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 17, 2019 (San Diego) - Aztecs football returns home this Saturday to open Mountain West play against Utah State. Head coach Rocky Long and seniors Ryan Agnew and Myles Cheatum sat down with the media today.
“We’re back at home, ready to play a home game," Long opened with. "Hopefully we can get a lot of people out to watch because it ought to be a really good game. Utah State’s obviously one of the better teams in our league. They have some outstanding players coming back from last year and they had a great year last year. (Jordan Love) is an NFL guy...Their statistics are eye-popping. They’re gaining over 600 yards a game and scoring over 48 points a game. They’re an awful good football team coming in here. We have our work cut out for us.”
More on USU quarterback Jordan Love and how to stop the Aggies' passing attack. “He’s a big, strong guy that can do things with his feet, but he doesn’t usually have to. He’s got great accuracy, but he looks like he throws effortlessly. He just kind of flicks the ball and he completes the ball 50 yards down the field. He’s a very talented young man that played really well last year and has started off playing really well so far this year.
“If you watch them on film and look at the statistics, you’re very concerned. We have to give ourselves a chance to stay in the game. As fast as they score points, you could be out of the game before it even started. Obviously we have to play good enough defense to keep the score at a point that our offense has a chance to outscore them.”
Long updated media on the progress of running back Juwan Washington. “Number one, hopefully Juwan gets well and he can play this week and be near a 100 percent. He’s not right now. He practiced a little bit yesterday but he wasn’t 100 percent..."
Quarterback Ryan Agnew talked about the team's confidence level. “Any time you can enter a game undefeated, going up against a really good opponent and starting conference play, you have the upmost confidence. You can not be in a better position than we are right now. Being able to play your first conference game against a great opponent, great offense, great defense, and bringing them here to San Diego in front of a great crowd, I am really excited for it.”
The Aztecs know the importance of Saturday's game. “We definitely understand the importance of this game. Everyone saw how good Utah State was last year and they brought back a lot of guys this year who have all played well up until this point. Their offense is averaging over 640 yards a game and their defense has some All-American type of players like (David) Woodward and Tipa Galeai. We understand the importance of this game and we understand how good this football team is..."
Cheatum had a different. "...Coach Long told us the other day that at the end of the day it doesn’t make or break our season. It’s just another step on the road to getting to where we want to go, which is winning 22 and at the end of the day that’s all we are really concerned about is getting to the end goal. The process is the process and you have to maintain that. At the end of the day it doesn’t necessarily make our season or necessarily break our season.”
Cheatum talked about the challenges Love poses. “How versatile he is. I think he does a lot of stuff really well and I think he gives their offense a lot of different options, so that creates a lot of different challenges to prepare for that style.”
Cheatum gave his opinion of the team's confidence leve. “I would say extremely confident. We always prepare to win, expect to win, obviously do the best we can and live with the results. But I think as a team right now we’re gelling. I can really only speak for the defense. I think everyone is playing real confident, especially in the back end, those guys are gelling really well. Putting a good product out there on the field.”
The Aztecs take on Utah State on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at SDCCCU Stadium.