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By Liz Alper
Videos courtesy goaztecs.com
For videos of Ryan Pope and Troy Cassidy's portion of the press conference, click "read more" and scroll down.
October 16, 2018 (San Diego) - After barely eeking out a victory over Air Force on Saturday, SDSU football head coach Rocky Long, senior offensive lineman Ryan Pope and junior linebacker Troy Cassidy sat down with the media today.
“We’re looking at another conference game this week and as everybody knows, we think conference games are more important than the non-conference games because we’re trying to get to a position where we might be able to play for a championship," Long opened with. "We’re playing San José State, which has struggled to this point but when you watch all the films, they have some quality athletes that in the six games (have given them) a decent to really, really good chance of winning three of the six. So the record is not necessarily indicative of what kind of football team they are. So we’re going to have to prepare well and we’re going to have to play well to win the game.”
This week's topic was special teams. Long talked about whether or not special teams has impacted the game more now more than 5-10 years ago. “I don’t know about more, but special teams can win or lose you a game for sure. I mean, we’ve won a game this year because we had a real good field goal kicker. We’ve come close to losing a couple of game because we can’t catch a punt. Then last week after a safety, we couldn’t cover a kickoff and the other team (Air Force) got great field position. So special teams are vital to any success or lack of success you have.”
Long gave status updates on runningbacks Chase Jasmin and Juwan Washington. “I think he’s (Jasmin’s) going to play this week. I think he’s in the fourth day of perceived concussion. He has no symptoms or anything, but we have a policy, and I can’t tell you what the policy is, but we have a policy to follow when they think that one of our players has had a concussion. If nothing has changed, he’s going to be cleared to practice full-speed tomorrow.
“Juwan is still on the same time frame. They think he’ll be ready to play in three weeks.”
Quarterback Christian Chapman's future isn't so bright. “I think Christian will go only in a (real) emergency situation. He is practicing, but he’s practicing in a limited role. I mean, he’s not doing anything where somebody could bump into him or someone could tackle him or anything like that. And he’s getting better. But you can tell he’s not moving around like he would normally and until he can protect himself, we’re not going to put him out there.”
Long says that his players “learned that if they keep playing hard and keep trying that there’s always a chance to win" from the Air Force game.
Saturday will be Long's 100th game at SDSU, but he doesn't care. “I don’t look at those kinds of things. I will someday probably, but I don’t look at that stuff. I didn’t even know it was my 100th game until someone told me yesterday. I guess it means I have some longevity, right?”
SJSU is winless, but that doesn't stop Pope from continuing to practice hard. “We take into account that they still have great athletes and that they’re still a good team. A lot of the teams that they have played this year, a lot of the games, were very close. They compete. We’re not taking them lightly. It’s motivation every week to just stay focused and take care of our business.”
Cassidy echoed: “Just from watching a little bit of film on them yesterday, we saw they have a lot of good athletes especially in the receiver positions. One of their guys, number 22, Thai Cottrell, I remember playing him in high school and he was one of the best players I ever played against in high school. They definitely have a lot of athletes and they’re trying to get that first win, so need to stay focused against them.”
Pope says there's no difference between Chapman and Ryan Agnew. “Agnew knows how to extend plays, so it’s helpful. But it’s all the same. They’re both smart. They’re both great quarterbacks, so I wouldn’t trade them for anybody honestly. Those are my guys honestly.”
Pope also talked about his responsibility as a senior. “We spent the most time here, so we have the most time invested. The younger guys do a pretty good job of taking into account that we are the older people and they look up to us. We’re the voice in the locker room so what we say carries over. We make sure to carry ourselves in the right way as seniors.”
SDSU takes on San Jose State Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at SDCCU Stadium.