It's lucky that San Diego State coach Rocky Long, offensive lineman Terry Poole and linebacker Derek Largent are in Las Vegas--they need some unwinding after a long day two of the Mountain West Conference football media days.
According to GoAztecs.com, the three Aztec representatives combined to spend four hours doing television interviews, three hours doing print publication interviews, three hours doing local television interviews and one hour and 15 minutes doing promotions. Long, Poole and Largent also answered questions in a total of 10 radio interviews during the day's proceedings.
Here are some behind-the-scenes looks, courtesy of GoAztecs.com.
So while those three take a deserved night off eating at some delicious, five-star Las Vegas buffet, let's take a look at what happened and what was said pertaining to SDSU football.
SDSU received 15 first-place votes in the preseason media MWC West Division poll, but Fresno State edged the Aztecs by three total points (175 to 172) to claim first place.
Sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey was the only sophomore selected to the preseason All-MWC team. Senior defensive back J.J. Whittaker joined Pumphrey on the preseason all-conference squad.
From Mountain West Network's interview with Poole and Largent:
Thoughts on what Rocky Long has meant to SDSU's program
Derek Largent: "He's really changed this program from what it was. It's been an honor working under him, and we're hoping to win another championship. As long as we keep this momentum going and work hard, it could happen."
On how Long fosters big expectations going into each football season
Terry Poole: "There are rules and goals that we set every year and we have to remember all three of them. One of them is the expectation to win the Mountain West Conference championship. We pride that and every year we cherish that and fight for that."
On playing with fellow linebacker Jake Fely
Largent: "I mean we really just jive on the field. Part of it is that Jake is such an intense guy--we all feed off of that. It's just fun hanging around him and getting to play with him, and it makes you want to play harder, yourself ... He's always motivation for us. Watching him do workouts on the side when he can't practice--it makes us hungry. And having him come back, there's so much more excitement coming."
Did Largent think he'd have the type of success he's had after transferring from junior college in 2012?
Largent: "I was just trying to make a name for myself, trying to work hard and it ended up working out for me. It goes to show you that working hard can get you places."
On quarterback Quinn Kaehler's progression since he stepped on campus
Poole: "He's very smart at quarterback, that's what helps him a lot. He got in the playbook right when he came in ... and when his time came he was ready. You could tell he was out there throwing with receivers after practice trying to get better and everything worked out for him."
How fun is it to watch wide receiver Ezell Ruffin?
Poole: "It's great. It's a relief when you see the ball in the air and you see him catch it. It's like, "Yes!" That's the greatest feeling right there: knowing that our team caught the ball, not the other team."
Were there any special plays Ruffin did that you remember from last year?
Poole: "He did a few times jumping over people. A few times he was stiff-arming people to the ground and he was still running, and he's a physical receiver--that's very good."
What kind of player is defensive back J.J. Whittaker?
Largent: "He's a really hard-nosed player. He's fast, he can read offense well. It's really exciting to watch him explode through people, you know, make plays and interceptions. And I know he's going to do that all year, too."
What kind of featured running back can Donnel Pumphrey be?
Poole: "I see a lot of things being created around Pumphrey. We all know we utilize him everywhere on the field. He's fast and athletic. People can't catch him, so he's going to bring a lot to the table."
On playing teams this season that had great success last year
Largent: "It's definitely fun to challenge ourselves. Every team we play is going to be good, we know that. We're starting with Northern Arizona and we expect a big bang out of them. And then we're going to go on from there."
What are you looking forward to on your two early road trips to Oregon State and North Carolina?
Poole: "Winning, I look forward to winning. Competing. People stepping up, really. (Other teams) showing us what they got, because you're against a good team so everybody's going to contribute and stay motivated."
On taking Aztec brand of football across the country this season
Largent: "We're going to bring our ‘A' game. We're going to work hard and prepare the right way, and we know they're going to bring it to us, too. So, you know, we're hoping to make a name for ourselves out there, for sure."
More Rocky Long quotes:
On feelings during MWC media days
Coach Long: "This is a great time because I don't feel the pressure yet. You know, 10 days from now when we start practice, I'll have a completely different attitude. Right now I have a very positive attitude because we haven't actually started practice."
On the current state of the team
Coach Long: "I think our football team as a whole has done a great job in the offseason. We had a good spring practice, they've done a really good job this summer. But when we start up in the fall, as soon as we put the pads on, we'll have an idea on how good we're going to be. I think we believe we're going to have a pretty good team. I think our team is excited about the season ahead, but we'll know a lot more in a couple weeks."
On people thinking highly of the Aztecs
Coach Long: "I think that the respect that that shows is a good thing to have, but I also believe that has nothing to do with how the season's going to come out. You've got to earn it on the field."
Even more quotes from throughout the day, courtesy of GoAztecs.com.:
Rocky Long's thoughts entering the 2014-15 season
Coach Long: "We have a chance to be a good football team as long as Quinn Kaehler stays healthy and plays as well as he did at the end of last season. We have to find a backup running back for (Donnel) Pumphrey, hopefully it will be a big, strong, pounding guy. We ought to be pretty good on offense."
Coach Long: "On defense, it is going to come down to health and safeties. We have a couple guys we hope will be well by the time we start playing. One of them is Jake Fely, who is an excellent football player but has had a series of injuries and is not cleared to play yet. (The athletic trainers) think he will be able to practice without contact and maybe be ready to play in the first game. Christian Heyward, a transfer from USC, hurt his knee playing basketball in the offseason and he is not completely well yet. This is the best defensive line since I have been here. If Jake is healthy, it is probably as good of a linebacker crew since I have been here. Last year, our corners were really young and really shaky and now they are not. They are older and are pretty darn good. We lost every single safety. We played sfive safeties last year and they were all seniors, so anybody playing safety this season is a brand new guy. They are pretty critical to our defense because they play linebacker, they rush off the edge, they play man coverage and they play zone coverage. They are very critical to our success. So on defense it is all how the safeties play. Really, it is about getting Jake Fely healthy and about how the safeties play. If the safeties play well and Jake plays well, we will be pretty good on defense."
Coach Long: "Now the kicking game, we will see. We have three kicker/punters on scholarship. That is more than anyone in the country. We were so bad last year at kicking that we recruited a high school and a junior college guy. I believe that competition makes everybody better. The three of them are going to battle it out during camp and whoever wins the battle (will have the job)."
On the safeties' importance in the 3-3-5 defense
Coach Long: "Safeties are a lot more involved in our defense than the corners are. It is a very difficult position to play physically, but safeties have the easiest assignments. You either play man-to-man, deep third or the flat. That is your total assignment. Safeties are the key to the defense."
On defensive linemen Dontrell Onuoha and Sam Meredith's health
Coach Long: "Dontrell (Onuoha) and Sam (Meredith) are fine. They are both seniors who have started a lot. Dontrell and Sam are both going to play defensive end. Both have played some nose guard, but Alex Barrett is going to start at nose guard. We have pretty good depth behind those guys."
On being picked to finish second in the MWC West Division
Largent: "It means that we've got to work our butts off to achieve anything. It starts off with game one against Northern Arizona. Those (preseason) rankings don't mean anything if you're not winning. People do have respect for our program. We've turned the program around and we're going to keep building on that. It's great to get some recognition, but bottom line we need to play football and win games."
Poole: "(The preseason rankings) don't mean anything to me. We're going to come out to play. (The rankings) are just the (media's) opinion. We set our own goals and expectations, so none of the other stuff matters."
On Whittaker and Pumphrey's all-conference team selections
Largent: "It's exciting to see some of our players get some recognition. I already knew how good these guys were, so it wasn't news to me, but it is exciting to see (the recognition)."
On the upcoming season
Largent: "It's time to get to work for sure. I feel it in the air. It's real exciting to be able to put the pads back on, being my senior year. I'm excited to work hard for my team and the city of San Diego."
Poole: "We've worked hard this summer. The hard work will all pay off. We're all anxious to get on that field and hit each other. I want to get on that field and start smacking my helmet. The start is real close. The first game is just over a month away. It will be a real exciting season."
On SDSU's goal this season
Poole: "To win our 20th conference championship. Hashtag Win20 (#Win20). Our goal that we talk about a team is to Win20 and get to a nice bowl game."