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Postgame Quotes - #20 USC at Arizona

Nov 14, 2020

Postgame Quotes
#20 USC - 34
Arizona - 30
Nov. 14, 2020

Arizona head coach Coach Sumlin
Overall what did you think your team showed or proved today?
"I don't know that we proved anything. You win or lose. I thought that we had some experienced guys that we expected to play well and we had some newcomers, whether they are transfers or young guys that played well, but not well enough to win. That's the bottom line. As I told them in the locker room, our effort was great and was where it should be. Athletically, we've improved in all three phases, but to win close games like that it comes down to some situational football and some things that we can clean up. We have to go back on Monday and fix those things. Those things are fixable, but athletically, we're better and I thought our guys gave effort. We have to be smarter in some situations to get over the hump. Ultimately, in those kinds of close games, it comes down to making plays and doing your job. We had a couple of breakdowns in those areas, but that can be fixed."
What were your overall impressions on the defensive side of the ball?
"I thought in the first half we did a good job. We only had three penalties in the first half, but they were three third down penalties. One questionable call and then some others that gave them first downs to keep some drives alive. The rotation up front has improved, particularly in our run defense. They started running some more stretch zone and it took us a while to get that shut down in the second half. Overall, we're better. We didn't force a turnover today, but that's credit to USC as well. We have some things that we can build off of. Certainly, up front, our D-line against the run has improved."
What was the defensive strategy and thought process on USC's final drive?
"We were down a couple safeties. We had some mix ups there. Number one, Jaxsen Turner had left the game a couple times and was out. Our safeties were thin there anyways. We had a couple DBs that were out. So the ability to play man to man or tighter coverage right there with our seconds or thirds, we were a little bit out of that. That was the position we were in and obviously USC took advantage of that." 
Arizona Quarterback Grant Gunnell:
How would you describe the overall mood of the team coming out of a game like this?
"Obviously we're disappointed. I take full responsibility for throwing that pick early in the game that screwed us up later down the line. There's definitely some disappointment here that comes with a loss, especially when it's that close and everyone was saying we were the underdog. We already got rid of that disappointment. We're optimistic and we're driven right now. It was our first game of the year and our defense looked great. Everybody on the offensive side of the ball looked great. We want to be great. We want to win games here. We're not settling for losing. We're tired of losing and we're going to bring some wins."
What was the thought process on the final sequence?
"After I took that sack, it put us at a 70-yard throw so we settled for rugby, which is pitching the ball and it didn't work out."
Arizona Linebacker Rourke Freeburg
Did starting come as a surprise to you as a walk on?
"If you had told me two or three years ago that I was starting I would have said "yeah ,you're probably right," because that's the kind of mentality (I have). I'm going to work hard and I'm going to earn that spot. But there's not a lot of walk-ons that are starting in the Pac-12 or across the country, so it does (surprise me) but it also doesn't at the same time. I take a lot of pride in being a walk-on and starting on this defense."
What did you see out there on the field today as far as the game went? What are your overall takeaways?
"A lot of ups and downs. I felt like in the first half we did a good job of minimizing plays, tackling well, stopping the run. Getting off the field on third down was something we struggled with today. Those are the four keys that Coach Rhoads had said we needed to do to win the game and I feel like we did a pretty good job of that until the second half. Our offense runs a very similar scheme, so to be honest with you, it was almost like we were playing against our offense today. I felt very comfortable. I was nervous all day, it was my first start, but once I got out on the field, it was like second nature to me."

USC Head Coach Clay Helton
Opening statement:
"Those kids had a lot of heart today and looking at our football team, offensively, we showed up late again. We missed some opportunities in the red zone that I thought could separate us in the second half. Being inside the 15-yard line twice coming away with no points, it left a good team in (the game). Credit to their kids offensively. I thought they did a nice job of spreading the ball around and making some big plays down the field. At the end, our kids did what they did last time. I didn't see any panic. They showed great poise. We had a little over a minute on the clock with three time outs. We felt extremely comfortable. It's what we do at practice each and every week and the guys executed to perfection. A Pac-12 win on the road, 1-0 on the week and 2-0 on the season. We will get back home and get prepared for next week."
On the difference of when things are working offensively vs not...
"It's one of those games where you are going to look up that we had somewhere around 500 yards. It was our execution in the red zone that stood out to me. Any time that you get it inside the 15 twice and come away with no points is an opportunity to separate yourself in the game. That's something we improved a little on this week, but we need to work a little more on. I'm really happy with the run game and how that is going. That's really the difference in us this year compared to last year. We are fortunate to get out of here with a win. We improved in some areas and some other areas we need to keep improving in. I'm proud of these kids and how tough they are."
On how concerned they are coming out of this game...
"We are 2-0, so we are going to go back home and continue to improve each and every week and find a way to get 1-0 next week against a good Utah team. I know our kids really deal with reality well. They deal with the truth well. There are some things that we need to get better at, but we celebrate all the wins. Conference games on the road that you come out with, celebrate."
Safety Talanoa Hufanga
General thoughts on the game:
"[Arizona] likes to spread the ball out and to take shots down the field and make their plays. Overall, we just need to continue to work and bring the intensity next week so we can go 1-0 next week. We want to celebrate for 24 hours and move onto the next one. We are just excited for this opportunity to keep on going."
USC Tailback Vavae Malepeai
On what changed in the second half and how they adjusted:
"We moved to different personnel, bringing in that bigger guy that we could keep our eyes on. We just had to trust our personnel in the back end. We wanted to bring more pressure and give more opportunities to make our plays as a defense. For us, we had a bunch of guys that were able to step up into big time rolls, guys who can just come in and do their jobs. We are proud of them."
On the mood after such a dramatic comeback:
"It's a blessing for sure. At the end of the day we celebrate all wins. Today was a win. We celebrate tonight and then prepare for Utah (next week). They are a great team that is looking to come out with a good season opener."