Quotes From The Tucanos Media Luncheon
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/19/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 19, 2004

Head Coach Rocky Long

Question: Are you worried that San Diego State finds a way to win a game?

Rocky Long: "I think they're in the same boat we are. I think they have some talented players, but because of some injury factors and other things they haven't played as well as they anticipated they would play. I think they have a lot of good football players and I think most good football players come to play no matter what the situation is. So they're talented, they'll come to play and if they hit stride, then we're in trouble."

Q: Is it easier or harder to make adjustments to a new quarterback (redshirt freshman Kevin O'Connell)?

RL: "They're going to do the same things and he played the whole second half against Colorado State, and some against Nevada. He's played a total of two games when you count all of his time. We've seen him on film and I think they're putting him in there because he's better at getting out of trouble."

Q: What kind of arm does O'Connell have?

RL: "Good. He was a highly recruited guy coming out of high school. He's 6-6, 230 pounds and can really throw the ball."

Q: Is odd to see San Diego State known more for their defense than their offense?

RL: "I don't know if they are. I think they're really good on defense and they were one of the better teams on defense last year, and with nine of the 11starters back you know they're going to be really good."

Q: As talented as they are, do you think they have under achieved?

RL: "No, I think they've had some situations out of their control. They've lost a couple of starting offensive linemen from time-to-time. One of their starting tackles didn't play last week. They were counting on the running back (Lynell Hamilton) to be a big time player this year and he never got to play. They thought he was going to be healthy, but he never got to 100 percent so they held him out. I think in our whole league, and I've said this before, our top 22 (starting 11 on offense and starting 11 on defense) can play with almost anybody in the country, but in our league, if you lose a key guy, you go from being pretty good to being very average or poor. I think that's how it is with every team in our league."

Q: It was nice to see other guys get in the endzone last weekend - does that cause teams to now look at other guys to defend?

RL: "I think we did some good things on offense last week. We showed them some things they haven't seen much of this year and it gave some other guys a chance to do something with the ball, which was nice to see."

Q: Will you be showing some more new things this week?

RL: "Yeah, we'll do some other things this week that we haven't done in a while or that we haven't done before. We will also expand on some of the things we did on Saturday. There are about three plays that come off the triple option out of the shotgun. There are several plays that come off the fly sweep too. You can stop the fly sweep if that's all you run out of it, but all the other things that come off of it keep you from killing that play."

Q: How would you compare Kirk Morrison to other defensive players in the league?

RL: "He reminds me of the middle linebacker that played at BYU and was a first round draft choice - Rob Morris. I think Morrison is faster than Morris was."

Q: Is he a tough guy?

RL: "Oh yeah. He'll hit you, he runs hard to the ball and he does a good job of avoiding and shedding blockers. He's probably the best linebacker in our league and he's one of the best linebackers in the country. I think him and the safety from UNLV (Jamaal Brimmer) are the two best defensive players in our league."

Q: When they have one good player like that, do you run right at him or around him? Do you attack him?

RL: "You can't run at him if he's right in the middle of the field. There's only one way to run right at him and it's to give it to the fullback. My theory is, and the one they're using is, to put your best player right in the middle of the field and don't move him and move everybody else around him. That's what they do with him and he's right in the middle of the field every snap."

Q: Does he blitz then?

RL: "They blitz him sometimes, but not very often. He lines up on the center almost 90 percent of the game. He's about five and half yards deep, so you know where he is. Now the trouble is to block him and keep him from making plays, and nobody else had done it yet."

Q: Does that mean Ryan Cook blocks him most of the time?

RL: "No, because they can shade Cook with a defensive lineman and keep him from getting off or they can slant into Cook. They do a good job up front of protecting him too. It's the same theory we used with Urlacher except we put him seven or eight yards deep and nobody could block him. The only guys who could block him were the wide receivers cracking on him and most of those guys don't want to block guys like that. You can crack Morrison, you can find him every time, but now the first time he sees a 180 pound receiver coming at him the receiver's going to be out of the game and nobody else is going to want to do that."

Q: Rocky, you said all along that you thought you were going to have a pretty good football team, can you sense some momentum building here?

RL: "I don't think we're as good right now as I anticipated and I think it's back to the injury factor. I thought by now that Kole (McKamey) would have had 95 percent of the snaps and would be acting like an experienced quarterback, but because of his head traumas he really only has what amounts to four or five games of experience this season. So without the experienced quarterback situation, and our running backs are still a little beat up, we've had some key guys play less than 100 percent or not play at all, so the development has been slow. If those guys had been healthy, we would probably be were I thought we would be now. We're probably two weeks behind."

Q: Defensively are you were you expected to be?

RL: "No, I don't think our safeties have developed as fast as I had hoped and up until the UNLV game, I thought our young defensive linemen were slow to develop, but they played really good against UNLV. We had two redshirt freshmen play really good and Evroy Thompson played really good, so maybe they've hit their stride."

Q: You mention the safeties not coming along as fast as you had hoped, is that why Ditmore has seen more time?

RL: "No. If you look at our safeties, we're playing them all, besides Josh Bazinet, because all of them have been so inconsistent. We don't know what we're going to get from week-to-week. One week one of them will play really well and then the next they won't. So other than Bazinet, you'll notice that the others are playing almost equal time. We're trying to develop all of them, so this won't happen next year."

Freshman Wide Receiver Marcus Smith

Question: How much confidence did last weekend's win give you guys?

Marcus Smith: "I felt like it gave us a huge boost mentally and physically for the rest of the season. It's just what we needed in order to stay focused for the rest of our season."

Marcus Smith

Q: It seems like you've had a bigger role lately with the offense, are you happy with your contributions this year as a Lobo?

MS: "Switching from a running back to a wide receiver has been great. I love getting into the games and helping out my team as much as possible."

Q: How much of a difference does it make playing at home instead of being on the road?

MS: "I think that it makes a huge difference because of the impact of our fans. Playing at home gives us the momentum that we need in order to get pumped up and ready to play. Having the spark from the fans is almost like giving us an extra man on the field."

Q: What can you expect from San Diego State this weekend?

MS: "I'm anticipating them to come out hard and give everything that they have. They have tremendous team speed and extremely knowledgeable coaches, so we can't take this game lightly."

Sophomore Quarterback Kole McKamey

Question: Do you think that after this weekend you've gained confidence as a team?

Kole McKamey: "I think after this weekend it made us realize that we are still in this Mountain West race for a conference championship. In terms of confidence, I believe that the win against UNLV gave us just what we were looking for."

Kole McKamey

Q: What was it like for you getting back in the saddle last weekend?

KM: "It felt like I hadn't played in forever. I wasn't able to play against Air Force and honestly I couldn't even remember the Utah game. I felt a little anxious the first couple of series, but once I got going I felt better."

Q: In your opinion, what type of a team is San Diego State?

KM: "I expect them to come out extremely physical and constantly putting a lot of pressure on me. The match up between the two of us is something that I'm really looking forward to."

Q: What do you expect to see from San Diego State Defensively?

KM: "They are definitely going to challenge our offense until the very end of the game. They're considered to be the best defensive team in our conference, so we need to make sure we don't take them lightly."

Junior Linebacker Mike Mohoric

Question: Going into this week's game how much confidence do you guys have after your win last week?

Mike Mohoric: "Well I think we feel like we should have won a lot of our previous games. So we have a lot of confidence, especially after our win against UNLV."

Mike Mohoric

Q: Do you think you guys have that swagger you had after the Texas Tech game, after the win against UNLV?

MM: "Yeah, just looking back at those games that we lost, a couple plays could have made the game go either way, but I think we do have the confidence in our team to go out and execute this weekend against San Diego State."

Q: You guys seem to have San Diego State's number the last few years. It's a team that you guys seem to play really good against, can you comment on this?

MM: "Well they are a really good team, they have some really good athletes. They are kind of in the same boat as us - they want to win. This conference is pretty evenly matched, so I expect them to be ready to play."

Q: What kind of team do you expect from San Diego State? You mentioned them being in the same boat as you guys, they are 0-2 in conference, and are playing in an away game, much like you guys last week - will you be facing a desperate team?

MM: "I think so. I think everyone in the league is pretty desperate. We lost two games last year and we still ended up second, so in this conference it's pretty much anyone's game. Utah is in first place right now, but second place is kind of up for grabs."

Q: Looking at the larger picture, and second place, you know you have to win all your games now and there is really no room for error.

MM: "Well we just have to take it one game at a time, and we can't overlook San Diego State at all. They are a good team, so they will be ready to play and so will we."

Q: When you look at the larger picture, does it become overwhelming knowing you have to win all four games to end the season?

MM: "We always seem to finish strong, but we don't want to overlook anyone, and we also don't want to look too far down the road. We need to just focus on San Diego State, and we'll worry about next week when it comes."