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Arizona coach Jedd Fisch discusses Jordan McCloud’s injury, penalties and turnovers after home loss to UCLA

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jedd-fisch-arizona-wildcats-ucla-bruins-postgame-comments-pac-12-jordan-mccloud-football Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats suffered their 17th consecutive loss Saturday with a 34-16 home defeat to the UCLA Bruins. The loss drops Arizona to 0-5 and 0-2 in Pac-12 play.

Our recap can be found here. Below is what UA head coach Jedd Fisch had to say after the game.

On Arizona’s inability to convert scoring opportunities: “I thought the guys competed hard. I don’t think there’s any question about that. I thought it was a really good football game to be honest with you. I think it was 14-13 at half, 17-16 in the third. Couple third downs that we converted — the penalties — one was a third and one that we converted, and they called a 15-yard chop block. That ended up hurting us, ended up turning into a field goal I think or maybe even a punt. then another one we had a third down to Bryce (Wolma) that we converted that they called the that he was covered up, which then in turn cost us there as well, turned into a punt. So two third down conversions that we didn’t get offensively which I was hopeful that we would have. I thought that we did a nice job in terms of moving the football tonight. The first possession or first drive, again, we got down into the red area, had a penalty, stopped ourselves, field goal. Second drive, red area, penalty, stopped ourselves, field goal. Third drive we had that fourth and one, got stopped on the quarterback sneak. It was surprising to me that we didn’t get that. And then the next drive we had the touchdown with Jamarye (Joiner) on the double pass.”

On Arizona’s second-half turnovers: “I thought we answered well in the second half and then we just kind of got caught at the end there, turned the ball over. We didn’t turn the ball over in the first half. We turned it over twice I think in the second half and one with Jordan (McCloud), which unfortunately resulted in an injury. And then one with Michael (Wiley) there at the end.”

On the defense’s performance: “I thought our defense, they battled, they hung in there, they were on the field a lot. They had every run thrown at them. There was a lot of different hard runs to fit up and they got some good runs on us. I know that, but I feel that our defense really played good football. I think that the stats might not necessarily show it in the rushing but I think if we converted on some of those plays, that wouldn’t have happened.”

On the extent of McCloud’s injury: “Right now it seems to be some form of a right leg or knee injury that we’ll take a look at what extent. He’s on crutches. But until we get the MRI and the X-ray, we don’t know exactly. I don’t think it’s a real short term injury. I think we’ll have to see the extent of it here soon.”

On the emotional impact of McCloud going down: “I would say emotionally it hurts. … It was first and 10, we had the ball, we just got I think a 15 yard pass interference penalty, so we were around about the 40 or so. We were calling a shot down the field to Boobie (Curry). They played man coverage, wound up taking a sack and with that a fumble, with that losing your quarterback, with that having to put the defense back on the field, that’s a tough one. It was 24-16 so we’re trying to answer the bell, right? We’re trying to answer and we just hit two first downs in a row and I think there was a little bit of a deflation there. But our defense stepped up and they did an incredible job right there of stopping, and they pinned us back. That was a tough scenario.”

On McCloud’s performance up until his injury: “I thought he was playing outstanding. I thought he was playing as good as he could have played. He threw the ball away when there was nobody open. He scrambled when there was places to scramble. The two zone replays we called, he converted on both of those. He made great decisions with the football. He was very accurate. It is really a shame that that happened and I don’t have a great answer on why. I know that we’re gonna go out there and battle tomorrow, figure out a way to put the best plan together we can to beat Colorado.”

On Arizona’s penalties Saturday, particularly false starts: “What they do is they stem their front leg very often. You can see right at the last second while you’re in the middle of your cadence, they move, and maybe they make a move call, maybe they don’t, but they they’re constantly moving. I think what happened was we just got flinchy. … You can’t do that. You have to hold your water. We practice it all week, but when it came down to it, when we were going tempo, you can’t stem so then therefore we weren’t having any issues, but when we were coming out of the huddle is when it got us.”

On Fisch’s confidence in the quarterback room: “As I will tell them tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon when I see him, Gunner (Cruz) won the quarterback job coming out of camp and Gunner started against BYU and completed 75% of his passes and threw for a lot of yards and moved the ball really well. I would expect him to continue to do that. I would hope that he learned from these last couple of weeks of watching in the same way that Jordan did. And with that, I’m hopeful we can do a good job of getting him ready to play these next seven games and go into Boulder and play really well.

On who will start at quarterback against Colorado: “Should McCloud not play, Gunner will be the starter.”

On Arizona’s struggles in the red zone: “You could always say it continues the pattern because we couldn’t get out of it, right? So, I think the best thing that happened today in terms of our red areas, we were 100% with field goals, which we haven’t been. So, in terms of scoring, we were four for four in the red area, which is the first time we’ve been 100% scoring in the red area. Now, of course, we hit one touchdown and three third down and longs. That’s what kills us. We had a third and 16 in the red area. We had a third and 11. And we wind up, you just take yourself out of the chance to even throw the ball in the area because of penalties. I think we had a penalty every time we stepped foot in the red area other than the one time we scored. If we don’t stop, doing those type of things, it’s going to make for long tough nights, and I think our guys know it. We just got to keep chopping wood and keep understanding that until we stop from losing, we’re not gonna start winning, and we’re work keeping ourselves (from winning) right now.”

On trick touchdown play to Joiner: “We had it up for this game and we felt the way they played as aggressive as they were that we would have had a chance at it. Looked like we made it harder than it needed to be though, right? Wasn’t it really open? I couldn’t see a replay but I was like oh my gosh it looked like (Wiley) had to make an outstanding catch.”

On the mood inside the locker room: “I think disappointed but not disheartened. I believe that they feel as if we’re just getting better. As I told the team, we’re better than we were against Oregon. We played better this time. And if we keep doing that, then at some point the tide turns and right now the tide, it hasn’t turned yet, but we have an opportunity next Saturday for it to turn. That’s what we’re gonna have to go out and do, and see if we can have our best week of practice yet and keep building it, but we got a lot of guys that believe and a lot of guys that want to be a part of planning the seed here for Arizona football in the future.”

On why the tide hasn’t turned yet: “I don’t know. I mean I could point to a few things in terms of, we turned it over in bad times, we had penalties at bad times, we certainly play our tails off. And usually when you play your tails off and you play with great effort, usually the football Gods work themselves out, but it doesn’t necessarily do it right away. And I think our guys just have to keep on battling, keep on competing and hopefully not look and worry about necessarily a losing streak.”