By Liz Alper
Videos courtesy goaztecs.com
For video of the student-athletes' portion of the press conference, click read more and scroll down.
September 10, 2019 (San Diego) - Now 2-0 and heading into battle against New Mexico State this Saturday, head coach Rocky Long, senior quarterback Ryan Agnew and senior cornerback Kyree Woods sat down with the media today.
"...Once again, we are going on the road to play another game in a place I've been many times," began Long. "It's a very difficult place to get to and a very difficult place to play..."
Long talked about the offensive changes between weeks one and two and what allowed the Aztecs to score more points. "I think that the players prepared better and obviously performed better, or more efficient at what they did and did a better job...The players win. The players win games. The coaches can lose games by calling the wrong decision at the wrong time but coaches have never won a football game. Players who play well win football games."
Agnew talked about what he noticed. "We made plays in week two that we didn't make in week one. I thought the coaches did a great job of transitioning us from week one to week two. Getting us most prepared and then the guys going out there with the mentality that that's not the offense we want to be in week one and in week two. We really improved on it and it helped us.
"It was a whole bunch of things, it was everything. Week one we didn't have intensity, we didn't have focus, we didn't win our 1-on-1 matchups. We didn't play well collectively. Week two we improved on everything, but watching the film yesterday we saw there's a lot more room for improvement . Just because we had a big win, doesn't mean we are going to stop there."
Long also talked about what he saw in Agnew. "I guess he felt more comfortable and probably prepared better during the week. He went into the game and things got better early, and he just got better as it went (along)."
Despite how well he played, Long didn't think the UCLA game was a breakout game for Agnew. "...That's one of his best games, but I wouldn't necessarily say it was his best game or a breakout game, because when he was the starting quarterback last year we won a couple of really important games and he played pretty well."
Long did mention one player that he thought had a breakout game. "I think it was a breakout game for Kobe Smith. You know someone asked who I thought the receivers were going to be that came out of training camp and I happened to mention Kobe Smith and guess what? I'm glad when they make you right. But no he had a good game, he got himself open and the best thing he did is when after he caught it he gained extra yards by catching and putting the foot in the ground and going towards the in zone."
One thing the Aztecs haven't been doing is running the ball. Long addressed this. "We've got to get better at running the ball which means we've got to block better at the line of scrimmage. I think we have some quality running backs that haven't really gotten started because we haven't blocked the line of scrimmage as well as we should, especially for the run. Now that adds to maybe we have practiced running the ball as much as we've practiced throwing it and being able to throw the ball has helped win a couple games. At least in the second game we were throwing it and catching it much better than we were any time last year, or any time the year before that or anytime the year before that. Now we spent all of our time running the ball and last year we ran the ball OK but we weren't scoring enough points. That's why we changed the formations in the offense. Maybe our offensive line is just getting used to the difference in the plays we are running even though they're very similar and the attitude is the same. But the offensive line has to block better than they have been the first two weeks."
Woods talked about the difference in preparation between last year and this year. "I think just our preparation during the week. We are a young group, just going in we had to fill the shoes of Damontae Kazee, Malik Smith, Na'im McGee, and all of those guys. I feel like we matured a little bit and think that we work well together."
On the challenges that New Mexico State presents for the defense: "They have great wide receivers, I feel like we have to prepare well for them. They have very good athletes. I think they throw the ball 60 times per game, so we just have to be on our A game on Saturday."
Woods lastly talked about how the UCLA win affects the team. "Hard wins like that bring us all together. It just excites us for the future because we know how good we can get as well as just watching the film over and just seeing how much better we can get. (The wins) are good for the soul, good for the locker room and good for the energy in our practices. It just motivates us to go harder see our potential just go through the roof and just try and get better each week."
The Aztecs take on the Aggies on Saturday at 5 p.m. PT.