UCLA COACH Karl Dorrell
COACH Karl Dorrell: I guess you could say it was an entertaining game. I'd like to thank Notre Dame for this experience, coming here and playing. Fans were great.
I felt our team played hard. It battled throughout the game. I think Coach Weis and Notre Dame is a very classy program, and it was a pretty exciting game.
Unfortunately for us, we had a chance to win it, we were there all the way to the final minute and didn't find a way to finish, that's what it comes down to. Didn't find a way to finish. We had opportunity to do so on almost every phase, offensively we could have, got our first down. We could have finished the game by exhausting Notre Dame's time outs. We didn't do that. We did exhaust time outs but didn't finish it from that side. Our defense could not hold them with a minute and two left with no timeouts.
I think the experience, Brady Quinn, obviously, is a very talented quarterback and made the critical plays at critical times. I think that's the difference in the game. They had some experience at that standpoint and did the nice job of finishing the final minute two seconds.
Disappointing, I've never lost a game like this in this fashion before. I'm proud of how our kids played, played hard. That's really all I can take from it. So, we've got to move on, play Washington State next week at home, and get ourselves back in the win column. Any questions, please.
Q. What's the thinking behind taking the delay in the game on last punt instead of trying to snap with a couple of seconds left on the play clock?
COACH Karl Dorrell: The first punt before the penalty the clock was moving, ran third down, tried to exhaust as much time as we could. We wanted to take the delay. Didn't matter for us. Then we kicked and punted. They had a holding call and we had to re punt again. The clock did not start again with that penalty. So we had to re kick. So it ended up, we kicked it out of the end zone for a touch back; they had it on the 20 with a minute two. I did notice, and the clock is supposed to start on the snap again with transition, change the possession. This clock did not start. I did notice that. I don't know if those are factors in the game. Obviously it didn't turn out in our favour, and we have to keep learning from this and moving forward.
Q. Can you talk about the play with Hickman today and what you saw out of him going into Brady?
COACH Karl Dorrell: Those guys played hard. Hickman did a great job trying to put pressure on him. They have a big offensive line. They did for the most part a good job pass protecting for him. Bruce Davis also had a chance to make some plays in the backfield. Both those guys played hard. Our whole defensive line played hard. Everybody played hard. We played smart at times. There are those mistakes here and there that every football team has but for the most part we played hard and Hickman was one of the many guys on that side of the ball that did play hard as well.
Q. On offense, can you talk about your offensive line, how you think they played?
COACH Karl Dorrell: We had some struggles early. It was tough for us to one football especially and protection was also tough in that circumstance as well. But we did make some plays in the passing game, was very encouraged by that. Receivers came up and made some big plays, Williams, his first catch goes for a touchdown. Those things are very strong positives for us to take from this game. We could have played better obviously. Could have played better, and we'll keep pushing and grinding to play better. And you know, that's where we're at right now, we're getting better slowly, not quite at the pace I'd like, but it is making some progress. Behind me there pretty much with his voice, played throughout the game, and he'll continue to grow and mature as we continue to move forward with him.
Q. Can you tell me what you saw on the game winning touchdown, did you think you guys could have made a play on that?
COACH Karl Dorrell: Yeah, great protection. He moved around the pocket, slushed out of the pocket and found an open receiver that was coming across. He made a couple guys miss, and great effort by him getting in the end zone. Made two or three guys miss on the tackles. He found the end zone. It was what you know, you hope all of your great players in any program would do is to finish a game like that when they need a touchdown to win the football game, and here is a guy that wants the ball in his hand and wants to score for his team and he was the one that did it.
Q. Notre Dame seemed to struggle with your pressure most of the day. What was different about the last drive, was he just getting rid of it a lot faster on those three passes?
COACH Karl Dorrell: Our pressure, we didn't blitz as much towards that last drive. We tried to play more on coverage. They did a nice job of connecting and hitting some passes and getting out of bounds, saving some clock time. And then Brady did a nice job staying alive, staying alive in the pocket and moving out of the pocket. Hick had two pick out passes in that drive that were big plays on the right hand side of the field. They did a nice job of execution.
Q. Your run defense did a nice job rebounding from last week, can you talk about that, and also, Notre Dame's run defense today?
COACH Karl Dorrell: Our defense played well for the most part. We did try to stop the run, and we were able to do that pretty well. Notre Dame was just as effective against us in the run game. So I thought really both teams played hard, played hard and battled. It was a good defensive effort on both sides. We made a few mistakes in the first in the second half, you know, we had a three and out and we had a fumble snap. Those are things that fortunately for us, they didn't amount to points, but still in this type of game, those can be critical errors, but I think our guys played hard, and I think their guys played hard.
Q. When you look at the last couple of minutes, last three minutes, is there anything you would have done differently, or is it just a matter of Notre Dame players making plays?
COACH Karl Dorrell: We would have loved to have finished the game on offense. No question about that. We had 2:20 I believe was on the clock, they had three time outs, I'm not exact, but we had to exhaust all their time outs but we didn't finish with the first down. We needed one first down to finish the game and we didn't do that. Then our defense was in pretty good position, with 80 yards to drive, they needed more than a field goal to beat us, no time outs and they did a nice job of execution on that part. I do take my hat off to what Notre Dame was able to do in this type of scenario, and they have done it before. And then we'll grow from this. We'll have to learn from this and build from the positives of what happened in this game and move forward. We have got five games left with a lot to play in the Pac 10. And this gives you a bad taste in your mouth, but you know what, life's tough sometimes. You've just got to fight through it, keep battling, and sometimes you keep grinding, good things happen at some point.
Q. What did you tell them after the game and what did you see in the locker room when you got in there?
COACH Karl Dorrell: Disappointment. Much like what I'm looking like right now. You know, we're disappointed. Those guys, they fought. They put everything out there for us. They wanted to do something special on the road. They are disappointed. They know that they had to win on their grass and didn't finish.
UCLA Player Quotes
Senior DE Justin Hickman
On Notre Dame's last drive ...
"We didn't get enough pressure on the quarterback and we were getting pressure on him all day. He had too much time to sit back there and find his receivers. We had the game won and didn't finish. They went 80 yards in three plays, there's nothing else to say."
Sophomore QB Patrick Cowan
Overall comments ...
"The game is 60 minutes and it doesn't matter how we played before that. There are no words to describe how I feel except that I could have played a whole lot better.
Junior TB Chris Markey
Overall comments ...
"We played a great football game but we just didn't finish. There are a lot of coulda, shoulda, woulda's but the point is we didn't finish. The game is 60 minutes long and we played for just over 59 minutes and that's not good enough. This was a great opportunity for us but we just didn't finish."
On UCLA's offensive effort ...
"We had to execute better. There were too many three-and-outs for us today and we put the defense on the field more than they should have."
Junior CB Rodney Van
Overall comments ...
"They (Notre Dame's offense) played hard all day today and fought through their problems and give them credit for that. We have to learn to do the same thing because we had a chance to put the nail in the coffin but we just didn't do it."
"We were getting pressure all day with all defense. So on the last drive we played Cover Two and we made Brady Quinn out to be the Heisman quarterback he is supposed to be and he showed that he was a great quarterback. He made the plays that he needed to make."
NOTRE DAME COACH Charlie Weis
COACH Charlie Weis:
COACH Charlie Weis:Before you ask questions, as happy as we are in our locker room, disheartened UCLA is in their locker roomy think it's only right before I start answering questions to commend UCLA. I mean, that was a heck of a game and we were very fortunate to win.
A lot of things had to go right at the end of the game for us to win that game, but I know as the offensive play caller, they took it to us pretty good with their defense and we were fortunate to make a few plays at the end of the game. I think our offense I think our defense, you know, played pretty stout against them as well. This 20 17 score is very indicative of a defensive struggle, which it was. I think that you have to commend UCLA and how they played, because they deserve it, before I start answering questions. And, fire away.
Q. I believe you are now 5 1 in games decided by seven points or less. What factors can you attribute to that?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, a lot of things had to go right at the end of the game. I think that, you know, we got stopped on the fourth and one, and then the one time when they had to, they came up and made a play. But I think that all of the circumstances that took place from that play to the game ended, okay, were players prepared to win. We called a time out before first down, which is that new rule now and if you don't do that, you lose the game right then.
So you call time out to stop the clock before they run 25 seconds down. Every second was precious at this time. And then, you know, our defense stops them on the first couple of plays, time out, time out. We knew on third down that the right thing for them to do would be to run again. So, we loaded it up, and we had no time outs. The guys popped up, we got off the ground, we went through that whole deal at the end, got the ball back, the offense goes right to the line of scrimmage, so we don't waste any time so that we were prepared and went out there.
What it really came down to was players making plays. Quarterback and their receivers made some plays at the end of the game and made one miss, got in the end zone and we were really fortunate to win. But I think that the players showed that they were prepared at the end of the game to handle end of game situations.
Q. At the end of the first half, can you describe what happened there, did Brady audible?
COACH Charlie Weis: Yes, he did. I was in no hurry. Because I had two time outs left, so I was going to wait even another couple more seconds before I called the one with 16 seconds to go. And that was a run that was a run pass check that based off of the fact that in hindsight, it looks like they are bringing in a real linebacker and it was a blitz. Then we would have gone ahead and thrown the ball. But he thought that you know, he thought that even after he made the check to go ahead and lay the ball up, he thought that he could have walked it in there, and obviously he was wrong.
But because we had already gone over the fact that we had a time out left and if anything happened, okay, just make sure we come out of here with three. We just we just didn't make a play there and had to settle for three.
Q. If you could take me through your mindset on that final drive, what's kind of going through your head at that point.
COACH Charlie Weis: Well it was important to me first of all to figure out whether or not the ball is going to be in the middle of the field, the left half the right half. They had been getting some decent pressure on us, they had some decent protections the ball was going to be one place versus the other place. Fortunately the first two calls we called, even though Brady was under some duress, the first couple of calls we had were the calls that I kind of drew up on the sideline before we got the ball sack, so it just happened the way you diagramed it. Jeff got out of bounds on the first one, I think it was the first one. He got out of bounds so the clock was stopped. Fortunately the two or three plays I gave them were actually as they occurred. So this way the players could have had a little kind of a head start to realize what was going to end up happening and then still came down to having Jeff having to make or miss and Brady had to roll a little bit. But I put in a couple of design rolls there to get away from pressure to make sure we couldn't take a sack because the game would be over.
Q. How much do you practice those type of situations?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, it goes back, and in your case and a lot of the guys that are around here all the time, know that we start that in training camp and we practice those situations. But we always are talking about time management. We talk about time management every week. We don't practice necessarily that specific situation, but each week we create a couple of new ones. I can't say that that specific one was practiced this week, but we've practiced it, you know, more than multiple times.
Q. How often did you maybe tell Morton to move over to try to help?
COACH Charlie Weis: It wasn't just Morton coming over. We had the tight end coming over, the back coming over. We had a couple things. But what ends up happening, it all comes down to how much exposure you want to have, how much protection you have versus how much exposure, because that's what really messes up flare control.
Q. Not to take any away from UCLA's defense under any circumstances, but did you feel possibly with the bye week you came out a little lethargic?
COACH Charlie Weis: What I just told the team. I'll answer honestly like I always do. I felt that the offense came out lethargic. I didn't think the defense did. So sometimes as the head coach, who is also the offensive play caller, want to come in and say to the team, we came out flat, but I don't think that was the case on defense at all. I think the defense gave up a couple big plays for touchdowns and one pass interference, but most of the day the defense was pretty he stout. You could sit there and say we were flat, but then you sit there and say UCLA is not taking it to you; so you're in a Catch 22 there. I would say they definitely were getting the best of us.
Q. Half of division one has not converted four fourth downs, talk about what you were trying to do. Were you trying to send your team a message, their defense a message, or is it just circumstance of the game?
COACH Charlie Weis: Sometimes you get right on the fringe, right on the fringe where you sit there and you tell your team, hey, fellas, we can go ahead and make this play. But once in awhile, once too often there, you almost end up losing the game. But, what are you going to do now? It's fourth and one. It's the end of the game. You're going to punt right down and hold them down there? Maybe you could do that and maybe you could take that chance, but we were in plus territory. I just think that our guys I'm trying to tell both our offense and our defense that when I call that, you get a cover for my mistakes. But more often than not, we've done a fairly good job of converting, so there have not been too many times, but the one big one, the defense comes up big and holds them, because one first down, the game is over. So the defense comes up big and gets us the ball back and gives us the chance to win.
Q. A lot of times you're thinking about big picture and whether the team is improving; did they improve or survive today; is this how do you look at today?
COACH Charlie Weis: Here is the thing. Good teams win games like that. Good teams at the end of the game somehow, good teams make a play at the end of the game to win. Let me tell you something. I'm not going to feel miserable about this win, I promise you. You want to be miserable, fine. I'm going to be happy. Any time you win a game like that we're very fortunate to walk out of there with scoring a game scoring a touchdown inside of 30 seconds to go with no time out left. Sign me up, you want to give me a couple more of those, I'll take them.
Q. Could you talk about the play of Carlson today and the way he played his first calf?
COACH Charlie Weis: What he did, he was catching the ball, not only was he making a couple big catches but they all seemed to be in traffic. You know it's one thing when the tight end is running wide down the mid of the field and he makes a play, but that's not what they were today, even the first one, that fourth and one where we were expecting on a play action, he makes an adjustment, we are expecting on the play action the way their safeties are so stout in the run game; on fourth and one I'm expecting safeties to go ahead and take the cheese and complying up there can and they didn't. He crosses his face and that was a boom, boom type of play right there that we end up hitting the first down right there. The catches he made were all in traffic. So, you know, that's big time.
Q. The starting linebackers, Rockington, Thomas, can you talk about changing that up?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, Travis was ready to come back and Joe played really good the last couple of games. So we just didn't feel that taking Joe out of the lineup was the right thing to do, and we also didn't feel that keeping Travis out of the lineup for injury was the right thing to do. We just felt that we played both of them. Our outside linebackers often are interchangeable and it gives us more versatility because Joe has three solid games in a row and got us Travis back out there in too.
Q. How would you evaluate the offensive line in terms of pass protection?
COACH Charlie Weis: I would say it was a tough day at the office.
Q. The decision to change up the punt returns, was that more precautionary or are you trying to get more people involved?
COACH Charlie Weis: Their punter has had a bunch of short punts this year, a bunch of them. You notice the first one, right to where we had Jeff placed. We had two guys back. West was back there ten, 15 yards deeper than him. That's just smart football, when you have a punter who hits one 45 yards and hits the next one 30 yards, well, I'd prefer the ball not to be rolling around on the ground. So we put him in there to catch the short ones, first time he was back there he caught it, and next time it was deeper and he turned into a blocker.
Q. Did you take an opportunity to remind the team that there's still five games to go in the season?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think that right now, I didn't want to take away I didn't want to take away from the feeling of euphoria in that locker room right now. But they very clearly know my feeling on Navy and the respect I have for Navy. But I think right now, I'm going to give the fellas a few minutes to enjoy this one.
Q. Can you just, what did you see when what were you thinking when Smarge (ph) caught that flash pass?
COACH Charlie Weis: I'm not sure if they were in Tampa or not, but I know they were dropping two in the middle. One thing we talked about was getting Jeff across the middle guy, because unless he got across the middle guy, it would just be a completion for 15 yards. But you know, Brady bided some time and then Jeff got across that middle guy. Now, you get any good receiver, any good receiver in open field now, where he's on the run, you know, you've got a chance of something big happening.
Q. When your offense is struggling a bit, do you ever have to pick them up on the sideline, or are they pretty composed?
COACH Charlie Weis: I think as long as you make sure the team doesn't see you sweat, and I'm serious, I think that they need to see that you're not going to lose your composure. At half time I said look, fellas, it's 14 10, we haven't played our best football. The offense, you're kind of out there going through it, but you're down four points. Obviously it's a little different now 17 13 and a couple minutes to go in the game. But I think that this team is a very mature team that didn't lose their composure, as much as we compliment of how UCLA played, I'm very proud of how the fellas ended this game today and you've got to give them credit for that.
Notre Dame Player Quotes
Senior WR Jeff Samardzija
On the final touchdown play of the game...
"Brady was getting pressured and I changed up my route and he just got it to me. There was really no thinking involved, because we train on this so much. It's just like a little dog, trained to just get in the end zone. I saw a couple guys there, but I picked up a block from Rhema and got a chance to get my head up to see where everyone was."
On coming back from behind to win the game...
"It's big time. There are a lot of teams out there that would not necessarily throw in the towel, but kind of self-implode. But we didn't let that happen. It was tough to grind it out, but we came out with it. We had calm heads. We got fired up on the sidelines and wanted things to happen, but overall we tried to keep calm heads to know what we needed to do. You don't know how it's going to come or when it's going to come but you have to take advantage of it. We had a sense of urgency, but we understood the situation. We practice this."
Senior S Tom Zbikowski
On falling behind early...
"It's tough to play in those situations, but the fans really got into it and that made it a lot easier. The energy was up, but we had to keep composure. That's what we showed tonight, that we can keep composure and make things happen when we need to."
On the performance of the defense on the final UCLA drive...
"Our defensive line and linebackers were making smart plays and we knew we needed to stay tough at the end. We made our tackles and everything worked out."
On UCLA's performance...
"We definitely wanted to start off our second season with a win. They have a tough defense and a tough offense and they came out to play. I give them all the credit in the world. But we stepped up at the end when we needed to."
Senior OG Bob Morton
On a `Notre Dame moment'...
"Notre Dame magic and Notre Dame lore is made up by Notre Dame players making plays. There's no magic in the plays that happens. The execution is what makes Notre Dame magic."
On the mood before the last drive...
"The offensive line was looking at each other saying `we need just one more chance.' We had the confidence in the defense, because they did a great job all day. All 11 guys on the field played out of their minds today, so we knew we were going to get on that field again."
Junior CB Terrail Lambert
On returning to action after a bye week...
"We knew coming in that this was basically a trap game. You're coming off a bye week, you're fresh and you're recovered, but a lot of times teams find themselves where they are not wary of their opponent. This was a very formidable opponent based on the virtue of the games they they've played in. They were only maybe four or five plays away from being undefeated in the Pac-10."
On the close margin of victory...
"Just for the sake of the coaches' hearts, we'd like to make a bit bigger. But however we do it, I'm happy.
Senior QB Brady Quinn
On the final touchdown play...
"I saw a window and I was about ready to throw when I saw a defender coming that way. I gave a pump fake to try and move the defenders around a little and create something, and then I found Jeff and he did the rest."
On the last drive...
"I knew based on earlier in the game that I was going to have to move around in the pocket a little bit. UCLA has a great defensive line, and usually they try to get pressure on the quarterback while the rest of the defense drops back in coverage. They are very successful at doing that and it makes it tough. I knew I would have to find a tight window and get the ball in our playmakers' hands."
On the emotion of the season...
"I think it would be emotionally draining if it was an up-and-down deal, but as long as you win, it isn't draining at all. Obviously we didn't play anywhere near perfect, but pulling out a win like that leaves you feeling pretty good about the game rather than hanging your head."
Senior CB Mike Richardson
On Notre Dame's second half efforts ...
"We just wanted to keep playing our game. We gave up those two big plays in the first half, which we shouldn't have, and for the most part we just wanted to keep just stuffing the run, just keep playing solid on the back end.
On the rarity of Coach Weis letting the Notre Dame players celebrate a win ...
"A win's a win, and we just want to enjoy it now, and then tomorrow and next week just get focused on our next game."
Senior DT Trevor Laws
On the Notre Dame defensive line's aggressive play ...
"We were getting after them all day. I thought they had a good O-line, a lot better than I expected, actually. But we just fought and scratched and made plays ... getting a push is always important to us, trying to make plays."
On winning the game in the final minute ...
"Every time, you know, the second half, when things aren't looking so good for us, there's always confidence in us, we know we can do it, that we can always pull it out. In the locker room, no one was getting down on themselves."