Utah State football head coach Matt Wells, along with junior linebacker Zach Vigil, sophomore wide receiver Bruce Natson, held a news conference Monday to recap the Wyoming game and preview its upcoming Mountain West Championship game at Fresno State.
Dec. 2, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Matt Wells, along with junior linebacker Zach Vigil, sophomore wide receiver Bruce Natson, held a news conference Monday to recap the Wyoming game and preview its upcoming Mountain West Championship game at Fresno State. A complete transcript of Wells, Vigil and Natson's remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Matt Wells
Recapping the Wyoming game:
"Another milestone for this program is kind of the way I look at it. We had the opportunity to win a Mountain Division Championship and we did it. We won the first rifle. Those are neat accomplishments. Anytime you get to take a picture out on midfield with the scoreboard in the background, and those kind of things, I think it's just another step in this program's climb. We're not there yet, we're continuing to ascend and give ourselves the chance to continue to compete. We're going to get to do that this week in the championship game. I'm really proud of our players and everything they've done."
"We've got one more week to finish the drill. That will be the theme again this week. We're going to find a way to try and go 1-0 against Fresno State and finish the drill. I think they've done a nice job of putting the blinders on. All they care about is winning that week. It's a mindset. It's a little cliche, but it's a mindset with everybody in the building. I'd kind of forgotten we just played Wyoming, because for the last 48 hours all we've been seeing is red and white. The Bulldogs get your attention really quick."
Previewing Fresno State:
On Derek Carr and the Fresno State offense:
"Going right into that game, this is something that will be a major challenge for our program Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium. It's a tough place to play. It will be a great atmosphere, we know that and we recognize that. Coach (Tim) DeRuyter and his staff have done a fantastic job in the last two years. I've got a lot of respect for Tim, and we go way back. They're well-coached and they will be ready to play. We'll get their very best shot and they'll get our very best shot. It should be a really good game. They're an extremely talented team. They have skill that just oozes out of that program. They've got three wideouts and a punt returner and a quarterback that I've got a lot of respect for. Our defense has a major challenge on our hands. That will be a huge part of the game - the number one offense in the Mountain West against the number one defense in the Mountain West."
"The first thing is that he's got an NFL arm. He's got a strong arm. He's very, very accurate and he has one of the quickest releases I've ever seen. I've seen enough of them to know how good they are. Dave Schramm has done a great job with the offense. They're really explosive and very creative. They're very outside-the-box thinkers and I have a lot of respect for what they're doing right now."
On Coach Wells' relationship with Coach DeRuyter:
"I've got a lot of respect for Timmy. I've known him since 1999. We were at Navy for three years together. We had some good times and some bad times as a team, but he and I have been friends ever since then. We've spent a lot of time together. Tim and Kara are good friends of ours. Timmy and I have exchanged a lot of calls and texts over the last year, just in him helping me as a first-year head coach and sharing with me. We always teased each other that for the next two years we were okay, we could share secrets because we weren't going to play each other. I guess we both never thought it would really happen just because of the odds. It's a good friendship, but it's not about Matt and it's not about Tim. It's about the players on both sides of the ball. As long as we put them into a position to make plays and we do our job, the players win games. It's not about he and I Saturday night, I promise you that."
On the experience of playing at Bulldog Stadium:
"Oh, I know. I played there as a player here. I coached there at Tulsa, I've coached there here at Utah State. It's a tough place to play. It'll be loud. They play well at home and it's a good crowd. It will be a big challenge."
On Nick Vigil being the MW Defensive Player of the Week:
"That's a great accolade and accomplishment for him and an honor reflective to me of the whole defense and how they played. Nick had opportunities, he stepped up, and he made plays. He's a great young talent here with a great future. He's really athletic, but he's the same mold as the rest of those guys. He's blue-collar, he's got an edge to him, and he's got a toughness to him. He's really smart and he can play multiple positions. We'll be talking about Nick a lot these next three years."
On Fresno State losing and proving they're beatable:
"I don't look at it a positive or a negative. I look at it as the situation it is. We're playing a 10-1 football team who is ranked in the Top 25 in the country. I really hadn't thought about playing Fresno State until Saturday. It is what it is. None of is inside this building look at it as a positive or a negative that they've got one loss. It is what it is."
On Fresno State's Davante Adams:
"The guy's got great hands and deceptive speed. He runs really good routes, he gets up on top of DBs, and he sticks his toe in the ground. The guy is a big-time player."
On Fresno State's Josh Harper and Isaiah Burse:
"There's some different skill sets. They're shorter, quicker, a little more inside route-runner guys. They complement each other really well."
On using Fresno State's defensive number to motivate his team:
"We don't look at the numbers. I don't have to motivate them. We're going into the Mountain West Championship game. Not a lot of people outside this complex anytime during the year thought we'd be playing in this game. Nobody in October when we were 3-4 thought we'd be in the Mountain West Championship game. Nothing is going to motivate my guys to play well besides their performance and expectations. I don't need to look at numbers or stats to motivate our guys, they're extremely motivated."
On the big picture and what changed after the Boise State loss:
"I don't know what changed except for maybe we narrowed the focus a little bit more. There was a lot more on us and what we had to do. Not that you didn't worry about or scheme and opponent, but the focus turned right to us. We knew we had to rally around some brand new players, namely on offense, and play better around them. The guys stepping in had to play well. They didn't have to win it by themselves. Darell Garretson didn't have to win it by himself. He had to play efficiently and within the system and not turn the ball over. He's done that for five-straight weeks. If he does it again Saturday, we have a chance to win. All you want to do is give yourself a chance to win. We've played really well on special teams and exceptionally on defense."
On Fresno State's defense pressuring the quarterback:
"Tim DeRuyter will not sit and watch. He will force the issue on defense and be calculated aggressive. I've gone against his defenses and have a lot of respect for him. They do a nice job. In some ways, with the odd front and the zone pressures, it's similar to our defense. We see it quite a bit. I don't know if that gives us an advantage over some teams. It's a matter of identifying it right and a matter of executing. It comes down to executing blocks, picking up protections, blocking run-blitzes and all those kind of things. They're aggressive. That's why you see the TFL's and sacks. We're going to have to run the football. We know that, it's not a secret. We're going to have to stop the run and run the football. That's been the recipe for success for the last five weeks and that's not changing."
On Utah State's defensive getting smarter as the season has gone on:
"They were pretty smart when they started the year. I think what Zach (Vigil) probably means is the more and more you play and the more you play with the same guy next to you, the more you're on the same page from a communication and experience standpoint. I think it's just those veterans are more comfortable with those guys around them. Nick (Vigil) has played an extended amount of time for the first time. Kyler (Fackrell) has moved to a new position. They didn't just become that much smarter. They're smart, smart kids and that's why they've been successful on defense."
On the celebration after Saturday's win:
"The kids were excited. It was a good locker room celebration. It was good for our staff. It lasted until bedtime Saturday night and then here we go again on Sunday. I don't ever want to minimize winning from a coaching or player standpoint. Football is different. It's not baseball. You don't play 60 games a year. Everyday is game day in college baseball. Basketball is playing upwards of 30 games. They play multiple games each week. Football you don't do that. We play once a week. You grind for eight months to play 12 guaranteed games. Game day is everything in football, so when you win you need to celebrate it. Enjoy the ride. If you don't, it's not worth it."
On being at this game at this point in his career:
"Honestly I haven't thought two seconds about it. Yeah, maybe if I stopped and took a deep breath, but right now I'm worried about itineraries and what color uniform we're wearing and trying to score a few points. I haven't thought about it. Our goal was to be in this game, we made no bones about it. Why do you compete if this isn't your goal? We break every huddle saying 'Mountain West champs.' You talk about it in January, you talk about it in early June before summer prep, and you talk about it in training camp. We've been talking about it and there have been a lot of people laughing at us. Here we are."
On the excitement of a championship game rather than just winning the title during the season:
"There's a lot of buzz around here right now. It's the inaugural Mountain West Championship game. We earned the right to play another week and on national television. These are things that are big for the program. Our kids are excited about it."
On playing on CBS:
"You can't put a price tag on it. From recruiting to marketing to branding, all those kind of things, you can't put a price tag on it. For admissions and people looking at coming to school here, for the football program. I've said it all along that you have to go and play well. The people that tune in will see a really good game and a program that's fun to watch."
Junior Linebacker Zach Vigil
Recapping the Wyoming game:
"Obviously, beating Wyoming was a huge team victory for us on Saturday. From a defensive standpoint, we knew that their quarterback is a good player, their running back is a powerful back and their O-line does a good job protecting for the most part. We schemed up and were able to execute."
On what he sees out of Fresno State:
"I just started watching film on them last night and a little bit this morning. Derek Carr is a very talented player, very smart. His O-line does a good job of keeping him clean and free. They don't run the ball very often but when they do it seems to be pretty successful for them."
On Fresno State's receiving corps:
"They are very talented and I think (Derek) Carr does a really good job of getting the ball to them. He has a quick release, gets the ball out of his hands, doesn't take too many hits, gets it in their hands and he lets his athletes work. His receivers are really good after the catch also. They're not going to go down on the first hit so we're going to have to rally to the football as a defense to stop them."
On the matchup of the top ranked offense in the MW vs. the top ranked defense:
"I think it's going to be really exciting. I think we're going to come to play and I think they're going to come to play. I don't think they're going to score 70 on us, but I don't think we're going to shut them out either. It's going to be a good battle and I'm looking forward to it because it's going to be a test for both sides."
On what he has to say to people who are underestimating Utah State:
"Tune in on Saturday when we play Fresno State, it'll be exciting. As far as the national brand and all that stuff, I'm just here to play football and if we get recognized as that, that's awesome. I think what we've done in the past few years has spoken for itself and people are finally tuned in. They know every time you schedule the Aggies they're going to come to play."
On if he has told his brother Nick that they need another big game out of him:
"Yeah, I told him that on Saturday, actually. In fact, I think I might stop telling him that because he keeps out performing me. He's done a good job for us and I'm happy for him. Nick's pass rush has improved a lot and he had a lot of tackles also. Nick came out there and showed up and our defense did a tremendous job, except for one play."
On in-game adjustments by the defense:
"A lot of it is coaching. A lot of offenses script their first 10 plays and the defense kind of feels out what they're going to do, then coaches adjust accordingly. Coaches make most of the adjustments and we just play what's called. For the most part the offense is trying to feel out the defense and the defense is trying to feel out the offense and see what their game plan is for that point in the game. The game evolves as time goes on. We always say that when five minutes is left in the third quarter is when a game can change from both and offensive and defensive schematic standpoint. The first part of the game we sometimes get driven on a little bit, but we try to bend and not break. It's just a feeling out process early in the game."
On players making their own adjustments in game:
"We do as players, but mainly it comes from the coaches. They'll say `we're seeing this' or we're seeing that' and `you should do this `or you should do that'"
On if there is a common thread to identifying the playmakers for a team and eliminating them:
"Not so much a common thread, but with Kapri Bibbs of Colorado State, we knew he was a talented player and that we we're going to have to stop the run with him. With Wyoming, we thought their quarterback was their best player and we had to stop him from getting out of the pocket, that's when he was most dangerous to us. With Fresno State, their quarterback, running back and receivers, their whole skill group, are their best players. From a defensive standpoint, we're going to have to be very disciplined and execute at a high level if we're going to slow them down and stop them. They have a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball and their quarterback is the main guy, so we're going to have to get after him a little bit and hopefully put a timer in his head."
On if there is any particular reason why the defense is playing much better than earlier in the season:
"I think that players have gotten better and we've gotten smarter and are playing at a higher level right now. That's how you want to be playing going into the tail end of the season; you want to be peaking right about now. Hopefully we haven't peaked yet and are still climbing because we have two games left now. The coaches have done a tremendous job of putting players in a position to make plays. Coaching is huge and our coaches have done a phenomenal job doing that for us."
On if he thought the team would be in this position when they were 3-4:
"I want to say yes but there are those doubts in the back of your mind. At the same time, we knew that we are a resilient group of players and we weren't just going to lie down and say `we're done, we give up.' I knew we had a group of guys that weren't going to lie down and we had to have things fall right for us and they have so far. We're happy to be in the position we are, but we're not done yet and we have one more game left to prove that we are a very good football team."
On if anything changed for the team after the loss to Boise State:
"We had a defensive meeting after that game. We had lost Chuckie (Keeton) at that point and Darell (Garretson) has done a great job of stepping up for this football team, but we knew that we had to play at a higher level if we were going to win football games. We feel that as a defense we lead this team. We're a defensive-led football team and we take pride in that. We had a defensive meeting with leaders standing up and speaking up about it and since then we've played better football. I think that was a big turning point in this season for us."
On how he compares this defense to last year's:
"I think we've gotten our swagger back. We didn't have the swagger at the beginning of the season for whatever reason, that `it' factor or whatever, and I think we've gotten that back now. From where we were last year, I don't want to say we are better or worse than that defense, I think we're smarter than that defense because players have been in the system longer. I don't know how we are statistically compared to that defense, but we're a very good defense and we need to continue to get better and be in the film room. This is probably the biggest game of most of our lives and the biggest game in my life."
On what Defensive Coordinator Tood Orlando has added to the defense:
"He's very vocal and that's good for us as leaders. You can lead by example, but sometimes you've just got to step up and say something and I think that's rubbed off on the players. He's done a tremendous job of putting us in position to make plays, him and his staff. I'm very thankful to have him here."
On the role Head Coach Matt Wells has played in leading the defense through the winning streak:
"Coach Wells is the overall leader of this team and good or bad he's going to get a lot of credit or a lot of blame for however things may end up. He's done a great job of refocusing us every week on needing to be 1-0 at the end of the week. We have a big picture and a small focus and he's done a tremendous job of refocusing the team every week after a win."
Sophomore Wide Receiver Bruce Natson
Recapping the Wyoming game:
"I feel like we started off slow and towards the second quarter we picked it up, finally got a groove on offense and finished it off strong."
On his two big punt returns against Wyoming:
"The first one, all week we've been planning to get a good feel on the punter since he's a rugby style punter, so all week I've been practicing how to catch the ball of a bounce and make a play. The punt return unit did a great job of blocking for me and I tried to make a play."
On the upcoming game against Fresno State:
"It's a big game, Mountain West Championship on the line, so you've got to leave it all on the line. As far as the offense, we have to score points this week and we know that. I know our defense is going to step up and do a good job, I just feel like the offense needs to step it up a notch this week."
On having more variations to the Wildcat package this week:
"I don't know, I'll find out today. We had to switch it up a bit. A couple of teams were keying on it so we switched it up. We had some where I hand the ball off, and some where I throw the ball. I was surprised that I actually got a chance to throw it but we're trying to switch it up and give them a couple different looks. Hopefully we do have a little Wildcat this week."
On having a lot to learn due to the Wildcat package:
"Coach (Jovon) Bouknight gives me a prep test before every game and I usually just get the receiving test, but now I have to get a running back, quarterback and the receiver test. I've had a lot on my plate these last couple of weeks, but I'm enjoying it."
On if his running is instinctual:
"It's all instinct, I just try not to get tackled. However I can score a touchdown, that's what I feel like I've got to do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't look too good, but at the end of the day, as long as I make plays that's all it's about."
On what Coach Wells has said during the winning streak:
"He's been telling us that there's a big picture and a little picture and that we need to take it one week at a time, being 1-0 by the end of the week and being focused on our opponent each week. That's what we did and we went out and executed to win game."