Utah State prepares for Fresno State in this weekend Mountain West title game. As he does every week head coach Matt Wells, plus players, met with media for his weekly press conference to talk about the week ahead.
Here is the video and below are select quotes from the media briefing:
Previewing Fresno State:
"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."
On Derek Carr and the Fresno State offense:
"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 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 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 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."
Junior Linebacker Zach Vigil
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 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 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."
Sophomore Wide Receiver Bruce Natson
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 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."