Some selected quotes from USC head coach Ed Orgeron’s Sunday night conference call following the Trojans’ 35-14 loss to UCLA.
“All of our coaches except myself are on the road recruiting today. The guys have had a very positive response, and I’ve been on the phone with a lot of recruits myself … it’s been very positive. Having had the chance to watch the offense, defense and special teams on film, we didn’t execute the way we wanted to in all three phases. We obviously didn’t play very well, but in looking back over the last eight weeks, and looking back at the whole body of work, if you put it all together we’ve made tremendous improvement as a football team. We played some very good football at a high level most of the time, and we won some very, very big games for the Trojan Family. And for that I’m very, very grateful for our football team and our coaching staff. We’re going to have a team meeting tomorrow.
"We’ll talk about academics and about getting on the right track. Obviously, we have to wait until next Sunday before they let us know what bowl we’ll go to, and we’ll make preparations accordingly.”
Orgeron on if he spoke to USC athletic director Pat Haden on Sunday:
“I did not have a meeting with Pat at all today. I’ve been busy recruiting most of the day. I spoke to him briefly after the game last night … just a normal talk about the game. Nothing other than that.”
On whether he gets many questions from recruits about the uncertainty surrounding his status as USC’s interim head coach, and if so, how he approaches those questions:
“Not many questions. … I just talk to them about the game, I talk to them about what we’ve done the last eight weeks, and I talk about our whole body of work, and the type of energy and the style that they watched us play with for most of the time … where they would fit in within the recruiting class … just the normal positive recruiting stuff that we talk about here at USC. Very few do ask, [and] I say, ‘Listen, we don’t know what’s going to happen.’ I just continue to recruit and work on a daily basis as the head coach here until they make a decision.”
Has he been told by Haden when a meeting to discuss his status might happen?
“No, not yet. We just talked about going ahead with recruiting, go ahead and do what I need to do, and he’ll talk to me when he’s ready to.”
On what stands out about USC’s loss to UCLA that Orgeron wishes he could have changed or done differently:
“The field position hurt us a bunch. We gave up too many return yards in the kicking game. We felt like we started behind the eight ball in field position a whole bunch. Obviously we would do something to adjust that. The quarterback runs really hurt us. We did have a plan, [but] obviously we didn’t stop him, so we’d have to do something different against the quarterback runs. I thought [Brett] Hundley had an excellent game. There were some times where there were too many holes, and there were some things we could have done better, obviously. We did not tackle as well as we normally tackle. I thought that our run game would be a lot better … we struggled early in the run game, which really hurt us. And those are the things that we wish we could improve on.”
On the pre-game verbal altercation between the teams:
“That’s something that we didn’t like, and I addressed the team after that. That was something that had nothing to do with the football game, and obviously, if I could have avoided it I would have.”
“I believe Aundrey was operated on today, and everything came out fine. And that’s all I have today. I’ll talk to Russ [Romano] tomorrow and give you an update on the rest of the guys.”
On what’s next for the juniors who are considering leaving early and declaring for the NFL draft:
“We’ve had some preliminary talks with the juniors. We’ll have a meeting with them this week. I’ll have a meeting with the parents … and hopefully [they] go through the whole process. Most of those guys are willing to listen. I don’t know if any of them have totally made up their mind whether they’re going to go or not. I think they’re still in the decision-making process. We’re going to give them all of the information that they need so they can make a sound decision.”
“I think you have to look at all of them. … They haven’t told me if they want to go, if they don’t want to go … we won’t leave any stone unturned. We will talk to all of the guys … George Uko, Josh Shaw, Marcus Martin, Aundrey [Walker]. All of the guys that are eligible to go, we’re going to make sure that we talk to them … Hayes Pullard. We don’t want to lose any of them, obviously.”
On whether Orgeron has ever been in the position he is now, recruiting for a program with no permanent head coach:
“I was here when Coach [Paul] Hackett was let go, and I was here for two weeks before they hired Pete Carroll. I was out on the road recruiting, and we didn’t have a head coach, and we just happened to sign one of the best recruiting classes we’ve ever had. One of them was Shaun Cody, another was Kenechi Udeze and another was Mike Patterson. That’s a pretty good recruiting class. Matt Leinart … those guys helped us win a championship. So, yeah, I’ve been in that position before. We know what to do.”