Kansas State – 35, UCLA – 17
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by UCLA interim head coach Jedd Fisch and student-athletes Devon Modster and Kenny Young.
COACH FISCH: Obviously, very disappointed in the final result. But couldn’t be more proud of the team. We handled a ton of adversity this year and a ton of change. And then after the SC week they continued to play as hard as possible.
In tonight’s game we continued to handle adversity. For Devon to step in and throw for 295 yards and two touchdowns and not throw a pick and not get sacked and be over 65 percent, I think, is a phenomenal night.
I’m sure there’s a few more we could have had. I thought our defense — I thought they played lights out. That first half of football they played as good of a half. It’s 17-7, we had the ball in the second half to start. And we’re driving.
And we don’t make a play on a third down. We drop a third down ball that would have been first and 10 on the 30. We don’t make it. They score. And then we wind up fumbling the ball.
So some self-inflicting wounds. I think at the end they kind of wore us down a little bit. They just held the ball and held the ball and we didn’t have a chance, and we needed to convert. But I couldn’t be more proud of our team.
The guys in there, in that locker room, they never quit. And these two guys led us really the whole way and the whole bowl trip and they were phenomenal.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Jedd, starting a few days ago there were some reports out that Josh wouldn’t be playing today. Can you kind of take us through that decision-making process? And I know obviously he warmed up today, and if you guys had any discussions today, and if so how his reaction was when you told him he wouldn’t be playing?
COACH FISCH: I want to be clear on this: Josh wanted to play. Josh was unable to play because of the fact that he had two concussions within a four-week span in November, and our physicians didn’t feel comfortable putting him out there and putting him at risk for a possibility of a third concussion.
Q. You guys had it humming on both sides of the ball in the first half. Did they do anything schematically differently in the second half that kind of led to the switch?
COACH FISCH: No, I think, really, kind of what I was saying was that first half it’s 17-7, we get the ball and we’re driving down. And I think we get started on the minus 14 or so. We got to the plus 41.
And then we’re third down and we throw an out route to our sideline that puts it first and 10 on the 30-yard line and then in position to score again. We miss it. We punt it. They score, and then it’s 17-14. Almost one of the most incredible goal line stands by about half a yard.
And then we get the ball back and we fumble. That’s nothing schematic. We turned the ball over. And then they get it and the score changes to 21-17.
And then we had a chance. We ran a fake punt, put ourselves back in position on the plus side of the 50. It was fourth and 5. We threw a fade ball to Jordan, and I thought that either he was tangled up or couldn’t get that right arm up for some reason.
So unfortunately we didn’t make that catch. And then they kind of grinded it out there to make it 28-17. And then we were in position based on time that we had to go for it a little bit. And that’s kind of why they got that final score.
But I thought our defense did play well the whole game. The last nine minutes there’s really not that much you can do there.
Q. Devon, when did you know that you would be starting today? And what kind of role did Josh play on the sideline for you?
DEVON MODSTER: I was just kind of preparing the whole bowl week, so, as if I was a starter because we weren’t sure.
But Josh is great on the sideline. He has good eyes. He’s telling me what defensive ends are doing and how the corners are playing. He really helped me out a lot today.
Q. You guys had — were rolling pretty good in the first half. I think only four first downs in the second half. From your perspective, how were things not able to continue that momentum in the second half?
DEVON MODSTER: I think I just threw too many incomplete passes. That’s pretty much it.
Q. Kenny, what difficulty did their quarterback, Delton, bring to you? I think he ripped off that 68-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and then he kept running in the second half?
KENNY YOUNG: Right. I think as far as the defense aspect, we just had to find ways to stop him because he wasn’t trying to do something crazy. The only thing he tried to get was the backside run, so we adjusted to that after the run and we stopped him ever since then.
I’m just proud of the way our guys fought for four quarters on all three phases of the ball. I think this whole journey of this year has been through ups and downs, but thanks to Coach Fisch, who has guided us and put our focus on what’s most important.
I think we had championship practices. So I think the focus is really about us, what we didn’t do enough of. And we should have stopped them, their offense in key situations. But a few penalties hurt us. And that’s just all the discipline. That’s the things we need to work on.
Q. Devon, did the Kansas State defense change anything they were doing in the second half?
DEVON MODSTER: I don’t think so. I mean, played a lot of man coverage on the outside and a lot of cover four. So it was nothing that we didn’t prepare for or watch film on, so …
Q. Coach, Kenny alluded to the penalties. There was a stretch of three penalties in three plays in that fourth quarter. I think you called a timeout, or someone called a timeout after Jordan picked one up. What was the message during that timeout?
COACH FISCH: I think it was a strange game. I think we got about three and a half quarters of very few penalties and then that second part of that fourth quarter it became a penalty-fest. And we just tried to regain some composure and be smart.
I think I took the timeout was to get the review, and they gave me the timeout back. Then the other timeouts I took was just to stop the clock just to give ourselves an opportunity to score.
Q. Rosen is going to have a big decision coming up. Do you feel he’s NFL ready at this point or do you feel he could use another year of college?
COACH FISCH: Yeah, he’s NFL-ready. And I think everybody can use another year of college. But, yeah, I think that he has the ability to go out there and throw any ball to anybody he wants.
He’s got incredible accuracy. He’s incredibly talented. And I’m sure if he wants to move on, he’s able to do that. If he wants to come back, he’ll help this team.
Q. Kenny, your last game for UCLA. How do you characterize your career ending right now?
KENNY YOUNG: You can’t, honestly. You can’t. But what I’m most proud of is the way that I had to use my leadership in different ways to get us guys on the focus of what’s the next thing? What’s the next positive thing? What’s the next opportunity we have?
So just the way the guys responded to the adversity that we faced and the challenges and the opportunities that we had in front of us, that’s what I’m most proud of. It’s really not about me; it’s about seeing the impact of the guys around me. I think that’s where I sleep good at night, when I can see guys are happy and they’re energized about the next opportunity and they want to play for each other.
We want to play for Coach Mora and Coach Fisch and for each other. Rosen didn’t play this game; we wanted to play for Rosen. There’s so many motivation things that we pinpointed that we played for over the course of this season, and I’m just proud of the way our guys fought.
That’s a great way for me to go out despite the wins and losses, because I played the game for moments, I don’t play for wins and losses. I just give it all I got, and try to teach the guys the same thing. That’s where we collectively learn over time, if we can go back another 20-plus years from now, it’ll be, like, yeah, remember when we did such and such? That was pretty fun and actually laugh about it. I’m just proud of the way we responded, honestly.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.