that would be great and they'd be honored. I thought it turned out really well. We're going to put them on the white helmets for next week and we'll wear them the rest of the year."
On Bruce (JoJo) Natson playing the Wildcat position:
"It's something that we've had in all year a little bit, I think we just expanded on it a little this week. The situation presented itself in the game and it was successful. We gained confidence in it as a staff. Our players gained confidence, JoJo gained confidence. That's normal with success. It was something that gave us some spark. It was a weapon for us in the game and it made a real difference."
On the team's run defense moving forward against Colorado State:
"We're going to have to play really good against the run. That's our number one goal every single week, to stop and eliminate the run. (UNLV's) Tim (Cornett) is a really good running back and Kapri Bibbs (Colorado State) is a really good running back. He's been very productive here the last several weeks. That will be a big focus of ours heading into the Colorado State game."
On Nevin Lawson and Jake Doughty getting recognition this week:
"Nevin has played really consistently and at a really high level since the USC game. He had opportunities to make plays Saturday and he made them. He single-handedly probably saved arguably 14 points with snuffing out the field goal fake and the pick on the goal line on third down. Those were two huge plays that saved points. He's played really solid in special teams. He's unselfish. He plays every down at corner. I couldn't be happier with how he's playing right now."
"Jake Doughty to me is a model of consistency. His performance Saturday night just equals that. He's played well here down the stretch for us. He's a leader. It's nice to see him get recognized for his efforts."
On Travis Reynolds' play:
"I don't know that he's really stepped it up, he's just performed well when giving the opportunity. He's played well all year. He's played well in a leadership role and in a full-time receiver role all year. Three out of the last four weeks he's gotten 100 yards. We've needed him to step it up. We asked everyone to play four percent better on offense since Chuckie Keeton got hurt. He's one that has done that and when given the opportunity he's played really well. I'm really proud of Travis and happy with where he is at. We'd like to get him to 1,000 yards this year."