Here is what UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel had to say after the Bruins lost 28-7 to USC:
“Congratulations to USC, the conference champion. They are a very talented football team. I thought our team played very hard and hung around. Unfortunately, some penalties and some things were happening with special teams that had not happened all year long and reared their heads in the first half. We tip our hat to them and wish them well on New Year’s Day.”
on USC jumping on field prior to second half
“I don’t like it, frankly. Their team came out on the field and did that – I don’t know what you call it. But, our team felt like they weren’t going to be shown up here at the Rose Bowl, and our team matched that. I don’t believe that’s great for college football. I believe we need to stop that. I think we ought to create a rule that says it’s not part of the game.”
on how UCLA can improve
“I see us with a year of time to develop our program with all the pieces in place. When you get this job at this time last year, you have a lot of time spent putting pieces in place. I think with time and another year of knowledge and of understanding our offense – of Norm’s system – we will benefit. We’ll get bigger and stronger. Our kids won’t get overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage, and we’ll improve ourselves via recruiting. We’ll get better.”
on UCLA’s offense
“We played a little closer to the vest, knowing that we couldn’t turn the ball over, and for the most part it worked. But, we weren’t able to make enough plays downfield. You can couple that with the running into the kicker [penalty] after we have them stopped and the blocked punt. When you are playing conservative football, then field position is absolutely critical, and those are two field position changing plays.”
on UCLA’s first-quarter touchdown
“It was exciting. Remember, I have been part of this game before. I played here. I was an assistant coach from 1988 through 1993. Being part of this again, being back on the field, it’s where it’s at. It’s an exciting thing. To get off to a start and for a senior like Kahlil Bell to make a play, that’s a huge deal. I just like how hard our guys played. That doesn’t show up on the scoreboard, but that does show up starting January 5 when we come back to school.
“We had the play for the entire year. The play is called Tennessee because it was designed for the Tennessee game – but we didn’t have the opportunity to use it in that game. We used it today, and it worked and got us off to a good start.”
on quarterback Kevin Craft
“I think Kevin played hard. I think he worked hard to manage games and to learn our offense. This isn’t personally directed at Kevin, but the quarterback at UCLA has to play better. For us to be the kind of team we want to be, the position of quarterback has to be played better – that means we have to coach it better and we have to perform better and have more competition at that position. We’re going to raise the stakes. People have to understand that you have to elevate your game so that your whole offense elevates. Sanchez had a lot of time to make decisions and make plays downfield, but we didn’t have that kind of time this year to sit there and make those kinds of plays. We had to craft a different kind of offense and it wasn’t productive.”
on what you take from the 2008 season
“Number one, I’m thankful to be back in college football doing what I do. I’m very thankful for those who gave me the opportunity. I think our defense evolved to a very competitive place. You look at our previous weeks, at Arizona State and Washington, they were fabulous. We want to keep DeWayne [Walker] around here. But I also hope that if there is a head coach job out there for him that he can get it, because he is fabulous. Offensively, we have a ways to go. We played with too many guys who hadn’t played enough on the offensive line. Some of the guys we ended up choosing were not developed enough at this level. In being so limited, without being able to run the ball so effectively, it became a very difficult game to play. It resulted in far too many turnovers. The marching orders are easy – we’ve got to become a better offense.