San Diego State quotes

San Diego State is coming off a tough loss to Wisconsin, but seem to have some confidence heading into the Utah game. Here are quotes from head coach Chuck Long and select players.

Head Coach Chuck Long

On the loss to Wisconsin last Saturday:
"We had tough loss on Saturday against Wisconsin. It was a hard-fought football game. As a head coach, the first thing you want your guys to do is play hard, and they did that. I told them in the locker room after the game that they played hard and well enough to win, but it didn't happen. We have to learn to finish in the fourth quarter like the previous game. We have to learn and get over the top that way. I also told them the only way I know to build confidence for a football team and get over that hump is to roll up our sleeves and go back to work. It's the fastest and surest way I know. Our focus this week has been getting back to work and gaining more confidence in what we're doing."

On the different phases of the game against Wisconsin:
"I did like the fact that we showed vast improvement in our special teams from the first game, especially Michael Hughes. He punted 12 times in the game--which is too many--but for punting that often, he did a great job. We had a chance to down a couple (of kicks) inside the five-yard line, and he gave us that opportunity. I thought we played well defensively. We held a big Wisconsin team scoreless in the first half. We need to work towards finishing the game off, but we played great pass coverage all day. Offensively, we haven't hit our stride, obviously. We need to find a way to run the football. That's been a sore spot--hanging our hat on a run or a couple of runs. Finding a running game is a high priority. We just have to go back to work."

On quarterback Darren Mougey's performance:
"I liked the way Darren handled himself. It was his first start. I threw caution, because when you start, it's a lot different than coming off the bench. I told him it was a lot better start than my first start (as a player)."

On facing Utah:
"We're excited for the challenge of Utah this week. I told the guys that this is a new week. This is a conference game, and we still have goals out there in front of us. It's our conference opener at home, and I know our guys will be excited and revved up to play on Saturday night."

On improving the running game:
"We're looking at our schemes. We went back to see what was really good for us in training camp, so we're going to work on those schemes. We're also going to try and be more patient with it. We need to feed guys like (running back) Lynell Hamilton the ball a little bit more and stick with it. On Saturday, we had an 11-play opening drive. We had a good mix going, but it just stalled. We have to find better balance. Darren Mougey is going to be an excellent player for us, but to ask your quarterback to win games every single time is not fair to him or our offense."

On Utah:
"With Utah, this will be our first opportunity to face a spread offense. Their quarterback, Brett Ratliff, played well in the Emerald Bowl (last year), and he's off to a great start this year. They want to spread you out and throw the ball. Defensively, they play a lot of man coverage, and they like to blitz off of that. They have two big tackles (Kelly Talavou and Paul Soliai) inside who are going to be a challenge for us, and they have an experienced secondary. They also like to keep an extra guy in the box and play a lot with a single safety. We're going to have to throw the ball. I've talked before about our running game, but we have to have balance and throw the ball, especially when they're going to load the box on us."

On playing in front of a big crowd this week at home for the SkyShow:
"We're excited for the SkyShow and all the fans coming out. We feel like it's going to be an electric crowd. We want to make it an electric game, too. We'd like to score a bunch of points and win the game. That's our goal. We're excited for this week, and our guys will be up and ready to go. We're in a game-week mode right now. These are our first back-to-back games of the season. We played UTEP on a Thursday night and then had to wait two and a half weeks for Wisconsin. Now we can get into that rhythm of the season. (The bye week) almost felt like an extended training camp. It kind of feels like we've played five games already, because we've had such an extended training camp. But now we're in that rhythm of the season, which I like, when the games come a little faster. It's going to be up to me to make sure they're fresh come Saturday. I don't want to leave it all on the practice field."

Senior nose tackle Jonathan Bailes

On Utah:
"We're studying the film from last year's game since we executed well against them. It was a good ballgame for us as a defense. We'll look at those clips from last year and try to use some of that (success) in the game plan for this year. (The defensive line) is going to try to cause havoc and get to the quarterback, making sure he isn't too comfortable back there. We want to make it easier for our secondary."

On opening up Mountain West Conference play:
"We're 0-2 right now but a win (in our first conference game) will lift the confidence in our team. We have confidence in ourselves, but we just need to finish our games. The more confidence we have, the more confidence our fans will have (in us). We are a good team, we just need to pull these games out."

Sophomore Quarterback Darren Mougey

On the Wisconsin game:
"It was a bit frustrating offensively for us, but it was encouraging to see the defense go out there and play well against Wisconsin. We never got things going offensively and never really got into a rhythm. It was frustrating, but there are things that we can learn from and we'll move on."

On playing in front of a big crowd at Wisconsin:
"It was fun playing in front of a big crowd - good fans and the Big Ten. But when you are out there playing, you don't get lost in that stuff and you just play the game."

On finishing the game strong:
"We've only had two games and two games don't really show (how we can finish). We did a good job of finishing in our first game (against UTEP). We came out and scored some points in the second half, and rallied in the third and fourth quarter. It was a different story in our last game (against Wisconsin). We never really got things going offensively and it puts our defense in a bind when they are out on the field that long. Coach Long puts us in different situations (during practice) and that really helps."

On working on SDSU's third-down conversion percentage:
"It's always hard on third downs when you're stuck in third and long situations; you never want to get to that point. You want to get more yards on first and second down, but those are the things we work on everyday in practice and we'll figure it out."

Senior safety Brett Sturm

On playing in front of a big crowd at the SkyShow this Saturday:
"That's the game when we get most of our fans out there. It's nice to go to Qualcomm (Stadium) and try to fill up that stadium. It will be a good experience for all of us."

On Utah's offense:
"We know they are going to be throwing the ball a lot more than our first two opponents. They've got some good players on offense and our secondary is in for a real challenge. They have fast receivers and are going to be throwing the ball down the field a lot more, and we really haven't seen that (this season)."



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