JM: well, first of all, congratulations to Stanford and David Shaw [head coach] and all their players, staff, students on winning the PAC-12. That’s an outstanding football team. I thought that was a tremendous game tonight against a quality opponent. I thought kids on both sides fought their tails off. I’m very disappointed we came up short. I think we have a lot to be proud of this year. I think we’ve accomplished a lot so far. And it’s only the beginning. We’ve been together less than a year. I think our seniors have set a great foundation upon which we can build on. And become a football team that we can, year in and year out, competes for not only PAC-12 championships but at the highest level. That’s our goal.
Very disappointed obviously not for myself but for the young men in that locker room that just poured their hearts into this season. They did everything that we asked. I told them they shouldn’t be ashamed of anything. Obviously there’s a lot of tears, a lot of disappointment, but I think they should be proud of what they accomplished. If anybody thought that we’d be sitting here tonight with less than 45 seconds left on the clock and the potential to tie it or win it, I’m not sure anyone would’ve taken that bet.
Obviously we have a lot of work to do to become the team that we want to be. That’ll start immediately. We’ll get the bowl practices. I don’t know what bowl we’ll have. We’ll have a tremendous offseason. We’ll continue to work on our size and our speed. Our strength. We’ve got a tremendous strength and conditioning program that’s been in place for 11 months. And I think there’s a lot of bright things on the horizon for UCLA football.
But tonight was certainly Stanford’s night. We’re very disappointed. That’s all I got.
Q: was there any thought to maybe going for it on 4th and 4 to try to make the field goal shorter?
JM: there was a thought but if we didn’t get it, we wouldn’t have a chance to kick a field goal. Ka'imi [Fairbairn] has developed into the type of kicker that I think everyone in that room has the confidence in, going out and trying to make that kick.
Q: how much was the difference tonight “experience”? Did you see some things that perhaps next year, with experience, that the team would do better or different?
JM: well, I think experience is always going to help you. Talent that has experience is certainly going to typically perform better, but I didn’t see anything on our side that led me to believe that we were overwhelmed or lacking in experience. I did see a Stanford team that’s very poised. Has been there before. Is years into their system and program. And we’re just beginning.
Q: Coach, you talked about the seniors laying down the foundation. Have you had a chance to talk to Johnathan Franklin, especially after the way he ran tonight?
JM: no, I mean we spoke as a team. And then I came out here to see you guys.
Q: Coach, what happened on that long touchdown on 3rd down? Was it a communications breakdown?
JM: yes, there was a communication breakdown. And we busted the coverage. At a very inopportune time.
Q: Coach, Franklin had a huge game rushing. What was the biggest difference between this game and the last game for you guys?
JM: well, we blocked better. We found some seams. We got to the second level. That’s typically what it is when you run the ball well. Johnathan is a hard runner. He’s a guy that’s tough to bring down if you can get him to the second level. Get him into space. He’s very effective and I thought our guys did a nice job doing that for him tonight.
Q: Coach, can you talk about that quarterback, Kevin Hogan? Just his ability to make plays and win games? In his 4 starts, he’s beaten 4 ranked teams in a row.
JM: he’s an impressive kid. He’s very poised. I don’t know how many games he’s started. But he’s very poised. He’s careful with the ball. He makes good decisions when he’s on the move, when he’s outside the pocket. And I think they did a nice job of using him as a runner tonight as well. We’ve seen him run. He had some effective runs last week, scrambling. But today, he did a nice job running the football.
Q: Coach, a lot was made about the weather coming in the game. did it have any impact on your team at all?
JM: no, I don’t think so.
Q: okay, just between you and me, were you holding back Hundley last week?
Q: You didn’t set him free this week?
Q: because he obviously adds a different dimension when he’s running. Any explanation why he didn’t run last week and did this week?
JM: he did a nice job this week, I thought, of taking what was there. They played a little bit more man-to-man. And defense has their backs to you when it’s man-to-man. You take off and you go, and I thought Brett did a good job of it tonight. That’s obviously an element of his game that we’d like to accentuate. And tonight he did a nice job of that.
Q: they did a good job of controlling Johnathan Franklin last week. What were you thinking when he broke off that first big run on the first series?
JM: well, we’ve run the ball well all year. If I’m not mistaken, Johnathan Franklin just became UCLA’s all-time single season rushing leader. He’s already UCLA’s all-time career rushing leader. We felt confident that we could run the ball. We felt confident that we could run the ball all year against anybody. They did an excellent job against us last week. This week, we had some success. But the end result is trying to win the game. We didn’t, and they did.
Q: Jim, with the lack of success on kickoff returns the last couple of games, were you considering at all maybe having the guys take a knee when the ball rolls into the end zone?
JM: it depends. It depends on how deep it is. I’m not going to tell them to take a knee. We’re confident that we can block it up. We struggled returning kicks the last couple of weeks. We had some injuries. I hate to blame injuries. I’m not blaming injuries. But we had to make some adjustments to players that are in positions, not only to carry the ball, but to block. And it has affected us. It’s not really my style to tell a guy to take a knee in the endzone. We’re going to try to go for it. I think you know that about this team.
Q: Jim, UCLA’s had great single seasons in the past 15-20 years. How hard is it to impress upon these kids the difficulty in sustaining this? The importance of sustaining this beyond this year?
JM: well, that’s something that we’ll talk about later. This is a tremendous group of young men. They are great kids. They’ve done everything that this staff, this university has asked of them. I think they have represented UCLA with tremendous class. And I think, judging by the disappointment in that locker room today, I don’t think it’ll be hard to get these guys refocused and reenergized for the future. Right now, probably not a great word to use, but we need to mourn a little bit. We need to get over this one. We poured it out there. Look at these guys [pointing to Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley]. A couple of great young men, and they just frickin’ poured it out there today. And we came up short. So we’ll eventually move on but this week will sting for awhile. You don’t get this close and get that close and lose and not have it hurt.
Q: Jim, you’ve talked a lot this year about finishing. That’s kind of been a big thing. You guys start the fourth quarter with the lead. What was it you saw that wasn’t allowing you guys to finish this [game] off?
JM: we busted a coverage.
Q: Coach, with how well you guys played, especially with how well you did on the ground, do you chalk this up to just a few mistakes, that blown coverage, a few penalties, is that how you feel like how you’re going to look back on this game?
JM: I don’t know. We’ll look back on the film. Maybe give you a better answer later. We made some mistakes. They made some mistakes. We made some plays. They made some plays. They made the plays when they had to make them. They put their players in position to make the plays. The first thing we always do as a coaching staff is look at ourselves. What could we have done better, to help these guys who played their guts out on the field, to have success.