UCLA football: Rick Neuheisel's post-game remarks
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel, after the Bruins' 28-14 loss to USC at the Rose Bowl on Saturday:
"Congratulations to Coach Kiffin and the Trojans, a well-earned victory. A difficult, bitter loss for us. We certainly had our chances and plenty of opportunities. At 7-7, we have the ball headed toward the red zone, there's a holding call, we jump offsides, and then a fumble and they return it for a touchdown. Our defense was valiant in the third quarter to make some plays downfield, and unfortunately we didn't take advantage of it. We pinned them down inside their own five-yard line, and they made 16 yards there, and the drive resulted in another touchdown. We drove the ball down there, had a chance to catch the ball in the end zone and didn't make the play. That's what it comes down to. We didn't make the play. We have to get better. We have to perform better. We certainly played hard. There was absolutely zero quit on my team. They are great, great guys to coach. I could never ask for better people to be around. But as a group of people, we have to perform at a higher level to compete with the teams that are, obviously, ahead of us. We have to figure out the formula to get that done. We're looking forward to getting that process started. But again, congratulations to USC."
On Johnathan Franklin's limited playing time after a second-quarter fumble:
"I don't think he was benched at all. I don't know why the playing time diminished. Coach [Wayne] Moses handles the running backs' playing times. Maybe he was dinged. I'll have to ask."
On juniors Rahim Moore and Akeem Ayers possibly heading to the NFL:
"It's not my place to make them stick around. I want them to get the proper information and for them to get the best advice possible to make an informed decision. Certainly we at UCLA would love to have them back. We'd like for them to finish their degrees. At the beginning and end, that is what we are here for. Both of them are close and on pace. But these are financial decisions. So they have to get the best advice and counsel possible.... I like both kids and hope like heck they make good decisions and we'll support them however they decide."
On quarterback Richard Brehaut:
On kicker Kai Forbath:
"I'm sick about Kai not getting a chance to kick a field goal. He came up and said 'I need one more.' How can I kick a field goal at the end of the game when you're down 21 points? Kai understood. He's a great Bruin."
(Note: The part where Neuheisel says Forbath approached him and said 'I need one more' was mysteriously stricken from the quotes distributed to the media after the game.)
On UCLA fans:
"They come because they love UCLA. Their frustration, no matter whom it's pointed at, frustration is passion. They want UCLA football to be good. Nobody wants that more than me. I've got to look ahrd at how we are going to turn the corner. But some of the things that have plagued us continue to plague us. Those are hard decisions and that's hard analysis, but it's absolutely mandatory that I do it and it's absolutely mandatory that we come up with positive conclusions that will maek those great Bruin fans keep coming back, excited about coming back."
On analyzing the football program in the offseason:
"I've said all along that I'll have to wait until the end of the season, and it's the end of the season. I have to trust my instincts on that. I've got some great memories at the University that will help me. I'm looking forward to getting that process started as quickly as possible."
On the biggest problems on offense and defense:
"If you're talking offense, you're going to talk turnovers. We had far too many turnovers this year. Absolutely, it was the worst part of our game -- the fumbles, the interceptions, what have you. We squandered way too many drives because of them. Defensively, we couldn't stop the run this year. They gashed us for the final run to make it 28. You can't play defense giving up yards on the ground like that. We've got to figure out how we can be better with respect to being a run-stopping defense."
Photo: USC Coach Lane Kiffin and UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel meet after the game Saturday night at the Rose Bowl. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press