Inside the locker room: USC's loss to UCLA

PASADENA, Calif. -- Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the Rose Bowl after the USC Trojans (7-4, 6-3 Pac-12) were defeated 38-20 by the UCLA Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) Saturday.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian comments:

For openers: “I’m going to start by saying UCLA played a very good football game. Some of the keys to the ballgame were pretty clear -- their ability to extend drives, the third-down efficiency, 9-for-16, and then their efficiency in the red zone, 5-for-6. I felt like they did a nice job on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Over time that took a toll on us. We couldn't get off the field.”

On the perimeter game: “The perimeter screen game really hurt us. The ball got on the perimeter for them, and they really got yards and chunks in the screen game, which took its toll. It was a real swing in the game with the turnover there in the second quarter. They took advantage of it -- the score right at the end of the half. Then they came right back out and got another seven to start the second half. Then we go three-and-out and they get seven more. [That] really was the entire ball game.”

On bouncing back to face Notre Dame: “It’s going to be a unique challenge for us. We have to get back up on the horse, and when there’s this level of disappointment that’s going to take great leadership. That starts with me getting these guys prepared to play Notre Dame next Saturday night.”

UCLA head coach Jim Mora comments:

On the meaning of the victory over USC: “It just confirms what I have believed in all along. It’s not close to finished, but we are moving in the right direction.”

On the USC rivalry: “When I got here, I didn’t think much of it. I just have a lot of respect for Sark, obviously. That guy gave me an opportunity, along with [UCLA athletic director] Dan [Guerrero] and Chancellor Block. I just have a lot of respect for Sark and what he is trying to do over there. I don’t know about the rivalry. That is not how my mind works. I just work day to day.”

On defending the Trojans: “To me, it is about stopping the run first, eliminating big plays second and getting after the quarterback third. But you don’t want to let things get down the field on us. Nelson Agholor is special. I said the same thing about [Marqise] Lee two years ago. [Nelson is] a great football player. You have to tackle him and you can’t let him get loose.”

More notes and anecdotes:

Key(s) to victory: UCLA junior quarterback Brett Hundley passed for three touchdowns (326 yards through the air) and rushed for another, while the Bruins defense dominated a subdued Trojans offense in a decisive 38-20 victory that gave the Blue and Gold their third consecutive win over the Men of Troy.

Let’s get physical: On the physical aspect of the game, Mora said, “UCLA is a physical football team. I don’t think there was anything extra. We felt like if we let it get to where it was extra, we thought that it could get away from us, emotionally. We held it together emotionally, and USC did the exact same thing. That is a credit to our staff and to their staff. That is a credit to their players and to our players. It was good, hard-fought football by two teams dying to get after each other.”

The offensive implosion: The Trojans scored 20 points against the Bruins on Saturday. Prior to the UCLA game, the Trojans were averaging 35.2 points per game.

Kessler comments: On UCLA’s defensive dominance, Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler said, “They did a really good job of game-planning us. They got a lot of pressure on us and they had a great pass rush.”

Defensive leak: The Trojans defense allowed 38 points to the Bruins on Saturday. Prior to the UCLA game, the Men of Troy were allowing 23.3 points per game.

The strong safety speaks: Trojans senior strong safety Gerald Bowman had his opinion of the game and the UCLA offense. Bowman said, “We have to step it up. I think a turning point was our missed tackles. We were doing our jobs, but we just didn’t finish. We have to learn to finish. They were running their offensive tempo pretty fast.”

Quarterback pressure: Kessler was sacked six times by the UCLA defense, while the Trojans sacked Hundley just twice.

Offensive recession: The Trojans had 276 yards in total offense against the Bruins on Saturday. Prior to the UCLA game, the Men of Troy were averaging 458.0 offensive yards per game.

Fast start: Before the UCLA game, the Trojans had outscored opponents 129-22 in the first quarter. On Saturday night in the first quarter, the Men of Troy were outscored 14-7.

Getting on line: Afterward, Trojans starting sophomore offensive tackle Zach Banner said, “This one hurts. It’s our rivals. Seeing Cody get sacked, I personally feel like I let my team down.”

More defensive issues: Against the Bruins on Saturday, the Trojans defense allowed a total of 461 yards. Prior to the UCLA game, the Trojans were allowing 396.8 yards per game.

Through the Hayes: On his defense’s performance, Trojans senior linebacker Hayes Pullard said, “Nobody could have predicted this game before and looked into the future. I always tip my cap to Brett (Hundley). He’s a physical runner and a very skilled athlete.”

Rush-hour jam: Against the Bruins on Saturday, the Trojans rushed for 62 yards. Prior to the Bruins game, the Men of Troy were averaging 163.1 yards rushing per game.

Tough going: Trojans standout junior tailback Javorius Allen managed just 60 yards rushing with a long carry of 12 yards.

On the mark: Against the Bruins on Saturday, the Trojans defense allowed 135 net yards rushing. Prior to the UCLA game, the Men of Troy were allowing 135.1 yards rushing per game.

Counting the house: The announced attendance was 82,431, which is short of a Rose Bowl sellout (91,136).

Below the passing norm: On Saturday against the Bruins, the Trojans passed for 214 yards. Prior to the UCLA game, the Trojans were averaging 294.9 passing yards per game.

The evaluation: On the turning point to this season, senior tight end Randall Telfer, who didn’t catch a pass on Saturday night, said, “The tide for us turned at the start of the season when we thought we could be special. We had the hype and the expectations. It has become strange and shocking. As for UCLA, they have a lot of heart and energy and they have managed to put together a complete team.”

Air defense breakdown: On Saturday against the Bruins, the Trojans defense allowed 326 passing yards. Prior to the UCLA game, the Trojans pass defense was allowing 261.7 yards per game.

Action Jackson: Outside the Trojans locker room after the game, USC true freshman corner sensation Adoree' Jackson said, “We messed up on tackles. We made a couple of mistakes, especially on my end. I was surprised by the game, and I thought we were going to get the ‘W.’ UCLA just executed better than us.”

Flag improvement: On Saturday against the Bruins, the Trojans were penalized five times for 49 yards. Prior to the UCLA game, the Trojans were averaging 83.2 yards in penalties per game.

A second opinion: Assessing the game following its conclusion, Trojans junior linebacker Anthony Sarao said, “We failed to execute. We had a great game plan coming in. It’s not about a magical defense. It’s about players. I’ll say this: We never laid down.”

Top tacklers: Pullard led the Trojans defense with nine tackles, followed by sophomore free safety Leon McQuay with seven tackles.

Injury report: There were no reported injuries.

Scouts honor: NFL scouts in attendance included reps from the Rams, Raiders, Cowboys, Dolphins, Panthers, Jaguars, Colts, Falcons, Bengals and Bears.

Bowling alley: Representatives from the Alamo, Holiday and Sun Bowls were in attendance to watch the Trojans and Bruins.

Next game: The Trojans will host the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame next Saturday afternoon in the Coliseum. Kickoff time will be 12:30 p.m. PT and the game will be televised on Fox.