Everything Jedd Fisch said after Arizona's Territorial Cup win over Arizona State
For the first time in six years, the Cup is coming home.
Arizona tailback Michael Wiley ran for 214 yards and three touchdowns — the second-best rushing performance in Territorial Cup history — to help Arizona beat Arizona State 38-35 on Friday and end a five-game losing streak in the heated in-state rivalry. After the game, coach Jedd Fisch met with reporters to break things down. Here’s everything he said, with video of the press conference below:
“OK, before you guys write it, I potentially made one of the worst play-calls in Territorial Cup history and I will own that. That first-and-goal on the 2, that is my fault for calling that play and putting Jayden (de Laura) in a tough position.
“After that, I think our offense certainly showed the ability to move up and down the field. And that was fun. Our defense took the ball away five times today, which was awesome. The fact we’re sitting here today after six years having the Territorial Cup in our hands, playing the way we played, we had 51 plays on offense and 480 yards. (Michael Wiley) averaged 17.8 yards a carry, which is just incredible. We had 12 completions for 200 yards, so a bunch of explosive plays. But really, in the end, we felt like we were going to run to win and we were going to get takeaways and that’s what we did.
“I’m so proud of our whole team. Proud of Jayden handling that. When you’re one of the best, if not the best quarterback in the country, and you get told you’re gonna throw the ball 20 times or 23 times in a rivalry game… I thought he handled it masterfully up there, got us all in the right checks, got the run game where we wanted it to go — running it at the shade, running at the 3-technique, whatever we asked for. In the end, credit to our players. Players win.
“It was a great feeling in that locker room. Our players deserved that victory and have earned it from how hard they’ve worked.”
On how the Cup made its way to him
“I was trying to figure it out. I thought we had it all locked in, we had all these protocols in place, but your best-laid plan doesn’t always work out, I guess. It was supposed to come to me, to the captains, to Jalen Harris, and then we were gonna pass it from there. But then all of a sudden it was mayhem, and I didn’t see the Cup until I got in the locker room. Got a picture with my guys with the cup, which was awesome. And then was able to pass the cup around to the whole team.”
On the fans being able to storm the field
“Great. A lot better than last year’s storm. Last year’s storm was nice because we broke a 20-game losing streak, but building the program where we want it to be was a lot better swarm. The goal is to have better storms, though. That crowd today I thought was excellent. I thought we had a really, really good crowd. But let’s sell out next year. Let’s sell out and see what that’s gonna look like. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun. We have our whole offense back, which I’m excited about, and the opportunity to really become really good.”
On RB Michael Wiley breaking so many explosive runs
“Yeah, there was a few times he was cramping up. It was interesting. I said to him (on Thursday), ‘Hey, if we hit this, this could be a 75-yard run. Can you handle that?’ He said, ‘Yeah!’ I wasn’t actually expecting that to happen, but it was a 72-yard run and it was one heck of a run.”
On how they discovered LB Jacob Manu
“First, T-Mac kept talking about him. So every time I talked to T-Mac and Noah (Fifita) and Keyan (Burnett) they kept saying, ‘Hey now, we got a linebacker here, we got a linebacker here.’ So I kind of brought it to our defensive staff and then I went and watched him play. I went to a Servite game and he made like 10 or 11 tackles in that game, he caused a fumble, had an interception. Then I just offered him. I offered him that night, I called him up — because you’re not allowed to talk to him (at the game) — so we called him up and I got on the phone with him I said, ‘Hey, you want to be Wildcat, man?’ I said, ‘I’m trumping our staff on this one. I’m not checking with anyone. I’ve seen you play and we want you to be a Wildcat.’ And it was awesome that he agreed to it. I think it was great for T-Mac and for Noah and Keyan that one of their best friends was joining, and we’re happy to have Jacob Manu.”
On Manu’s play
“He’s relentless. We were talking about it the first couple of weeks of the season when he was on our field for scout team and Jayden would say like, ‘Hey, tell 59 to slow down.’ Like, we’re trying to get looks on our scout team and he’s the scout team defense and just making incredible plays. We ended up sending him down I think Week 2 and then he started against North Dakota State.”
On young defenders making plays
“It was great to see (Isaiah Taylor) get the pick at the end. It was great to see Isaiah Ward make plays. Deuce Lane, Deuce Davis, I think Deuce Davis had a great play in the game. It all runs together because there’s so many young players. Ta’ita’i (Uiagalelei), (Jacob) Kongaika, (Ephesians) Prysock, Tacario (Davis), I mean, those are all true freshmen. And then you have the redshirt freshmen, which is IT and Dalton (Johnson). It feels to me like there’s just a lot of freshmen, true freshmen or redshirt freshmen running around the field.”
On the back-and-forth nature of the game
“At halftime, we were down 14-10 and I said, ‘If we score on every possession, they’re not going to stop us. They’re not going to beat us.’ And we went down there and we scored the first possession to go up 17-14, and then it was a back-and-forth game. I think we had one possession that we didn’t score on, but other than that, I felt like we had this mentality that it was gonna be a scoring fest. It’s kind of what it was beginning to look like in that second half and we felt like it was our responsibility on offense to get in the end zone. And on defense it was to take the ball away. That was the challenge at halftime and the players certainly accepted that.”
On what it means for the program to go 5-7 and finish with a win over ASU
“What it comes down to is that we really felt as if, when we got here, we were going to have to start at where it was — coming off of the game that it was in 2020 — and build it from the ground up. Build it with players first and culture. We felt that it was going to take time. We didn’t know exactly where we were last year when we got here. We didn’t know exactly what the season was going to look like. The season ended and we felt like going to the offseason we had a chance to do some really special things. We brought some really good players in here and the players that stayed were committed to getting better.
“This season has been a good season, in terms of we’ve competed really well in a lot of games. We all have regrets, we all wish we won more games, but in this case, right now, the build is still the build. The build isn’t changing. We’re still trying to get better. We want to get better. We want to bring in more players, better players, and keep building off of what we did. Jayden is gonna get better. T-Mac’s gonna get better. Dorian (Singer) is gonna get better. Jonah (Coleman) is gonna get better. Defensively, we have all these young guys, they’re all just gonna get better and if we continue to get better, then the build should never end. It’s an infinite game, and that’s what we tell our team, that it is an infinite game and all we want to do is just continue to see how good we can be.”