Fresno State Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Jeff Tedford
“Eno Benjamin is an explosive and physical running back. He was breaking tackles in the first half. I think he tackled better in the second half, and we were able to limit his explosive plays. In the first half he was 11-12-yard chunks and controlling the time of possession. We only had the ball four times in the first half, they did a nice job with controlling the ball.”
“We played as a team. It was really unlike us to have three turnovers. One of the turnovers cost us three points. To turn the ball over three times in the second half and still do enough to win the game, that typically doesn’t happen. Our team knows that the team that wins the turnover battle has the best chance to win the game. For us to turn the ball over, have the defense be able to hold, to get the ball in the end zone, that was key. I think it says a lot about our team. They don’t panic and they keep playing. Everyone picked Marcus (McMaryion) up and supported him. Everyone picked Dejonte (Oneal) up and supported him. There was a lot of support and togetherness.”
“It’s a good feeling. It’s for the players. The memories that they are going to take away from this are going to last them a lifetime. They’re going to have reunions for many years to come. Last night in our team meeting we talked about the bond they’re going to have for the rest of their lives. They can say they did something that no one else has done. It didn’t come easy, they overcame a lot through their time here, especially the seniors. I’m just really proud of them. I’ve asked them how history is going to record this team. They can put a stamp on it with 12 wins, that’s how history is going to record this team.”
“We didn’t know how Ronnie (Rivers) was going to recover. We were really patient with it and did it the right way. We didn’t rush him back. He’s a tough kid. Obviously he created a spark for us tonight. He got tough yards inside, he stayed patient. The offensive line did a great job of staying on the guys, and making seams for him. That’s not an easy defense to run the ball against. To have Ronnie come back and be a big part of what we do, obviously we think a lot of him. He’s not only a great player, he’s a great young man.”
“I hope it does a lot. That’s been our goal the entire time, to rebuild and bring the Red Wave back. When I got to Fresno State, Bulldog Stadium was empty at games. That was not something I was used to seeing. That wasn’t the pride and tradition that I was used to. I’m really thankful for the fans who came today. To look up in the stands after the game and see the whole side was filled with red that was a great feeling. I think the people of the Valley and the Red Wave take a lot of pride in the football program at Fresno State. I’m thankful and happy that we were able to provide good time and good memories for them.”
“As a group that persevered. I think has been a life lesson about perseverance. They went through a hard time two seasons ago. To be able to continue to believe and work your way through that, life is like that. They can be remembered as the only team in NCAA history to go from double-digit losses to back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins. They have accomplished a lot, and they should be very proud of that. This doesn’t happen by talking about it, there’s a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into it. The first year, they got 10 wins as the underdogs. This year they got 12 wins with a target on their chest, and that says even more about it.”
Arizona State Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Herm Edwards
“I told the team after the game that I’m thankful for these guys in entrusting me to be their head coach and following my lead along as the rest of the coaching staff. These guys, Manny (Wilkins) and the seniors, I can’t thank them enough for setting the foundation of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish going forward. I told them after the game that we just ran out of time. We didn’t lose the game; we actually just ran out of time in this one. And that happens sometimes in football. But the effort of these guys from the beginning when I took this job and what we’re trying to build here is a credit to both these guys sitting to my right (Manny Wilkins) and to my left (Eno Benjamin), obviously. We lost to a good football team. We knew these guys were a good football team. We had some opportunities and they didn’t allow us to take advantage of those opportunities. There’s a reason these guys won 12 games. They’re well coached. They made the plays down the stretch when they needed to. We’ll grow from this as a football team. I can’t thank these guys enough; especially, these two guys (Wilkins and Benjamin) and wide receiver No. 1 N’Keal Harry, as well, he’s part of our offense and he was here today.
If there was a pivotal moment that changed the course of the game:“There was a couple. We took the two turnovers away; the one fumble out of the end zone helped us, but the other two we only scored three points. You know you’ve got to score points especially when you get the ball where we possessed it. These guys got a great defense; we said that coming in. They played very well in the red zone. They did some things and got us in some bad downs. Early in the football game, we had established the run very well. We had time of possession. We made it a game we wanted to play in. We made it uncomfortable for them. But then, they got a score, they got ahead. We had to catch up a little bit and that’s where they can really come after you. They got a very good group of guys. We let a big run hit us; the big run hurt us. We just missed a gap and the guy (Ronnie Rivers) hit it and he hit a home run.
On whether the team had the feeling of ‘we’ve been there before’ when trailing in the game:
On whether the team had the feeling of ‘we’ve been there before’ when trailing in the game:
“We’re comfortable. The tighter the game got we said we’d get it in the fourth quarter. If we can just be within a score or a lead, we’d have a chance to win. They made a couple big plays. The quarterback (Marcus McMaryion) made a big play on the draw. The run play hurt us and that’s what got us. They got some momentum and we couldn’t get our momentum back.”
On what he learned about his team playing without N’Keal Harry:“That it’s a passionate football team. We were down a lot of guys, but that’s football. When guys go out the next guy’s got to step up and play. We were in the game because of our ability to run the football. This man sitting to my left (Eno Benjamin), guess he broke a record today. It’s too bad it came on a loss, but his effort all season said something about the direction that we’re heading and it’s good that he’s coming back. We accomplished some things this year. We lost a lot of tight football games. This one got away from us. The games we had lost had been by one score. We were trying as hard as we could get it back in position where we could make a run; we just ran out of time as I said.”
On WR Brandon Aiyuk’s play:
“He did a nice job, yes he did. We’re going to rely on him next year. There’s some other young ones, Porter and some guys like that; so, when you lose a guy like N’Keal, he can tilt the field for you when he lines up. When he’s not in there, I thought the young guys stepped up and played well.
On whether going 3 and out after Fresno State’s fumble in the third quarter resulted in a touchback was a turning point:
“Yeah, but here again, I think the turning point for me was the two turnovers that we took away. We scored three. You got to get more points than that against a good team like this. We had some pretty good field position. Give them credit, they’ve got a pretty good defense, by the way. They did a nice job. We got behind the chains. We got behind the chains on third down. In the first half, we stayed in front of the chains and converted a lot of third downs. We had time of possession. Ran the ball. We had more possession time than them. We had more plays than them. The second half, they flipped the script on us a little bit.
On what Eno Benjamin means to the team:
“Well, his effort, his second effort, his ability every week to focus in on what he needs to do, the extra time he spends in the building; a guy like Eno in pro football we call a pros pro. He’s constantly in the office learning. He sits with the offensive line. All those things are a credit to his work ethic. You work as hard as he does, his effort shows up on the field and obviously that how he broke the record.”
On what adjustments Fresno State made in the second half:
“Put an extra guy in the box for the most part. Just made some good plays. They adjusted, but here again, I think we missed some opportunities. I don’t want to take anything away from them, but they’re a good football team. Look, they won 12 games. They’ve won 20-something games in two years. They’re a good football team.”
Quarterback Manny Wilkins
On the hit to the knee late in the fourth quarter:
“I’m all right. The doctor said that all of a sudden my knee checked out. So, we’ll go back and figure it out, but I can walk and everything. So, it’s all good.”
On his thoughts walking on the field for the final time as a collegiate QB:
“I’m good. I left it all out there. That’s all I needed to do.”
On his performance the drives following the interception:
“I don’t think interceptions ever effect my play. I’m a veteran in this league. I thought we came out that next drive went right down and scored. I forget about those, I’ve got next play mentality and it’s just all about trying to help all of those guys have the same type of thought process.”
Running Back Eno Benjamin
On what it means setting the ASU single-season rushing record in the loss:
“It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.”
On when he can reflect on what he did this season and how quickly do you turn the page on the season:
“I don’t know. I have a long time to think about that. Right now, I’m disappointed. Disappointed.”
On if there was a point that ASU said ‘we can play with these guys’:“There was no point where we said that, we knew it from the jump. Our offensive line has a will to destroy anything that steps in front of them. It was already known from the jump that we were going to do what we could do to get those yards and stuff like that.”
MVP RUNNING BACK RONNIE RIVERS
What were you able to do better to get the running game going in the second half?
“We made some halftime adjustments, and my O-line, they did a great job creating seams for me and also the receivers with their perimeter blocks. They did an outstanding job in being able to hold the second-level guys and I just had to go out there and run.”
When you had that 68-yarder, did you feel that was the game?
“I wouldn’t say game right there because Arizona State played a great game. Our defense played a great game as well and I’m just happy we were able to get the win.”
To piggyback off the 68-yarder question, how much of an emotional lift was it because the three previous drives were turnovers?
“It created a big momentum swing for us and I couldn’t have done anything without my O-line creating that seam for me. I just had to run through an arm tackle and use my speed to get to the end zone.”
When asked on the field about coach Tedford, you said he always knows how to motivate us, what was the message today?
“We’ve been emphasizing on the word finish this past week, and just going out there and finishing the job, getting the 12th win, but taking it day for day. He always knows exactly what to say to get us fired up.”
What do you feel like you’ve done better the last five, six games in taking over the lead back role?
“Just persevering and keeping my body fresh and improving on the run game. My O-line has done an outstanding job these past however many games, just really working hard and making sure I had space to run.”
What do you feel the trajectory of this program is moving forward?
“Just going into the offseason, and taking it day by day and just getting better every day.”
QUARTERBACK MARCUS MCMARYION
What are your emotions right now?
“I’m excited. A lot of guys were emotional, a lot of our last game. There’s a ton of seniors on this team. Just the fact we were able to finish our college careers with a win just really means the world to us.”
Defense really shut them down in the second half, what can you say about their effort?
“They’ve been doing it all year. When offense is clicking, defense always seem to be clicking. We know that our defense is always gonna keep us in it. It’s definitely an advantage to have a defense like that and find your rhythm as an offense.”
“The scrambling one was kind of a dumb one, I shouldn’t have done that, it’s not like me to do that, just throw the ball up. But you have the other pick, there’s some communication errors on routes, and how we ran them and timing. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s kind of not like myself but I just kind of pulled the offense together after that and said ‘keep having faith in me, I promise I’m gonna do what I can, whether it’s with my legs or my arm, the offense is gonna get clicking again.”
On 12 wins, how much pride do you take?
“A ton of pride. I think the biggest thing, it’s kind of hard to think we did it 12 times this year because we were so focused every week. It’s cliche, but we literally were just locked in and treating every game like our Super Bowl.”
LINEBACKER GEORGE HELMUTH
On Eno Benjamin
“He’s hard to take down. He’s not only physical, but he’s also extremely elusive. He has amazing jump cuts, but James Bailey and Jeff Allison are studs, so being able to play with those guys made it easy.”
What are you feeling right now?
“I don’t know if this is my last one ever, but I’m just really happy to go out, best team in Fresno history, they can’t take that away from us after being a part of the worst team in Fresno history a couple years ago. So just extremely thankful and grateful.”
How did relationship with Tedford establish?
“I’d say right away. When you go 1-11, your coach gets fired and it kind of creates a vacuum and you’re kind of looking for someone to teach you to win. Coach Tedford came in with a plan and he taught us how to win and it was an immediate buy in. You know who he is, he’s obviously a great coach in the past, coming in here it was just full buy-in.”
Has it hit you yet that was your last game as a Bulldog?
“It hasn’t hit me yet. Everyone wants to take pictures, it’s kind of hectic out there so I’m sure once I’m alone it’ll hit me.”
What’s the best memory you had of this team?
“Sharing the field with that guy (Jeff Allison) and No. 7 (James Bailey) the past two years, the locker room, all the work we’ve put in. We spent so much time together and that’s the thing I’m gonna miss I think the most. We spent so much time together so once they’re not there, all my teammates, it’s gonna be a difficult adjustment.”
On his career
“It’s been a long, long journey. A lot of work. I didn’t do it myself, I had a lot of great teammates, guys who put confidence in me and reassured me when I got on myself and just extremely grateful.”
LINEBACKER JEFF ALLISON
What adjustments did you make at halftime?
“I wouldn’t say we made any adjustments. We just got our focus back to where it neederd to be. We had to make sure that we had to dominate our keys that we started off the game with, that’s it, I don’t think we made any adjustments.”
Who was better, Boise’s Alex Mattison or ASU’s Eno Benjamin?
“They are both great backs. You can’t take anything away from any one of them. Mattison was more of the downhill, powerful one. This back here, Benjamin, he was more elusive. He can come downhill too. But if you want to go overall, I could say Benjamin. At the end of the day they’re both great backs.”
How much do you thrive off of going against running backs like that?
“We look forward to that because that’s our test. That’s to see if we’ve been practicing what we’ve been practicing and we go out there and execute and do our job. Every week, that’s our class, taking down notes, and then when it comes game day against them guys that’s our test. You’re gonne ace it or you gonna fail it. So we try to ace it.”
On the last two years
“Great, long journey. I could say that we are grateful for it. I feel like we needed to go through that 1-11 season to get where we are now. We’re also thankful for each other and the way the Red Wave treats us and the coaching staff that came in. We’re just thankful for this whole program.”
Fresno is now known as a defensive stout team, how nice is that?
“That’s great. We work so hard every day in practice. Coaches don’t give us any breaks, they keep their feet on our necks to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to and we try to do the same thing with each other. Those guys in there really deserve it, they really do.”