First thing I would like to say is how impressed I was with the trip to Notre Dame, as far as their program, their campus, and the attitude of the people there. I have been to a lot of places and that was by far the most impressive place I have been. It's just something different from anywhere we've been before. That being said, there was nothing impressive about the way that we played. We struggled offensively for the second game in a row. We didn't finish any drives. The game was pretty even statistically, but they were able to finish drives and we weren't. We did lose the turnover margin again. We also had a punt blocked. The defense didn't play bad. Looking at the raw defensive numbers, we did some good things defensively, but it obviously wasn't enough. We have to get back in sync offensively. The most pressing issue right now is to get that solved. We've got to move forward.
San Diego State is by far the most improved team in the conference. They have a lot of weapons, and the leading rusher in Ronnie Hillman. They also have the first and second leading receivers, and the quarterback is leading the conference in passing yardage. They are doing a lot of good things offensively. Their defensive is a Rocky Long defense - it is what it is. It's hard-nosed with a heavy blitz scheme. He has been doing a good job with defense for a lot of years and this year is no different.
We've got to get back on track. We were good enough to win our first eight ball games and that seems to have eluded us the last few games. We get back on the field today and get after it and continue to move forward.
Sausan Shakerin is the big one. He has been medically disqualified from continuing his football career after multiple concussions. We were looking forward to him as the heir apparent, but that is a big change in plans. He got hurt on the opening kickoff of the second half.
J.J. Williams re-injured his foot. He is most likely looking at surgery. We should get Chad Manis and Westlee Tonga back. Wykie Freeman is likely a week or two away and Junior Tui'one is on the bubble. Brad Clifford will also be back this week.
On the offense:
It's across the board breakdowns. When you are not playing well and things are not going right, you're going to question everything. You question the quarterback, you question the offensive line, you question the play calling, you question the practice week format. Everything. This is the time when that comes into play. When things get down and tough a natural reaction is to think through everything and make sure you are addressing every possible source of the problem. I said after the game that we were thinking about the quarterback position. You're thinking about anything you can do to make a spark. That was not directed at Jordan [Wynn] or to make an insinuation that there was a problem, but when things are going bad you look for anything you can do to go in the right direction.
As of now Jordan is our starter. It's a competitive situation, nothing is set in stone. Everything is subject to performance and production and that's across the board. But as of this moment in time, Jordan is our starter.
On SDSU running back Ronnie Hillman:
He is very talented and not a lot different than some of the very good freshman we've seen in the league. He's not a big back, he's elusive and extremely quick. He's exceptionally fast when he gets on the edge. To gain 1,100 yards as a true freshman is an impressive feat. He has an offensive line that's blocked well for him and a fullback in front of him who is doing a nice job. He has had a great year. He's a dangerous guy.
First, we can't feel sorry for ourselves. No one feels sorry for us. We've got to man up and fight our way through adversity. Adversity is all around us, and like I said, there is one way out - put our nose to the ground and start working. Mentally, our leadership has to step up more than ever. When everything is going well, it's easy to be a leader. When the chips are really down, you find out what you're made of and what kind of leadership that you have.
Kyle Whittingham Weekly Press Conference
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