The disappointment was palpable as Johnathan Franklin answered questions at the post-game press conference with glassy eyes and a heavy heart following UCLA’s 27-24 loss to Stanford.
The redshirt senior running back had what was arguably his best performance of the season, gashing the nation’s best-run defense for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Before the game, the most rushing yards Stanford gave up in one outing was 198 yards to Oregon.
As he does in every press conference, Franklin refused to take credit for his performance, passing the praise on to his teammates.
“All credit goes to the offensive line. They did a great job to open up big holes and I just ran through them,” Franklin said. “The receivers did a great job of blocking down field. Brett (Hundley) did a good job carrying out things. Kudos to those guys.”
While Franklin refused acclaim, his effort against Stanford was the cherry on top of an unbelievable senior season and career.
Franklin was already the all-time rushing leader for UCLA, but he added his name to the record books once again when he set the single-season rushing record on the second drive of the game. Franklin also moved into first place on UCLA’s career all-purpose yardage list over Maurice Jones-Drew.
“Johnathan is a hard runner, he’s a guy that’s tough to bring down,” coach Jim Mora said. “If you can get him to the second level, get him in space, he’s very effective. I thought our guys did a nice job doing that for him tonight.”
Slip and slide
Mora insisted since the start of the season that weather is not a factor when it comes to competition, but heavy rain for the several days before the game along with consistent precipitation during the game led to a slick field. UCLA’s offense, which relies heavily on open field running, took a bit of a blow with Franklin, freshman receiver Devin Fuller and several other Bruins all falling victim to the field conditions.
“Everyone was slipping all over the place,” said junior linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. “It hurt us a few times but I really think it affected everyone equally.”
Stanford’s redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan was named the MVP of the game after throwing for 155 yards and a touchdown while adding 47 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“He’s an impressive kid, he’s very poised,” Mora said. “He’s careful with the ball, he makes good decisions when he’s on the move and I think they did a nice job using him as a runner tonight as well.”
Hogan’s most impressive play came in the fourth quarter on a third and 15 from UCLA’s 26-yard line when he found receiver Drew Terrell wide open in the back of the endzone despite huge pressure from UCLA’s junior defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
“There was a communication breakdown,” Mora said. “We busted the coverage at a very inopportune time.”