Opening: I thought we practiced hard and got a little bit better. ON offense we did a good job for the most part pass protecting against a really nice complement of blitzes. We’ve been saying all week, they’re hard to see coming, they do a nice job of disguising and they’re hard to pick up and I thought our young guys did a pretty solid job and allowed Jake to set his feet. I thought Jake threw the ball pretty well. He had one pick he would probably like to have back. they disguised the coverage. They’re really good and those type of things. But we battled, we did a good job. Thought our defense played hard, very, very, hard with their backs to the wall and they answered for us. We absolutely have a lot to work on but if we can continue to stay healthy and practice really hard. I think that’s the key. I think we practice hard. You have to practice hard to get better and sometimes you get dinged and Jake Eldrenkamp got a little dinged here in practice and so we think we can get him back quickly but that happened late in practice so next man up and three freshmen go and a sophomore and Sifa, the old man there and thought they did a good job.
Performance of OL: I think that’s credit starting with Chris Strausser being able to cross train those guys a little bit, especially when you’re trying to get guys locked into one position let alone all these different positions. But that’s how it goes. You only have so many guys ready to roll and I thought those kids from my vantage point did a nice job. I’m anxious to go look at the film and see how it really was. I think for the most part they protected Jake well enough for him to set it feet and throw the ball downfield and the run game can get a little bit better. We got something going there a little bit late but that’s sometimes what happens with that blitzing style of defense it can affect your run game as much. It’s nothing we didn’t expect but I thought we would be able to run it earlier a little bit better.
Browning after pick: I think it was 12 straight right after that. That’s kind of how he is. He’s kind of like next play, whether he throws a touchdown or he throws an interception he’s on to the next play. I think that’s kind of a rare and unique quality. I think all quartersbacks would like to have that but I still think it’s rare for most quarterbacks to truly have that. He has it and he’s also a young guy and I that’s one of the reasons we like him.
How’s Budda Baker? “I don’t know. I asked … ‘Where’s Budda?’ They said he’s down. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ They said he’s got an ankle. And that’s all I know. He never came back.”
Browning’s TD pass to Sample “That kind of turned into a little bit of street football. Jake in some ways is like that knuckleball thrower; you’re used to all these dual-threat guys who are fast and elusive, and (Browning) kind of just finds a way to buy time and guys miss him and he gets out of things and throws it up. We had a little play-action — Utah State did a good job, full on run sell (but) the safety stayed back and didn’t bite. Jake kept it alive and gave Drew a chance.”
What’s stood out about this defense through the first three games? “I think they just play hard. I think they’re pretty assignment sound. I think about those guys, again, if we can keep practicing hard — I think in some ways it’s harder to practice very hard on defense during the week (going) a little bit against scout team, a little bit with tackling. Those types of things. So we really have to stay on our toes to make sure we’re challenging those guys to continue to impress.”
Sequence with Brandon Beaver's long interception return and then Utah State’s long fumble return for a TD: “Frustrating. So awesome to see our defense swell up, stuff the run, stuff the run and then we knew they were going to throw it. … It’ll be interesting to go back and look at that tape because we do spend a lot of time educating guys on football intelligence — when to throw a block, when to not block. (Beaver was) out in front of everybody so our guys were just pulling off and they saw Brandon going and maybe we should’ve screened some guys to get him in (the end zone). Anyways, great job by the defense. Unfortunate (fumble); Jeff (Lindquist) is still getting back in the mix and those things happen. We’ll all learn from it and he’ll still be a good weapon for us."
Struggles with run game — was that because of UW’s young line or what Utah State’s defense was doing? “It was probably a combination of both. We’ll have to put the tape on to really see that, but those blitzes, those pressures they can be just as effective in the run game as they can be in the pass game. They get on edges and it’s not clean and the backs have to stop their feet and those types of things.”
What was Jeff Lindquist's role coming into today? “We’ll just keep tweaking and figuring out what we think he can (do). He’s a big, strong, fast guy and he can throw the ball. So he’ll have a unique roll with us. To say exactly what it is — it’s going to change all the time. I don’t really want to say exactly what it is because one day we’ll do this and the next we’ll do that. I think we can be creative with him."
Open playbook more for Jake Browning this week? “I’ll tell you, he’s doing a good job. We’re kind of staying – it’s a little bit like that teacher that’s one step ahead of the student a little bit. We throw a lot at him, and he’s got a lot on his plate, and every now and again, something will show up. But it is amazing. We won’t slow down because of him. And I said that during the week. we slow down because of the group a little bit, ‘is this too much?’ We push that fine line of trying to be creative enough to keep some guys off balance, but not so much that we’re confusing ourselves. We try to get people on the field to play to our strengths at different skill positions, and so we’re running a lot of guys on and shifting and motioning stuff, so there’s a lot of things going on. But these guys, I keep going back to – they keep studying, they keep practicing hard. I think it’ll get easier for them, just in terms of what we’re doing. I don’t think the games are going to get easier. The games are going to get harder. But at least they can know what they’re doing a little bit more.”
Is this even better than you could have hoped from Jake Browning? “I just think we take it one game at a time. I think the competition’s going to continue to increase, and we’ll just see how he does. That’s how I want our whole team to look at it. That’s how I want our staff to look at it. I think he’s doing what we thought he could do, and we’re pleased. I think really pleased with the whole crew up front. I mean, he can be as good as he wants to be, but if he’s running for his life all the time, it’s going to be tough sledding. And like I said, they let him set his feet against a pretty heavy blitz team.”
When was the last time you called a fake field goal? “I don’t know when the last time we called a fake field goal was. Credit goes to two guys on that: Jeff Choate, our special-teams coordinator. He was all over that, he really wanted it bad. I thought we were actually going to be a little too close for it. And then secondly, Tristan. Tristan’s fast. He got a jump on the guys, but when you watch him, he can run. I think your normal kicker might have gotten caught.”
Were you worried Utah State would think it was strange that you sent out a kicker who had never tried a field goal? “He kicked a little bit last game, he does. Tristan, those guys are kind of interchangeable. I think they knew that. He almost tipped his hand a little bit. He was leaning. He was like that racehorse at the gate trying to get out, and I’m thinking ‘aww, man.’ But I think they thought he was maybe just itching to kick the ball.”
Do you think you’ll call more of those? “Well, if I said yes, then they’d probably all be stopped (laughs). We’re always trying to figure out just different ways. Sometimes they work and it’s great, and sometimes it’s like, what was that? You’ve got to live and die with those type of things, so let’s all remember that this one worked, OK?”
Given Dwayne Washington's struggles, do you think a game like there where he still scores twice can boost his confidence? “I think not only Dwayne’s but I hope it’s for everybody’s confidence. I always say, it’s such a game of confidence, and I think we gained a little confidence today because we have a lot of respect for Utah State, think they play hard, well coached. And our guys executed, did some pretty good things against a pretty solid crew.”
Is it fair to say you have more trick plays available now than last year? “I don’t think so. Sometimes we’re not in the right circumstance. Sometimes the defense will get us out, they really will. We had some stuff going in Boise too and we couldn’t stay on the field to get a rhythm. There are certain looks we don’t like that. Sometimes it’s a little bit of luck of the draw, just can’t get ‘em out of the gate. We’re usually going to have something in most games.”
Did Jake’s injury create a domino effect along the offensive line? “Sometimes that does happen. And I think we’re always trying to get the best guys out there. But that’s a little bit touchy because it’s not like these guys have been playing a bunch of positions. Poor Coleman Shelton, he’s the one guy that’s played…right tackle, he’s played left tackle, now left guard. My hat’s off to that kid. He’s a sophomore and he’s played everything. We worked him at center at one time as well. He can do a lot of things. But I think it’s good for all those guys to get their feet wet and we’re going to have more than just five linemen we feel like can help us win.”
You feel ready for conference play now? “I don’t know if you are ever ready. If you have another game for us we’ll probably take it. I think the pre-season was a learning experience, in a good way. That first game on the road was kind of a tough one, no place like home. We get to start the Pac-12 here at home, so that’s really good. But I think there’s been a lot of football learned by a lot of people these three weeks. I keep saying, I’m really anxious to see where we are three weeks from now as well. I think the competition, as we know, probably gets a little bit tighter, a little bit tougher. Sometimes it’s hard to see some growth when that happens. But I just know that if we can continue to practice hard and these guys will stay focused and we can stay relatively healthy, we’ll keep getting better.”