Nebraska vs. UCLA
Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora
"First of all I want to start by saying a very heartfelt thanks to the Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst, Head Coach Bo Pelini, to the Husker Nation, their fans, their students and their players for the compassion they showed us this week. I thought it was an incredible gesture they made here, and I think it kind of shows the class here at Nebraska. The fact that they would put a No. 36 decal on their helmets, and they would have a moment of silence, and their student section cheered us when we took the field and encouraged us on, you just don’t find that at many places. It is just a true testament to the people here at Nebraska and how much they care about football. We are very, very appreciative about that."
"I am so proud of our guys. Those young men went through a tremendous amount of adversity this week and emotions were on a roller coaster the entire week. Matter of fact, they were on a roller coaster through the first half. I felt that the first quarter and a half of the game we were trying so hard - so hard - to try and make something happen good that we were tight. What really happened was in the second quarter there at the end we kind of relaxed and made plays and we kind of found our rhythm again. We came in at halftime, not a lot of adjustments that had to be made, really just an adjustment in our mindset which was to relax, play with confidence, go out and have fun playing the game and let it roll. We tried to pick up the tempo a little bit on offense. We talked about tackling better on defense. We talked about containing the quarterback a little bit better on defense but there was no mystical magical X’s and O's, it was all our players doing what they are supposed to do, and really loving what they do—playing football. It was a heck of a game, that is a really good football team and this a great place to come play."
"One of our themes this year that we need to get better at is having the mental toughness where we can come into a tough environment and we can handle some adversity and still fight back and get back into the game. Today we did that. It is not good enough to do that once, that has to become our identity, that’s gotta become the team that we become. We are working hard toward it. I am really proud of those kids, you can’t believe how tough it was on them, you just can’t, unless you were at practice, in those meeting rooms, in that locker room, you just can't (know). He (Nick Pasquale) had such an impact on our team—for a little guy that only played one snap here at UCLA, those guys loved him and respected the heck out of him. His family came up yesterday and talked with the team in the morning before we went out on the field to practice. They were amazing, and I think they gave our team strength. You don’t ever want to say ‘You won one for somebody’; we didn’t win one for Nick, what we tried to do today is try and go out and play with the type of effort and enthusiasm, energy and passion of the game that would reflect what he meant to us, and so his parents could see it on TV and recognize that we were playing the game like their son played the game. We got a win and we've got to go on from there.”
On the turning point of the game
“I think it was before the half. We got going on offense, we were just tight. We were tight, everyone was so intent on being the guy that made 'that' play, nobody wanted to make a mistake and you can't play football like that. You've got to relax and enjoy it - at least we do, I don't know how other teams play, our team loves to play the game, there is a passion for it. We were squelching that and were letting the emotions get the best of us. We didn't really say anything (at halftime). It wasn't me, it was our players. They recognized it - these are mature young men - they recognized it and said 'let's just relax and do our thing', and we did. I think scoring at the end (of the first half) and then getting them stopped and even trying the 55-yard field goal, even getting ourselves into field goal position to try it, that is how UCLA does it. I think that made them feel good about themselves at halftime."
On Nebraska Junior Wide Receiver Kenny Bell
“He is a good player first of all. He is an excellent kickoff returner, and he is a good receiver. He is long and lean, and he can run and catch with his hands and has a nice catch radius. They caught us in two pressures on the first and the third touchdown passes and the one when they ran a drag route we were in a zone and the guy got inside the linebackers and snuck in. He is a good player, we have a lot of respect for him. We talked a lot about him as a kick returner. He is a much better receiver than I thought we gave him credit for, but we did give him a lot of credit in that area as well."
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
“Obviously it was a disappointing loss. I just told our players that's what I call a team loss right there. We got beat in every phase of the game in the second half. I think we showed a little bit of what we're capable of as a football team in the first half, but in the second half, we got away from fundamentals. It's nothing magical. It wasn't anything that they hadn't done in the first half. Defensively, you can't go out and miss tackles and miss your gaps and play undisciplined. Everyone's got to do their job. For some reason, we didn't show up in the second half. We had a number of opportunities to move the sticks, to take the momentum back, to at least gain some momentum to stop what was going, and we didn't do it. The pendulum started to go the other way, and we needed to make a play. We continuously had opportunities to make plays and didn't make them. I thought special teams-wise, we killed ourselves the whole game. The field position at times hurt us, but at the end of the day, we just didn't execute well enough to win the football game and played a horrendous second half. You could talk about it all day, but that's what it came down to."
On the offense in the second half
“We didn't play very good in the first half, either. We scored on two short fields. We're capable of a lot more offensively. Maybe, on the offensive side, they're reading their press clippings too much. We haven't played close to our potential on that side of the football for three weeks now. That's got to change. We've got to get it fixed and move forward because we're capable of a lot more than what we're doing offensively."
On the defensive strategy
“I think you saw in the first half that it works when it's executed the right way. It's worked over a long time. The second half was a lot like it was last year. We made the tackles in the first half. I don't know how many tackles we missed in that second half, but it is a lot. You can't play good defense that way. We missed tackle after tackle after tackle in that second half. It's disappointing."
On the team's second-half performance
"When things started going the other way on us, we lost a sense of what our job was. Some of the basic things that we were doing through one quarter, two quarters, two and a half quarters, we stopped doing. You have to be able to refocus and keep your composure to do your job and execute your football."
On the team's mentality in the second half
"I get the feeling, at times, that our guys, instead of playing to win, are playing not to lose. That's the wrong way to go about it. I'd like to see our football team just turn it loose and have fun. I don't know."
On the defense's performance
"We didn't play well enough up front, obviously, to be the type of football team that we were capable of being on that side of the ball. We had how many drops in that game? A bunch. Those hurt you. Drops hurt you. There were some missed opportunities. Missed checks, in some situations, hurt us. Obviously, penalties hurt us in this football game. How many times defensively were we off the field on a drive? When you couple that with the missed sack toward the end of the first half. Those are big plays in a football game. In some situations, they [UCLA] made the plays and we didn't. I think two of those personal fouls were on third down."
On his feelings during the second half
"I felt we needed something to get our momentum back. We practiced it. The look was there. It was about numbers. I'll have to look at the film to see how it didn't execute, but we ended up in too short. I was trying to get the momentum back for our team. Like I said, I was playing to win, not to hang in there. I thought it was an opportunity. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
On second-half momentum
"At times, when I looked at our guys on the sideline, I felt like it looked like they'd seen a ghost. Like I said, when that happens, someone has to step up and make a play. We needed to get the momentum turned back the other way and it didn't happen. We were missing tackles. We missed some one-on-one opportunities. We had some plays down the field where it was one-on-one and we didn't make those plays. We just needed to do something at some phase in the game to get the momentum turned back and we couldn't and we didn't. It didn't happen."
On Senior Quarterback Taylor Martinez running the ball less
"Obviously, Tim [Beck] didn't feel that was there or we had opportunities and they took the read away. When that happens, if they try and take the quarterback out of it, you've got to block them up front. You've got to make yards with the running backs. Rushing yards hasn't been our problem. I just feel like we have not been in a rhythm for three straight weeks. It's disappointing. We're gonna sit down and figure it out and get this thing turned around. I know we're capable of a lot more offensively than what we're doing."
On special teams
"We've been playing good special teams until we came into this game. We didn't kick very well. We didn't punt very well. We just didn't execute in that phase of the game and that hurt us. Even in the first half, when we were up 21-3, we were doing it despite our field position. There were a number of reasons for that. We had an opportunity, in my opinion, to put this game away in the first half. Or at least make it to where it would have been very difficult on UCLA. We didn't take advantage of that opportunity. We let them hang around, hang around, hang around and eventually, they got the momentum. We couldn't get a play. They flipped the momentum on us. We couldn't get a play. That didn't happen on our side.
On what he said to the team
"I just told our team they can't worry about what's happening on the outside. We know what we're capable of as a football team. You have to stick together in times like this. I've said it over the first three weeks. My goal, always, is to win every football game. But we have to stay with the process of where we are as a football team and what we have to do to get better. We can't worry about what people are saying outside. It's gonna be negative. By the fans, by the media, by everybody. In times like this, we have to stick together. They only people that can fix it is us and that's a challenge we have. If we worry about what people are saying on the outside, then things are going to go a bad way."