- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria -- never one to be shy with words -- took a few minutes to chat with the Pac-12 blog this week about his college career, his future as a professional, and offered up a very politically correct answer about the Mackey Award.
You guys were very emotional after the Pac-12 title game. Have you put that one behind you and moved on?
Joseph Fauria: Yeah. It takes a few days. It took me a few days to get over it. But as soon as we found out we had Baylor, we moved on to the next challenge and we're looking forward to finishing off the season with a win.
What's the feeling like heading into a bowl game this year versus last year?
JF: I think there were a few guys last year that didn't want to be there. They just wanted to graduate. But I think it was a good decision to play that game in the end. We got some extra practices in and that was a good thing. This year, we had a better season, obviously. More wins and a better overall feeling. Our team is really close and we're going to get a lot of fans in San Diego.
Was there a feeling that guys were going through the motions last year?
JF: I don't want to get too much into last year. We're focused on what we've done this year and all of the guys are ready to send the seniors out right and hopefully we get a 10-win season.
Certainly a strong argument can be made that you deserved to be a finalist for the Mackey Award. Offering a tight end's perspective, do you think they got the right guy in Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert?
JF: Sure. I don't know him too well. He came in right after I left Notre Dame. I congratulate him. I'm pumped for him. He's on one of the best teams -- maybe the best team in the country right now. He's had a good career and good numbers and I'm excited for him. It's cool. Props to him.
What's the legacy of the 2012 UCLA team?
JF: It's special. After last year, it was a rough culture. We weren't a very good team. We didn't have a good outlook. But as a senior class and with the new coaches, we changed the whole culture of the program. We were determined to get the young guys ready for the change of tradition and the change of culture and bringing UCLA back to glory. That almost feels better than coming into a team that was winning and already had success. I think it's a better feeling to change a team. I think that's better than going to a BCS bowl game.
As you look ahead to your professional career -- not too far though, since you do have one game left -- do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to as a player at the college level?
JF: My career didn't go as I planned it out of high school. I thought I was going to play right away -- that's how everyone always thinks it's going to be. But I struggled with one school then sat out, then got hurt and then finally had a breakout season last year and I think I capped it off pretty well. Like I said earlier, we're changing the culture. It was great to help the team have success and I think I showed what I can do in the red zone and show that I can be a next-level tight end and show that I can be successful.
If you could sum up UCLA's season in one word, what would it be.
JF: (Very long pause) I think if we can get this 10th win, we have to be considered one of the best UCLA teams that's ever played. I know that's not one word, but I like that so I'll stay with that.
1dChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell