Post Game Interviews: UTSA vs ASU

Head Coach Frank Wilson, QB Dalton Sturm, and Safety Michael Egwuagu talk about UTSA’s 32-28 loss to Arizona State.

UTSA Head Coach Frank Wilson

Transcript (provided by UTSA)

Q. Coach, can you just talk about the mood in the locker room after a heartbreaking loss like that?
FRANK WILSON: Heartbreaking, disappointed. Pointed out to the guys that we're not quite there yet. We're making leaps and bounds by the day. Great teams know how to finish. We're a work in progress. We're not a great team yet, but certainly we're heading in the right direction. And that was certainly a quality opponent we've played today. One of the leaders in Pac-12, one of the leading scorers in NCAA and I thought we did a good job of defending them and playing competitively. But we're not into moral victories by finishing second. So we're disappointed because we had opportunities where we could have won.

Q. That fourth quarter offensively, was it something they were doing? Were you guys, a combination of the two? What happened there? Seemed like you guys got stagnant there in the fourth quarter?
FRANK WILSON: Yeah, they played well. They made it difficult for us to throw the ball at times, so we wanted to put ourselves in position to run the ball and have some balance. We finished the game with a 30 and 37 pass-run ratio, and we needed to do those things to allow our defense opportunities to have relief and not be on the field and play 90-plus plays a game. So we ran the ball at times and we threw the ball underneath at times to try to pick up first downs and to keep the clock running to put ourselves in position to win the football game. So strategically, we did the things that we thought were necessary to try to win the game.

Q. Could you talk about your defense with that star running back comes into your house and you guys did a terrific job of keeping him in check?
FRANK WILSON: Yeah, we game planned and one of our keys to victory was to tackle well. He was outstanding a week ago. NCAA eight rushing touchdowns which tied the record and it was a very quality back as well as a 1200-yard back that they returned from a year ago. So I thought our defense did some things differently from a front standpoint that made them have to try to create double teams and free up our linebackers. And we were in position. We made tackles when we were able to.

Q. I wonder if you could describe the effort that Dalton gave to you guys tonight?
FRANK WILSON: Yeah, I thought he was outstanding. He played with grit, played with heart like all of our guys. They scratch and crawled and tried to claim victory. So it was a valiant effort. We love Dalton and the way that he played the game. His approach to it is the way you play this game of football. So at times we didn't protect him and he was able to extend plays and do things necessary to give us opportunities.

Q. Are you concerned with your offensive line?
FRANK WILSON: Am I concerned with our offensive line? I'm concerned with our team as a whole when we don't win the football game and there's things as a team standpoint that we need to rectify. As a whole, we'll get better. We'll continue to do the things necessary. We understand where we're at and where we need to fill those voids at. So when you're in certain down and distances and there's blitz packages and twists and games and things that go on, certainly you have to have the ability to pick it up. But also you have to have the ability for the receivers to be in the right spot with the fights and adjustments, and the quarterback has to throw the hot when those guys are displaced and they're blitzing at that time. So sometimes it looks like an offensive line deal and the receiver may not have been there or the quarterback may have held it, or at times they did not pick up blitz. So it's a combination of things. When you look at pressures or blitz, so many times it's directly at the offensive line, but there's enough blame for all of us to go around.

Q. Coach, you said there are no moral victories. But a game like this where you guys went toe to toe and disappointing end, what can you learn from a game like this moving forward?
FRANK WILSON: That we're capable. That we're capable of competing with any opponent that's on our schedule. The interesting thing prior to the game, here's what we said to the team. I want to congratulate you because you're going to play well, and we'll have an opportunity to win this football game. You're coming into our home. You're coming to the Alamo Dome and we're going to protect it. And at the end of the day, if our best isn't good enough, we'll live with that. I thought at times we played really well, but at times we sputtered. And I think if we would have played our very best, we would have had opportunities to win the game, and that's a quality opponent you're looking at from the Pac-12 in Arizona State. A well-coached team that will compete for their conference championship, I believe. So certainly there are some silver linings in it that you're proud of. The effort, the determination, the belief, the preparation, all of those things we applaud our guys for doing. In reality, we had opportunities where we could have won the game today, so that's the disappointing thing. If we had no opportunity and we were not in the game and could not, then that would have been there. But I thought we had opportunities to play against a quality opponent and we had our shots. We led throughout the duration of the game until the back end, and that's okay. Even at the back end, find a way to win the football game, and we're not quite there yet.

Q. About your defensive effort, it seemed like they had some great plays much of the game, with Ballage and all those guys. What specifically were they doing so well as they played for most of the game pretty well?
FRANK WILSON: Our defense, supporting the run. You know, gang tackling, rallying to the football. One guy holding up, the other guy over there to assist, pursuing to the football. We knew they would try to run the ball. We knew they would take shots. When you put that many men in the box at times, you know, you put your corners at risk at times because you've made a commitment to a team that one of the leaders in the nation in rushing the football to stop them. So our corners held up for the most part. They took a couple shots, they cost them balls. That's football, man. That's going to happen. Just allow us, when they catch it, tackle them. If they catch it, we'll come back the next time. And the percentage of them -- the percentage of the times that they'll make that throw down the field was not in their favor or generally not in anyone's favor. So we took our chances and played aggressive to stop the run, and I think it paid dividends for us.

Q. What did you think of the fan support today? The crowd seemed like they were really into this game. Can you talk about that?
FRANK WILSON: I'm so proud of our student body. You know, they came out and they supported, 30,000 fans, I believe, reported 29-something. We needed them, and they were an inspiration to us throughout the duration of the game. If we can continue to have that support from this community, from our student body, from the San Antonio area and the Roadrunner family, we'll be all right because they certainly are the 12th Man for us. When we try to have a third down stop, and you're playing a team that's no-huddle and they have communication problems, we attribute that to our fan base because they were loud, they were rowdy, and they played a significant role in today's game.

Q. How do you feel about your team going into conference starting next week?
FRANK WILSON: Yeah, conference starts next week. You know, this one's tough. I wish I could tell you we played a game today against a quality opponent and we should be happy. The truth is, we're not. We're happy for their effort. We're happy for their preparation, but it hurts. It hurts because I wanted it for them. I wanted them to have an opportunity on this stage to be able to get a victory. Unfortunately, we did not. But we'll get there. We'll get there. I think we play in a very great conference in Conference USA. I think this team will be able to compete with every team in our conference. We'll lick our wounds and deal with this one tomorrow and move forward and start preparing for Old Dominion on Sunday.

QB Dalton Sturm and S Michael Egwuagu

Transcript (provided by UTSA)

Q. Dalton, can you talk about the mood in the locker room?
DALTON STURM: Proud of the effort that we had. But I felt like everybody else in the locker room, it hurts. Coming into a game like this, a lot of people are calling us underdogs, but we expected to win. So it wasn't a surprise to us. We've just got to find a way to finish in the fourth quarter.

Q. Dalton, could you talk about the offense in the fourth quarter? It seemed like was it something they were doing differently? It seemed like you guys got a little stagnant there in that fourth quarter?
DALTON STURM: No, that's just the game of football. We've got to find a way to get out of it. They weren't doing anything that I haven't seen all game. So definitely just got to find a way to get out of it. Usually it takes one big play, and you're right out of it and start making plays again. Like I said, just got to find a way to make plays.

Q. Dalton, are you concerned about your running game? Outside of you, I think the team had about eight yards rushing.
DALTON STURM: Oh, no, not at all. We've got two great backs right there. Our O-line they're going to do a great job. That front was pretty good. I think on average they only allowed about 57-yards rushing. We'll pick it up for sure. We'll go back to work, and Dub and Jaylon had great games thanks to the O-line so I'm not worried at all.

Q. Can you talk about Arizona State's offense in the third and fourth quarters? They seemed to get it rolling a little. I mean, did they wear you guys down?
MICHAEL EGWUAGU: I wouldn't say they wore us down. I think defensively we have to continue doing what we did in the first half. We have to wrap up. We have to pursue to the ball and we have to execute. We have to be better. We have to finish the game out.

Q. Michael, Coach said no moral victories. With that said, what positives can you still take away from tonight?
MICHAEL EGWUAGU: I think offensively we did some great things and I think defensively we did great things as well. I think what Coach means by no moral victories is that there is still room to get better. We did some good things. By no means should we be complacent. By no means should we be complacent with being second best. We always want to win. We always want a victory, and we're going to get better, and I think that's exactly what that is.

Q. Along those lines, can you talk about the preparation of the defense? You guys, really Ballage comes in here after scoring eight touchdowns and you only score one. Unfortunately for you guys it was the game winner. Can you talk about how you tackled really well, and everything was crisp defensively? You really put a lot into it.
MICHAEL EGWUAGU: Right, I think defensively and offensively for that matter, this week in practice we put an emphasis on just executing and speaking strictly for the defense, we talk a lot about pursuing to the ball, a lot of gang tackling. So if one guy's in there, then we need two, three, four guys to jump on his back, get the tackle down and just swarm to the ball and be tenacious on defense. I think we did a lot of that but like I said, there is always room to get better.

Q. Dalton, if you could talk about after the call that gets overturned on the interception, what was your belief level at that time in winning the game? What did you tell the guys in the huddle when you got things going?
DALTON STURM: 100% we always believe we're going to win. When we have a chance to go down and score, we have to take advantage of it. The guy went out of bounds and came back, and I caught the ball. So we were fortunate to get the ball back there. I've got to be smart with the ball in those situations and we had some open guys. I had a seam route and I kind of overthrew him. I've got to make plays whenever it counts.

Q. Mike, I wanted to ask, (Inaudible) how does this one compare to those other games?
MICHAEL EGWUAGU: I think we've come a long way from both of those seasons. I think we're a different team from both of those seasons. We just have to finish as an entire team defensively, on special teams, on offense we have to finish and we have to capitalize on more opportunities. We have to get over that hump. We have to get over that hump and we just have to capitalize.

Q. You guys were three touchdown underdogs and people didn't expect much about your game. What do you feel the nation learned about you watching this game?
MICHAEL EGWUAGU: We can play with anybody in the nation, and we believe that. We believed that coming into this game, and we believe that after the game as well.

DALTON STURM: Yeah, we kind of looked at it, I mean, we don't really care about what the numbers were or what the under and over was, whatever. But regardless, everybody's going to see it. People are going to see it. People are going to post it and see it on Twitter and anything. You're going to see what the over under is and what the motivation. Just like you're going to come in, and no matter if we're 50-point underdogs, we're going to hit you in the mouth and play down-low football and toss it over your head. We're just going to play our game and play pretty much with all of our hearts. That's all we're going to do every time.

Q. You guys keep saying you have to finish and there are no moral victories. But a game like this, you guys don't look too upset. I know you're hurt that you lost the game. But does this provide a springboard as you head into conference play?
MICHAEL EGWUAGU: One, we're very upset. We're upset. There's no doubt about it. It's a bitter taste in our mouths. But as far as a springboard, I think all it does is show we can play with anybody. And that shows it to everybody else because we already knew that. So whenever we say no moral victories, that means we have to finish. We have to capitalize on other team's mistakes. We have to minimize our mistakes, and we have to execute on every phase of the team.

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