LOGAN, Utah - Utah State head football coach Matt Wells, along with junior center Quin Ficklin and senior cornerback Jalen Davis, held a press conference Monday to preview the Aggies' upcoming bowl game against New Mexico State in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Friday, Dec. 29, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. A complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
Head Coach Matt Wells
"Let's start with the last few weeks. It has been a big focus for us on recruiting with the early signing period in 48 hours. So, we have been in more homes and have had more guys on official visits than we've ever had. So far we've gotten, which is like four laps in a mile relay, very good results. We have to finish the last lap in the next 48 hours. We've had a few bowl practices on the weekends. Last week, we went three times, so we've gotten a total of seven in. Those have been very short, fast, up-tempo, high-intensity and quick practices that have two focuses. Number one, the continued development and keeping our guys sharp, so we did a lot of good-on-good. We also focused a lot on our youth, our young guys. We gave them a lot of reps. Today begins our bowl prep for New Mexico State. We have three straight days. We'll cut these kids loose a little bit for a Christmas break. Then, we'll reconvene on Christmas Day in Tucson, where we kind of go through round two of the bowl prep in preparation for New Mexico State, which is a very good team.
"The more I've watched them over the last three weeks, Doug Martin has done a very nice job getting them into a bowl game. I know it's been a long time since the Aggies and the Aggies played in the Sun Bowl, I get that, but when you watch a team throughout the year, and I've talked to multiple head coaches that have played against them, there is a common theme. Number one is how hard they play and that they play with a lot of emotion. Number two is how skilled and talented they are at the offensive skill positions. Tyler Rodgers has had a really good year. He can really throw the ball. He has a lot of guts. You see him moving around in the pocket, making throws off his back foot, the wrong foot. The wideout, Jaleel Scott, is really tall and a 1,000-yard receiver. That's hard to do these days. They have a really good tailback that's just short of 900 yards in an offense that does not run the ball very well. So, I think you see a very productive tailback. You combine the catches with the two running backs, that's a lot of catches. So, one thing that does stand out is they throw the ball to the running back very effectively. They've been very opportunistic on defense. Dalton Herrington, the inside linebacker, has kind of moved around there because of an injury. He leads the team in tackles, and he's very active. Cedric Wilcots II comes off the edge and has 8.5 sacks. I know they have the newcomer of the year in the conference in the back end. They had a second-team guy, so they have some talented DBs. Our guys know that. We have seen them on tape and watched them really briefly because we've had a break for finals. Our guys need to do a good job of being football junkies. We're going to invest a lot in the next three days on New Mexico State. It's something that we're excited for. There's been more juice and excitement, maybe because we weren't in a game last year, around the first seven bowl practices than I can remember the last few years. That's a good sign. We have a lot of work to do before we're ready to leave for Christmas break, then there's going to be a lot of work to do in Tucson. But it's something that we're excited about."
On if he thought Quin Ficklin would turn out to be this good of a player when the Aggies got him:
"No, I didn't. The young man played, obviously, very sparingly, and he played a little more at fullback, and we're going to move him to center. I don't think anyone in their right mind, including maybe even him, knew how well he would play, how quickly he would play and how quickly he would develop into a tremendous leader. It was very evident about halfway through March that we had found our starting center."
On if he feels the offensive line has made progressive steps throughout the season:
"I think you can also draw a close parallel to their improvement over the last half of the season, and it kind of coincides a little bit with Jordan (Love). When Jordan came in and started playing well, our offense started playing better. Those guys played well. We all have investment in this, all starting with me, the coaching staff, the offensive players, played very average most of the month of October, which resulted in average offensive games in October, when we really needed them the most. I'm very proud of the offensive line development. I think a lot of the credit needs to go to Steve Farmer. You have five brand new starters. You have one that came as a walk-on, talking about Quin Ficklin, who earned a scholarship. You have one that came from junior college and played D-lineman to move over. You've got one that was coming off a redshirt year, and he was the only one here last year in Sean Taylor. Moroni (Iniguez) didn't get here until June from junior college, and Rob Castaneda was a new addition in January. To put all five of them together and to mix in a senior, Preston Brooksby, mix in a redshirt freshman, Demytrick Ali'ifua and then Ty Shaw, those have really been the eight guys. The three guys I just mentioned at the end have rotated a good amount into that line. To keep the continuity is a credit to those young men, as well as coach Farmer."
On if it's fair to say this is a matchup of two explosive offenses:
"I think they both have the potential to be. There have been times during the year where both offenses are probably not playing as well as you want and resulting in close games or losses. It's fairly safe to say that for both sides. You have talented wideouts, talented quarterbacks and talented running backs, so there could be a lot of points on the scoreboard."
On how the quarterback race played out during the season:
"I think Kent (Myers) was absolutely ahead of Jordan (Love) at the beginning of the year. To kind of go back through it, Jordan got his extensive playing time in the Wake Forest game and played well enough to continue to merit playing a series in the next few weeks. He played well enough in the Wyoming game that I thought he merited the start against UNLV. I tell you what, those young men, I love them both. They have both handled it like pros. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kent Myers, knowing because I personally have gone through a situation similar. Kent is a way better player than I was, that's not even a question. I'm not trying to be funny. I mean that sincerely. He's a very good player. He handled it like a pro, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He's been a great teammate to Jordan in a situation that is tough."
On if these extra practices will help Jordan in the future:
"I would hope so. That's a great question. You look at it like this. We've had seven, what I call, `bowl-prep' practices. Then we're going to get six and a couple walkthroughs that are absolutely all focused at New Mexico State. From that standpoint, you could argue that it's almost a half of spring ball. It's 15 practices in spring ball. You have seven, albeit they were shorter practices, and albeit the next six are going to be more geared toward New Mexico State. But not only a guy like Jordan Love, but you have young guys that are playing big roles on defense, and I'll name some. Maika Magalei and David Woodward. You have some young D-lineman. Devon Anderson has really started playing well in November. He's a sophomore. I know I'm leaving other guys out. Ja'Marcus Ingram kind of had a spell where we were playing Cameron Haney a lot more. Ja'Marcus played better at the end of the year. For Cam Haney and Ja'Marcus to get more reps with Deante Fortenberry at corner. Those guys are going to be in a major competition to see who's going to replace Jalen Davis in the spring. That's more reps for those guys in a competition. The other two guys I'll say right now on offense are Gerold Bright and Tre Miller, who played down the stretch. One's a true freshman and one's a guy who had a position change in the middle of the season. So, these practices have helped those guys. I think it's absolutely critical for your program's development, I've said that multiple times, going to bowl games. Because they help your development. Those kids aren't redshirts anymore. We have a couple of transfers that had to sit out this year in Tipa Galeai and Fua Leilua, and now those guys are getting live reps and developmental reps, and they're kind of going with the ones, albeit the seniors and juniors are out. But here they go. They're not reading a card on scout team anymore, they're going. If we're not in a bowl game, they're not getting those reps. They just went from looking at cards and being scout team players to spring ball at the end of February. They're in development, and I think that's critical. They will be much better at the beginning of spring practice because of the benefit of a bowl game."
On the benefits of playing in a later bowl game as opposed to an earlier one:
"I have a few thoughts on that. With a later bowl game, you get more of those practices. Later bowl game, we have more time to really sink our teeth into recruiting than some of those other teams did. Some of those other teams are at a major disadvantage with an early, early bowl game. You don't get as many practices, you don't get as many days to go out and recruit. But, you know what, Christmas comes a whole lot quicker, you have more days off and more time to ski and all that just like they will after Christmas, and that is the reality. That's true."
On what has impressed him about this bowl so far through his interactions with bowl officials:
"They've done a really good job, the whole staff there. We sure appreciate the invitation and to be able to have a chance to go down there. I've talked to a couple head coaches who have actually been in the bowl game, and the anticipation of the hotel, events and practice facilities, I think that's what coaches always worry about. `How do I get my practices in?' and the meeting rooms. You're basically taking this whole operation on the second floor and first floor of this complex, and you're moving it to a resort for six days. Can we do that with ease and a lot less headaches so its same-as for the players and coaches? It seems like it's going to be a good deal."
On if this bowl experience has been better after missing last year after routinely making a bowl game:
"Sometimes when it becomes a routine, and I'll talk about 2015, you allow staleness to set in, and you allow `Yeah, we always do this.' No. Utah State doesn't always go to bowl games, and it hasn't. I know the history very, very well. To be in six bowl games in the last seven years is a huge deal here. We don't have anyone on the defensive side of the football team that played in the last bowl win here, which is 2014. There are two on offense: Kent and LaJuan (Hunt). That's it. When you have two guys in your program that have a bowl win, which means a ring, which means a great bowl experience. Listen, we have one mission, that's to go down and win. Yes, we're going to have a good time, yes it's going to be a reward. But, we have one mission, and that's to go win. All the bowl experiences I've had as a player, an assistant, as a head coach, they're good if you win. It's important for us to go play well. Two guys have a ring, which means we won. That's the goal. That's the objective. That's carried to a very upbeat, positive and energetic practices. I think you'll see a Utah State team that is very excited to be there."
On if he made any changes to the way he coaches after last year and if there's a chip on his shoulder after last year:
"I think we've gone over this a little before, but you make changes. You look at everything. We comb through everything, from A-to-Z in this program. How we recruit, how we develop, how we coach, the schemes, the people doing the systems. We made a couple changes in terms of the people doing them. We brought a couple new people in. We tweaked how we practice a little bit. We ramped up the competition, ramped it up to another level in training camp. The results are good. The results are not what we want. I don't want to be 6-6. I want to compete for a Mountain West Championship in the last week of November. We didn't do that this year. We didn't play well in the stretch in October. We lose the Colorado State game, we give up a lead in the fourth quarter and get beat by Wyoming. We can't find a way to win at the end of the Air Force game. That still sits bad with me. Are we there? No. Are we closer? Yes. Am I pretty fired up going into this offseason? More than I've ever been. Did I have a chip on my shoulder? Absolutely. And if you don't have a chip on your shoulder, an edge or something that can get you going, you're dead in this profession, and at this level. Our players did, too, though. That's the most important thing. They did. They had a resolve not to miss a bowl game. That was big for our players. When you have a player-led program, not a player-run program, a player-led program, you can have good years. That's what we've had. We've had a good year. It's not been a great year. It's been a good year, and it can finish really good. We've played the fourth-highest amount of first-year starters in Division I as anybody. I started four seniors against Air Force, two on both sides of the ball. I am jacked about this recruiting class that hopefully will finish strong in the next 48 hours because there are some guys that are immediate help, and there's going to be some new-wave O-linemen that are going to be the next wave, and I am fired up about them. You want to finish strong, find a way to win number seven and send the seniors out right. I am not done with this year, but I can't wait to blow into next year."
On if he subscribes to the idea that a bowl game can be considered the first game of next year with how many returning players the Aggies will have:
"I can see it both ways. When you have 18 out of 22 starters coming back, and you have a kicker and a punter back, and then you take two transfers that are going to become available and this recruiting class, I'm really excited about next year. So, you do look to a bowl game as a start, but the biggest thing is that we finish strong. Everything has been about finishing. Finishing finals, finishing school, making the right choices off the field, finishing in life. We still have the seniors, and we want to finish well for them. We're going to have over 50 lettermen back. That's the most we've had in a long time. It's been high 30s or low 40s, and now we're at 50-something. I think you can look at it as a step in the right direction as the first game leading into spring ball and all that. It's exciting."
On special teams helping game in and game out:
"It really has. Mark Tommerdahl's done a great job. I've said that in this setting quite a bit. He's deserving of a lot of that credit, but so are our players. We play our best players on special teams. That's always been our philosophy. That's something that never changed. Maybe we're playing too many guys on too many reps on special teams. That hasn't been the case. You have Jalen Davis covering the receiver on punt return every time. You have Dallin Leavitt and Gaje Ferguson covering punts every rep. It's been no different from the Vigil brothers, to (Kyler) Fackrell to Will Davis to Bobby Wagner. Those guys all played teams here, and that's helped them in the NFL. Access to the best players helps Mark, but our players have bought in. Some guys have given special efforts all year. DJ Nelson would be the first one I would say. He's been a berserker on every team. We do so much, we are so complicated on punt return, it's sick. I would hate to break us down, and I would hate to try to find tendencies because there are none. DJ's an extension of coach Tommerdahl on the field. Baron Gajkowski plays a ton of snaps. Woodward, Louy Compton, Aaren Vaughns, our starting slot receiver now is running down on kickoff. He's 160 pounds, and he's just blowing things up. There are a lot of those guys. Then, did anyone think we'd ever talk about Dominik Eberle, the way he played? The guy never kicked off in a game, and he's kicked over 53 percent of kicks out of the end zone and didn't have any out of bounds. To say I think he would do that kicking off, I didn't think so. Aaron (Dalton) has had a good year and is looking to have a great year next year. With all the punt blocks, special teams have kept us in some games. The fake field goal against Wyoming gave us some momentum in that game. It's been a good year on special teams."
On how the parallels between the two teams adds to the intrigue of this game:
"Just for you all. Our players don't care about any of that stuff, really. They know what their record is. The players flip on the tape and they're a good team, so we respect our opponent. We respect what they do. They're very good on special teams, as well. They've done some really good stuff. Our players don't look at conference records or last year's records, as well as nicknames being the same."
On what stands out to him about Jalen Davis and what made him such a great player:
"Let's talk about that. There are a lot of things that stand out about Jalen. First of all, we were his only Division I offer. I remember calling his dad the third week of August and saying `Verdis, you need to buy a plane ticket to Knoxville.' And he said, `Is he going to play?' I said, `Yeah, the first snap.' Because I am who I am, Jalen would laugh. I also remember him sticking his nose inside of a bubble screen, and a ball going right down the sidelines in about 4.4 seconds for a touchdown, and that was the freshman corner. I remember Todd Orlando saying, `He'll be fine. He's going to be okay, coach.' That's vivid. I remember that like it was yesterday. I remember he sat out the New Mexico Bowl, the first time he's missed a game. I remember how bad that hurt him. I remember seeing his emotions. The guy doesn't miss practice. He doesn't miss games. He's tough. He's a football junkie. He watches so much tape in there. The guy didn't even get voted pre-season all-Mountain West. As you guys know, I'm very honest with you. Yes, I know the Aggies were voted last. But there were some guys on my team that saw that, too, and used it as internal motivation. So he goes from not even being pre-season by you all, to being first-team All-American. Credit to him. The preparation, he does so much extra with coach (Dave) Scholz just trying to make his body right, eat right, sleep right. I've never had one issue with Jalen Davis off the field. Not one. Not an ounce of one. He's a tremendous student. He's going to graduate in May. The other thing I remember is texting his dad in the middle of the show in Atlanta. Jalen wasn't there, but they honored the Walter Camp All-American team. It was really cool because you see four All-American DBs first team, and it's Alabama, it's Texas, it's Iowa, and then it's Utah State. That's the only one they audibly talked about and highlighted up there. I'm texting his dad, just telling him how proud I was, and he says back to me, `I'm just glad he's graduating in May. You kept your promise.' So those are little things that you don't forget as coaches. I have great memories of Jalen. His banner's going to be on that weight room, so I'll see him for another year every day when I pull in. By the way, I told (Kyler) Fackrell he better take a picture of it because it's coming down. His is coming down. I have great memories about Jalen. He'll be hard to replace. You don't really replace him. But, we have some good guys that are coming in that will play well next year."
On how much it means that a win or a loss is the difference between a winning season and a losing season:
"It absolutely matters. We're not going to put any more pressure on ourselves because of that, but does that fact matter? Absolutely."
On the experience in Atlanta with Dominik Eberle:
"It really was cool. He handled himself first-class. To see that knucklehead signing autographs on the red carpet was funny. (Associate AD) Doug (Hoffman) and I laughed. He handled himself first-class. He handled himself like a pro. It was great. He was gracious in defeat. He's a good sportsman. He's not a sore loser. But I'll tell you what. We shared a private conversation about five minutes after that. I think he's motivated for next year. He is very well-spoken, but he also thinks very, very clearly. He can internally motivate himself very well. I think you'll see a motivated kicker in the bowl game and next year. That may not be the last time he's on that stage."
Junior Center Quin Ficklin
On New Mexico State:
"We've had a couple weeks now since our last game. We've been watching a lot of film on New Mexico State ever since we found out who we were going to be playing. They're a good team and have a really good D-line, so that'll be a challenge for us. They've had 40 total sacks this year as a team and that's third in the nation. The last two teams they've played they've held to under 50 total yards of rushing. So, I'm really excited for us as a unit to be able to go up against them and protect our quarterback, number one, and number two, plan to run the ball down their throat. That's the plan. So, I'm excited. We've had good weeks of solid practice. It's mainly been fundamentals and stuff. Today, we're going to start getting into our practicing against the scout team and against New Mexico State's looks, so that's good for us to finally get our teeth into it and be able to get ready for them. It's going to be a good game. I'm excited for it."
On what it was like not knowing for sure if the team was going to play in a bowl game:
"A big part of us not knowing what was going to happen was the fact that we lost to Air Force and that was absolutely terrible. That sucked. I still haven't forgot about it and our whole offensive unit still hasn't gotten over it yet, so it's been a lot of motivation for us to come out, play a good game and finish the season on a high note. So, I'm happy that we're going to have another opportunity to go and play a game as the Aggies this year, as this team. Then that Sunday, I kept checking Twitter, kept looking at things and then, finally, we got the news that we were finally going to a game. Then, we got the text from coaches. So, it's good, it's exciting. I'm an hour-and-a-half from there, my house is, that's where I'm from, so it'll be cool to go home and play."
On how the offensive line has come together this year with the different starters:
"We've come together pretty well. We have a lot of fun. Sometimes we have to dial it back. We're all pretty sarcastic guys. We spend as much time making our calls and making our assignments right as we do just chit-chatting with the other team's D-line and they hate it. We'll just ask them questions about how their day is going or where they're from. I like getting to know them because it helps, for me at least. The less I'm thinking about football in between plays, the better I play. It's kind of weird. It doesn't make much sense. As a unit, we hang out a lot, we spend a lot of time together, so I'm getting to know these guys."
On how his year has gone:
"It's been absolutely a dream come true. I've always wanted and I've always known I could play football at a high level as an offensive lineman, and then had this opportunity here and being able to do that all season, it's my childhood dream. I couldn't be happier with what I've been able to do here, my opportunities and the support of the staff and the university and this dream."
On being a leader instead of on the scout team:
"It's a lot different. It's pretty cool to be a key part of the offense. I've liked having that responsibility and the trust that the coaches have put in me and in our six guys that rotate on the offensive line. All of us are really happy. If you look at the five starters across the board, none of us have a conventional story as far as recruiting goes, or as far as where our past is. So, all five of us have been very unique and we've all had a chance to come here and get our job, earn it and keep it. So, it's been very cool for us."
On that being part of why the offensive line gets along the way the it does:
"None of us have just had this thing given to us. So, we've all had to really overcome our individual, very unique, personal struggles to get to where we are. So, because we are so grateful for this opportunity as individuals, as a unit we're grateful. Because of our gratitude, we work really hard and we know how to have fun while we're doing it because I see what life can be like on a team and not play, and they see what life can be like on a junior college or wherever or having to really prove yourself over and over again to get these opportunities that we've had, that we've enjoyed."
On head coach Matt Wells:
"I don't know any changes from coach Wells last year. I was not here last year. But, as far as coach Wells goes, he's been a great head coach. He's been exactly the kind of guy I want to play for. He's very serious when he needs to be, he'll correct you when you're wrong, and he'll let you know. When you're right, he'll let you know, too. That's exactly what I need for me. I respond fairly well to getting yelled at, so when he yells at me, I know that I'm wrong and I'm like, `Yeah, I know that I messed that up. Thank you for telling me that I messed that up. Let me get it better. Let me fix that.' Then, off the field, he's got an open-door policy. I can go talk to him about whatever I need to like football, life, personal issues, school, or whatever. He has really good counsel on all those things. So, he's a great head coach, and I love playing for him."
On if there is a sense of relief for coach Wells from the start of the season to now:
"He expected us to have a pretty good year, and we've had that. So, I don't think he was worried about that. As far as a sense of relief goes, I don't know. I can't speak to his psyche."
On 6-6 not being good enough for the team:
"No, it wasn't. I'm pretty frustrated with our 6-6. There were games that we really should have handily won and we didn't. We didn't execute at the end of games. So, I'm excited that I'm only a junior and we can come back next year and have a better year because .500, I'm not happy with that. I'm glad that we have this bowl game so we can end the season with a winning record and that's our plan. Tucson's a great city, but there's not much to do there. So, I want to go there and win a game. That's my main focus. It's not to go and have bowl activities, like I want to win a game. That's what we want to do."
On the improvements of the offensive line on the field through the year:
"We've played pretty well throughout the whole year. But, compared to the beginning of the season, it's not even the same guys. We're playing a lot better than we were. When I was talking to Roman Andrus a couple days ago, an offensive tackle is supposed to read a triangle, the defensive end, corner, safety and all these things, and he was like, `When we played Wisconsin, I didn't know what a triangle was.' If your left tackle doesn't know what a triangle is, it's kind of hard to be an efficient offensive line. So, we've all matured a lot. We've all watched a lot of tape individually and collectively outside of our mandatory meetings. So, we've all invested a lot of time. That's really paying off for us. But even as far as offensive line plays, I don't think any of us are really satisfied. We'll watch a game and we'll rush for 200 yards and we could've rushed for 300 or 350. So, it's frustrating that way."
On redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Love:
"Jordan's impressed me tremendously with his ability to read the defense, make the right calls, get rid of the ball on time, know when to keep it, know when to give it to a running back. Then his ability to lead us has been really nice. I also need to commend Kent Myers. He was a four-year starter, then his senior season he loses that role. But, he's been nothing but a great leader off the field and a great mentor to Jordan. He hasn't had an insidious attitude or anything like that for our program, which has been absolutely what we needed. So, that quarterback room is doing a lot of really good things right now as a unit."
On how beneficial the extra practices have been:
"It's like being your first game of the season. We have more time for this game than we've had for any other game except for maybe Wisconsin. In these two weeks, we've had time to come back, step back and focus on pure fundamentals, right footwork, have your eyes right, have your hands right, and that allows us to just really get back in the good habits we had in the beginning of the year. Now, starting today, we've had our meetings about the New Mexico State defense, what they're going to do, what their personnel is like, how they play, and this afternoon we'll be able to go and actually use the fundamentals we've been working on these past two weeks in live situations against what we anticipated will be their defense. Usually you have a Monday helmet practice, a Tuesday, Wednesday work day where you're in shoulder pads and helmets and you're hitting people, and then Thursday it's another helmet practice, and then you play in the game on Saturday. So, we're going to have two hard practices today and Tuesday, helmet on Wednesday, and then we're going to get ourselves ready to go in Arizona again. We're going to have practices there and then we'll have no reason to come out and just be fast, efficient and smack them in the mouth."
On catching a pass while playing at BYU against Michigan State:
"Well it was fourth-and-1 and they called a package in which I was in. It was the monster package, probably because I'm ugly and look like a monster, not that I'm a great physical specimen. We went out there and Taysom (Hill) called the play and I just thought to myself, `Really, this is the plan?' Because I was the primary target on that play, I thought, `Okay, if this is what we're going to do, this is what we're going to do.' I ran out there and got open and Taysom threw the ball, got two yards, so one target, one reception, two yards and a first down, I'll take it. Then he ran it in the next play for a touchdown. I'm excited to go back there and play in East Lansing next year. It'll be fun. Hopefully, I can go two-for-two."
On if he played any snaps on the offensive line at BYU:
"I did. I played in two games at BYU at offensive line."
On what jersey number he would wear at BYU:
"All week I would practice in No. 55 because I was still the backup to Tejan (Koroma), who had a great year this year, being a second-team All-American. So, I backed up Tejan Koroma and I practiced all week in No. 55. Then on game day, I would dress in No. 44 for this monster package. When I had to go in at center, I was wearing No. 44 on the sideline. They took No. 55 to every game and they had it in a chest on the sideline, so if Tejan went down or whatever happened, we'd have time to call a timeout, I'd take No. 44 off and throw 55 on. And that's what we had to do twice. Those are pretty tight jerseys, so it was kind of a spectacle having four guys rip it off me and then pull the other one on."
On if he transferred knowing Tejan had the position of center at BYU:
"Totally. I knew I had two years left and that I was a walk-on, so I could play immediately. Like I've said before, Roman Andrus has been one of my best friends in my entire college career and then he came here, gave me a call and said their center had graduated. I couldn't have asked for the stars to align any better. It was perfect for them to allow me to come in and play. What I like a lot about this, and I've told this to a bunch of recruits this year, is that the best five guys are going to play. So, if you want to compete, come here. If you want us to promise you things, don't come here, because I don't want to promise something to a player in high school and then have him come here and suck. I want to win games. That's what we're about. If someone comes in from high school and he's better than me next year, I want that player to play. I want to win football games. I don't want to be 6-6. That's what I really like about this environment here at Utah State is that the best guys play. It's been really nice."
On if Utah State can be a ball-controlled offense:
"We can. If you look at the last drive at UNLV, it was 18 plays and we went three yards, four yards, five yards, eight yards. We can control the ball and run on them. The best thing for us is that though we're a big, fat offensive line, we can run 10 plays in a row and we'll be fine and they have to sub the defense out. That's our best asset, is our desire to stay on the field as individuals and complete drives."
On if the last two games are the best the offense has been all year:
"Well, if the best our offense has been was at Air Force and we lost the game, I want to say no, because we needed to score more points and we had opportunities to do that. So, we didn't capitalize. But, we've been playing well as of late and hopefully that continues and we have our best game of the year and we win against New Mexico State. I'd rather us play New Mexico State and we have 150 yards of total offense, seven points, and they have six, and we win the game."
On if New Mexico State's pass rushers making the sacks are down linemen:
"Yeah, they are down linemen. They have really explosive ends, really fast guys coming off the edge. Their two interior D-linemen are both big heavies and I've watched six total games and I haven't seen them loaf. They play very hard. It's kind of an Aggie thing, playing hard as an O-line, D-line. It'll be a good game. It'll be a good game as far as that goes. Their D-ends make a lot of sacks. They're good players. And, they also bring pressure, you'll get sacks off pressures, too. I hope they do. I don't hope they get sacks, but I hope they bring pressure because we'll create some offense in the run game. So, we've watched a lot of stuff. We have a really good game plan. I'm really excited. It's going to be fun."
On if he had any snaps in the bowl game for BYU last year:
"I did not. No. So, I've been to three bowl games and I've played in zero. Hopefully, I'll take all the snaps this time, except maybe the fourth quarter after we have a big lead."
On if he's played on the Arizona Bowl field:
"I haven't played on that field. I've played lacrosse games in Tucson, but never football in Tucson. It'll be fun."
On everyone else's Christmas plans being thrown off:
"Mine's perfect. I fly home on Wednesday, I'll have a regular week at home, have some workouts, eat some good food, and then Christmas Day I'll wake up, have a regular Christmas, my niece will be there, she's 2, so that'll be fun. Then I'll drive over to Tucson. We need to report by 3 o'clock, so I'll leave my house at 12:30, 1 o'clock, and get there a little early."
Senior Cornerback Jalen Davis
On bowl prep the last two weeks:
"Bowl prep the last two weeks has just basically been fundamentals, just our fundamentals and basic techniques of what we've been doing, and giving the young guys more reps - more reps to see them and see what they're capable of. We haven't really worked on New Mexico State yet, but we're about to start that today. So, we'll see how that goes."
On if his life has been a whirlwind in the last couple weeks:
"No. It's been the same. Just more people saying good job, basically. More people coming out saying good job all over social media and stuff. That's basically the difference."
On his journey:
"I'm just blessed that Utah State gave me the opportunity to come here, but I always knew what I was capable of, what I can do on the football field, so that's all I needed was a chance to show my abilities and show what I can do and Utah State gave me that chance. I just made plays and did everything for them."
On what it's like to be on a bowl team three out of his four years here:
"It's always fun to go to a bowl game, but it's not fun when you don't win. That's what we're trying to do this year, is go and get that W and make it a wonderful experience."
On if teams started going less to his side as the season went on:
"I don't know. I feel like different games, people guard me more, and sometimes they don't guard me that much. So, it's just how the flow of the game is going."
On facing a team like New Mexico State that throws the ball a lot:
"It'll be a great game. They love throwing the ball, and I love defending passes. So, I can't wait to go out there and compete against them."
On what he sees from their quarterback and receivers:
"They have a good quarterback. Their quarterback is very accurate with his throws. That makes me know that I have to be on my game and on my technique to make sure I'm on the receiver's hip. They have good receivers out there, so we just have to be on their bodies and not let them catch a lot of passes."
On New Mexico State wide receiver Jaleel Scott being a challenge and if he likes that:
"I do. But still, everybody's the same to me."
On when he made All-American a goal:
"I always had All-American in my goals since I've been here. I just finally achieved it this year."
On if he told anyone about the goal:
"Just my position coach, coach (Julius) Brown. I told him I want to be All-American and he pushed me to be that. Every day in practice, he made sure I was on my A-game, made sure I was doing everything I need to do to become an All-American, so I'd like to thank him for that."
On if it is an advantage having a coach who played and coached the same spot:
"Yeah, of course. He knows what it's like being out there, so if you do something wrong, he'll be like, `Okay, I see how you did that,' and then he'll change it. He'll fix it up because he knows how it is, he knows the experience of being a corner and that's what you need as a corner is a coach who knows what those experiences are like."
On being able to focus solely on the game since the semester has finished:
"That's excellent. Now it's just strictly football, so that's all we want. It's strictly football, so that's good."
On if his team and individual goals for the season were met:
"Not both of those. The season didn't go as we wanted, but we're just hoping to finish off strong with a bowl win."
On how glad the defense is to have another game after the Air Force loss:
"We're just all excited that we were able to get one more as a family and as a unit because it would have been kind of tragic if we couldn't go out there and play with each other one more time at a bowl game. We're trying to make it count."
On if the team paid attention to media and fan responses to head coach Matt Wells:
"We don't pay attention to any of that. We know we have a great coach here, so we don't care about what any outsider says. We're just worried about what's going on in this building at Utah State."
On how he felt Wells coached this year:
"He had a big chip on his shoulder this year because of the bad season we had last year. So, he put more on his shoulders this year, just got more in our heads, kept us going and stuff like that."
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