UCLA vs. Arizona State
ASU 38, UCLA 33 – November 23, 2013
UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora
"We got ourselves into a hole in the first half and were not able to recover. They fought tooth and nail for that thing, and it was just a little too much to overcome. The loss is bitterly disappointing. You don't ever want them to become acceptable. It is cliché after a loss to talk about how proud you are of your team, but this is no cliché when I sit here and tell you how proud I am of those guys. When you think of their year and what they've been through and what they've overcome, starting with the loss of a teammate, and battling the way that they have … there's something growing around here that's going to be special. It's not there yet, but it's growing. I'm proud of them. I'm honored to be their coach. I'm lucky to be the coach of UCLA, I'm excited about the future of this program. We came up short tonight, but the fight we exhibited that's what we're going to grow from, that's what we're going to build off. That's what I believe. That's what we're going to emphasize. It's a bitterly disappointed locker room. We had high expectations. We were trying to get a shot at that title again, but we came up short. There's no getting around it, it's very disappointing. But we're going to recover, we're going to rebound and we're going to continue to grow from it like we have from everything we've been through this year. We're going to get stronger from it. And this program going to get stronger from it. We're disappointed but we've got to get over it, and we've going to get onto the next one, which is next Saturday, a big one here in Los Angeles."
On the decision to have Myles Jack full-time as a RB this week
"We were going to play a lot of nickel in this game, which we ended up doing. When you try to determine his value playing nickel linebacker compared to having Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt vs. Myles and Jordan or Myles and EK and one of those guys on the bench, it made sense to get our best players on the field as much as we could. We decided last Saturday to have Myles move to running back this game. We're hurt at running back. We did not play Malcolm Jones. We played Paul (Perkins), and Paul played well. Jordon (James) is still coming off the ankle (injury). We felt like we needed him, and he went in and did a good job. But it's not permanent. We recruited Myles to be a linebacker, Myles' heart is at linebacker, he wants to be a linebacker, but Myles will do anything for the team."
On the first half deficit
"We struggled containing the quarterback. (At halftime) He had 14 carries for 90 yards. He kept drives alive, he frustrated us, we couldn't find the ball. We got caught out of position on some things. That's what was frustrating to me - not being able to handle the quarterback defensively."
On the possibility of bringing Myles Jack back on defense in the second half
"I told the defensive coaches at the half to be prepared to maybe use him, but we weren't ready to abandon the run game. He hadn't worked on defense all week. It would've been unfair to put him in. Myles not playing defense was not the problem today. That wasn't the problem."
On the final drive
"I just want to give them credit. Their defensive front is special. Will Sutton is a big-time player. It's not often after the game I'll seek someone out, but their quarterback and Will Sutton, I wanted to shake their hands. I have a lot of respect for those guys. When we lost Simon (Goines), and we had to move X (Xavier Su'a-Filo) back to tackle and bring Scotty (Scott Quessenberry) in there, we knew Scotty would fight him tooth and nail and chew on his ankles all day. But the fact of the matter is he's an 18-year old freshman that weighs 270 pounds playing against a 22-year old man who weighs about 330 who is probably one of the 3 or 4 top defensive players in country. That's a tall order, and Scotty fought tooth and nail but we just came up short there."
On the team's fight in the second half
"These guys, they just fought back. We were in it, we had shots. We kick a field goal, we're down two, we kick off, we stop, we've got another shot. It's just those are the what-ifs and the could've beens, and they don't matter; we just have to get better from it. And we will."
Arizona State Head Coach Todd Graham
“Let me start off by saying that I’ve been doing this for 28 years and it’s the most impressive display of heart by a football team that I’ve ever seen. I’m just so proud of these guys. I’ve told you guys many times that Shawn Griswold is the finest strength coach in the country. What you witnessed tonight is training. We’re not done too. Obviously we have two more steps to be where we want to be and that’s Pac-12 champions. I’m just really proud of our players and really proud of our staff. They faced a lot of adversity tonight. The guys could hardly stand up at the end of the game. A lot of bad things in the special teams, but who cares; we found a way to win. One of the things I was most proud of was looking down in that end zone and when things were tough to hear those fans chanting. That was awesome and it’s what college football is all about. I’m very, very grateful for all of Sun Devil nation that was here today. Everything didn’t go as planned and you have to give UCLA a lot of credit. They’re a very good football team. But to come on the road and win this today is a big, big deal for our program. To clinch the Pac-12 South Championship, makes it really gratifying to walk into that room and look those seniors in the eye. These guys are winners and I’m really proud of them.”
On his emotion during the postgame
“I’ve cried twice and you all know I’m not much of a crier. I had tears coming down my face because it’s not just about winning the Pac-12 South Championship. We set out to win the Pac-12 Championship and this is an essential part. To watch these kids on that field lay it on the line with that kind of heart was overwhelming to me. I just love these kids and am really proud of them. To sit back and watch those kids go from where we were to where we are now, it’s been just so gratifying. I’m very lucky to be here and I can think back to a year and a half ago when I came here and how I got my head kicked in, and I’m pretty glad I came.”
On putting pressure on Brett Hundley
“Hundley is a very, very unique quarterback in that he’s very difficult to take down in the pocket and he made some phenomenal plays. He’s a spectacular player and an unbelievable quarterback and our guys sacked him nine times. Last year we had some regrets in the last minute of that game and we talked as a team about those regrets. We had some regrets last year that we defended instead of attacked, so we sent it every play on that last drive and even on the last play because we come to win. Obviously you have to give credit to Hundley and his crew because they battled like champions and we knew that we were going to have to take it from them if we wanted to win, and we did.”
On the offense’s big first half
“Coach Norvell did a great job of preparing our guys and in the second half we just didn’t have the ball a lot. They had the ball for long, extended drives and what killed us today were the special teams. We faced a lot of adversity, but our offensive performance was tremendous. We’ve got a winner in Taylor Kelly, a warrior in Marion Grice and I’m really proud of the offensive line and how they played. Zane Gonzalez, an 18-year old freshman, just walks out there and knocks it through there and that was the difference in the game.”
On the team’s composure
“We talked about staying composed and if you see us down there we’re pretty intense and that’s the way we operate. But are we composed and poised? You’re darn right we are. Tough people come out of tough times and we were a tough football team tonight. I can’t tell you how fun of a team they are to coach and I’m really looking forward to packing that stadium next week and defending that Territorial Cup.”
On potentially hosting the Pac-12 Championship Game
“We talked about that at the very beginning of the year and we’d sit down in the team room and I’d have them close their eyes and visualize. We visualized what it would be like to walk out of Sun Devil Stadium hosting the Pac-12 Championship. Obviously, the most important game of the year is next week though. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done up to this point. We lose this one, it’s an unsuccessful season.”