Quotes From The Tucanos Media Luncheon
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/28/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Sept. 28, 2004

Head Coach Rocky Long

Question: Considering the way Utah is playing and this being a conference game, how big of a game is this?

Rocky Long: "It's a big game because it's our conference opener and they're considered the best team in the league."

Q: Given the people you lost on defense are you surprised how well the defense has played?

RL: "I was surprised about how well the defense played last week. I think the defense has played to a point where we keep people out of the end zone, but we haven't played as good on defense as I want to, other than last week. We will before the seasons over."

Q: Is Utah doing more things offensively than they were last year?

RL: "I think Utah is doing a lot more of what they want to do. I think last year they tailored their offense to fit the people they had. Now they are doing what they want to and it is more extensive than it was last year, because their system has been in place for a longer amount of time. They want to be a four wide receiver team and last year their best player was the tight end, so they did some different things. Now they are doing everything they did at Bowling Green."

Q: Does that make it more difficult for you, your coaches and players to adapt?

RL: "You can't be as complicated on defense as we like to be and we have one less day to practice. Now I don't know who that favors. I don't know if that favors an offensive team or a defensive team. It probably favors the team who has the best feel for what the other team does. They have seen our defense more than last year when we played and their offense is kind of new, so we?re seeing their offense for the first time. I think our defense is hard to get ready for in a week too, but their offense is really hard to get ready for in a week."

Q: How would you compare this Utah team to some of the really good teams in the history of the conference, whether it be the MWC or the WAC?

RL: "I think they're comparable to the better teams that played in the WAC, even the BYU national championship team. I think they are very comparable to that, but the difference in our league is that there is not a dominant team. I think the rest of the teams in this league come up closer to that standard, where as my experience in the WAC was that BYU was so much better than everybody else that you were playing for second place and I don?t think that is the case anymore. Utah has the best talent and experience coming back, so obviously they're one of the best teams in our league, but there are a lot of teams in our league that could beat them."

Q: What is the status on DonTrell Moore?

RL: "I don't know, we'll see how he is today. He jogged a little bit on Sunday and he has rehabbed the last two days. We didn't have practice yesterday, so we'll see how he practices today and tomorrow, and if he is sound of body, then he will play and if he is not, then he won't play until next week."

Q: So right now are you planning on not having him?

RL: "I would say we are going into practice considering him hurt. Now if he gets out there and looks good in practice that can be changed in a matter of two or three minutes."

Q: Will you have game plan for (Utah QB) Alex Smith, because of his running ability?

RL: "We won't spy him if that's what you mean. We won't put a guy just sitting there watching the quarterback. We will try to be more disciplined in rush lanes. We played a couple of guys so far this year that we didn't care if they got out of the pocket or not, and we rushed accordingly. Then we played last week and were concerned about keeping those guys in the pocket and we're concerned with keeping Smith in the pocket to."

Q: Who would be your backup tailback if DonTrell Moore can't play?

RL: "Probably (junior fullback) Adrian Byrd."

Q: You got to Smith pretty good last year, how much different or better is he?

RL: "He is a lot better player right now than he was last year. He has great athletic ability, but he had that last year. He has a much better feel for their offense. I think he's reading defenses better. You see him checking to things to take advantage of defenses. I don't think we'll surprise him with any blitzes. I think he'll know they're coming. I think he'll know where they're coming from. I think he'll know if a guy is going to come free or not based on the protection, which means he?ll get rid of [the ball] quick. If it's a protection that will pick up [the blitz], then he'll wait for a receiver to open up deeper down the field. He is much better player this year then he was last year."

Q: Can you take advantage of what Air Force's offense did them?

RL: "It's completely different."

Q: Does that mean that Utah is soft?

RL: "No, not at all. The wishbone is not a power offense, it is a finesse offense, because they don't block people. They leave three or four guys unblocked then read them and option off of them. We are a power running team. Now we do run some option, but it's not triple option, it's a double option where either the quarterback carries it or pitches it. It doesn't lock a defense down like the triple option. The triple option locks pursuit down and you don't pursue on the triple option as well because you have to check out the fullback and then check the quarterback before you run to the pitch. So what Air Force does, isn't related to our offense at all."

Q: So you expect to see a good defensive Utah team here Friday night?

RL: "Yes, I think they are a very good defensive team. I think the reason Air Force had success is because the wishbone is almost impossible to get prepared for in three days and that's why Air Force is smart running it."

Q: Who is going to return punts this week?

RL: "It's going to be decided in the next couple of days when we decide which one of them can catch it the best. We put the guy back there that, number one, catches it and then, number two, does something with it that is an added bonus. To this point in the season we had only one guy that would catch it every time, so we are going to let them practice this week and see who is the second best guy at catching it."

Q: How much are you sweating that at this point?

RL: "I think that's a key. It doesn't matter if you gain one yard returning punts, what matters is catching the ball. If you don't catch it, then it is a huge momentum shift if they recover the fumble. That's what happened to Texas Tech (against New Mexico) isn't it. It's amazing how that momentum shifted to our side when that guy dropped that punt. We have two or three guys who are pretty good at it, but in practice when they drop every fifth or sixth one you get nervous. The top two or three guys are Gabriel Fulbright, Brandon Payne, Hank Baskett and Marcus Smith."

Q: If DonTrell plays as a running back, will he return punts this week?

RL: "No, not this week. If he gets to where he tells me he's 100 percent healthy, he will start returning punts again."

Q: How is Hank Baskett's ankle?

RL: "He was hobbling on Sunday. I hope it is a lot better today. We had three hobbling on Sunday: DonTrell, Hank and Logan Hall."

Q: How are the Utah return men?

RL: "They are really good. They always have good returners. They had the best one I've ever seen in Steve Smith. He was the best return guy in person I have ever seen. He was a pretty good wide receiver too."

Q: Would you try anything different if your kickers can?t get the kickoffs into the end zone?

RL: "I am really surprised that our kickers don't kick it in the end zone or out of the end zone, because they do it everyday in practice. Everyday in practice they kick it eight yards into the end zone or through the back of the end zone and we have yet to do that in a game. We will kick it to them and see if we can cover it at the beginning of the game. Now in the past they have forced us to bloop them and squib them, so we might have to resort to that."

Q: Will Utah pose the biggest difficulty for the cornerbacks?

RL: "Our cornerbacks are challenged every week. Utah's receivers are the same caliber as Washington State, Oregon State and Texas Tech."

Senior Offensive Tackle Claude Terrell

Question: Do you think the win against New Mexico State will give you guys more confidence going into this weekend's game against Utah?

Claude Terrell

Claude Terrell: "I think so. We are a very confident team right now and I believe that we will be ready. As a team we know what we are capable of doing whether we play a team that is ranked or not."

Q: The last two years against Utah, the Lobos have come out on top - what type of preparation do you guys do to get ready for a game like this?

CT: "I think that coach (Rocky) Long does a great job preparing us mentally and physically for each game. The fact that Utah is known to be a physical team fires us up even more because we want to take that title away from them."

Q: What is it going to take in order to come out 3-2 after the weekend?

CT: "In order to come out on top this weekend it's going to take an entire team effort from the defense, offense and the special teams. I am extremely confident in my teammates and I know that we are going to get the job done."

Q: In your opinion, what team do you think is more motivated to play this game?

CT: "I know that we have a lot of desire to play this game because we want to be the ranked team. As a team we're still trying to find our identity this season, and what better way to do that against a top-10 team on national television."

Senior Linebacker Nick Speegle

Question: Coming off the win this weekend, what type of momentum do you guys have preparing for Utah?

Nick Speegle

Nick Speegle: "I think that it gave us some momentum, but win or loose this is a whole new game that we need to get ready for."

Q: What is it about Utah that makes them such a dangerous team to play?

NS: "I think that they have a very effective offense and their defense always plays hard. The entire team is a threat, but that only motivates us to play them harder."

Q: Who do you think is more motivated to play this weekend, the Lobos or the Utes?

NS: "I think that the amount of aggression is probably equal. The fact that we have won the last two match-ups against them probably makes them want a win even more. For us, it's a game on our schedule that is a must win in order to get the respect we deserve."

Senior Fullback Landrick Brody

Question: Who is more motivated, a New Mexico team trying to beat a ranked opponent, or a Utah team who has been beaten by you guys twice?

Landrick Brody

Landrick Brody: "I definitely say that we have motivation, but you have to look at it from their standpoint. They have lost to us two years in a row, so I'm sure they'll be coming in here trying to beat us, just as much as we are trying to knock off a ranked opponent."

Q: Why is it that you guys match up so well with Utah, that you have been able to beat them the last two years?

LB: "I think Utah and us may be the two most physical teams in the conference. We both bring that aspect to the game. So that makes the match up a lot better."

Q: Does the fact that DonTrell Moore is questionable for Fridays game, change anything in the backfield for for you guys?

LB: "Well, of course. DonTrell posseses some ability that a lot of us don't have, but I think we'll be alright. D.D. is a slasher, we have myself and Byrd that also have a lot of ability, and we have other backs that also have the ability to help our team. I think we will be fine. Plus we have a great offensive line and once you have an offensive line like we do, you can do alot of things regardless."

Q: What do you guys know about Utah? What do you have to be aware of about their team?

LB: "We all know they have an explosive offense, they run a lot of different plays and they have a lot of playmakers. Their defense is very physical. They have people that just run to the ball, and they can make plays. Their defensive front, is the biggest I've seen all season."