Oct. 28, 2003
HEAD COACH Rocky Long
Question: Why has UNLV lost leads in close games this year?
Rocky Long: "I don't think UNLV has been too conservative with the leads they've had in games. They lost those games because of the mistakes they've made in critical times. When you watch UNLV against BYU, UNLV is dominating the football game 13-0, and it should be worse, but then they had a personal foul and fumbled the fall inside their own 10-yard line. BYU had hardly made a first down and the score is 13-7. The last three weeks, plays like those keep happening to them."
"They move the ball well and play good defense. They just happen to make critical mistakes at critical times and lose close games."
Q: How different is UNLV's defense from UNM's?
RL: "Well, it's a little different because they line up with three linemen and four linebackers. We use our safeties to blitz off the edge and they use their linebackers. The basic defensive philosophy is the same, they just use a four-man secondary and we use a five-man secondary."
Q: How does UNLV measure up against UNM?
RL: "Physically, it's a very even match-up. They're a very talented football team. They have two running backs and two wide receivers that are as good as any in the league and they have the top defensive back in the league. Their defensive line is big and strong up front - 295, 300 and 300 pounds. They're as talented as any team in this league."
Q: What was the key to the running game versus Utah?
RL: "I thought our running backs (DonTrell Moore, D.D. Cox) did an excellent job at Utah. There were times when they got into the secondary without anyone touching them, so you have to give credit to the offensive line. Other than the swinging gate, which we did run against BYU, all of the plays were exactly the same plays we've run for the last four-to-five weeks. Exactly the same plays. All of a sudden, everyone thinks we've started calling different plays. I think we just executed well versus Utah. There were several times in other games where we didn't move the ball and the right play was called, and we either missed a block or misread a pitch. I thought the swinging gate was a great call."
Q: Did you expect to run the ball that well against Utah?
RL: "We thought we could run the ball, but not as well as we did. We thought we could make them go into an eight-man front because they like to play with a seven-man front. What was unexpected was that when they went into an eight-man front we were still able to run the ball. The eight-man front they were playing also got us a couple of big-time pass plays because the play-action pass locked up their corners one-on-one on our receivers. There were no extra safeties back there to help. When you can run the ball on an eight-man front, things are going right - your runners are finding the holes and your line is blocking well."
Q: How do you handle your team after such a big win over a nationally-ranked opponent?
RL: "Obviously, we're addressing the situation. We have a fairly mature football team so hopefully they realize that one win doesn't win anything. Our staff has preached that from day one. There's no game more important than any other game. It doesn't make a difference what your record is or what games are ahead of you. Hopefully our players believe that. If our players aren't focused, they'll realize real soon that UNLV can play."
Q: Which is harder - to make a team believe after a tough loss or to get them ready for the next game after a big win?
RL: "I think it comes down to recruiting. If you have good guys in your program with good character and are good competitors, they always respond well when things are bad. On the other side, good competitors are never satisfied. So I expect our team ready to play on Saturday. I'll be surprised if they're not."