USC went up big and then held on late — thanks in no small part to five total touchdowns from quarterback Caleb Williams — to beat Cal at the L.A. Coliseum Saturday night, 41-35. After the game, coach Lincoln Riley met with reporters to recap how things played out.

Here’s everything he said, with video of the press conference below:

Opening statement

“Win No. 8. Reminded the guys in the locker room, 11 months ago we came out to a practice and watched a game with our future team and a lot’s changed since then. I think first and foremost for our team, whether this is years down the road and we had a great season and won the national championship before, or you’re in Year 1 coming off 4-8 the previous year, the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to appreciate winning. Winning is hard. For us, our program, our players, finding ways to do that is still paramount. So I’m extremely proud of the win.

“We had to finish it in a way that obviously we didn’t want, but that’s just part of it. Very proud to get to the eighth win here. Very important for us as a program.

“We didn’t play our best, really on any of the sides. Didn’t have a very good first half offensively, and did not finish the game well defensively. Made some big special teams plays, but also gave up a few, especially the onside kick. Obviously, a lot to improve on. We know we’re going to have to improve. If you can improve by winning, you’ll be there in the end, and in my experience with these things, you get to the end and nobody remembers how. You either found a way to win them, or you didn’t, and the reality is this team is 8-1 with everything in front of us.

“We got a big week coming up in terms of a short week and being able to operate that way. We have our first challenge of playing on six days. We’ll need to face that well and get ready for the next challenge and try to go get win number nine.”

On the biggest defensive differences between the first and second half

“We had a couple breakdowns and we had an obvious breakdown on the screen and go. I felt like we had some momentum, like we were getting to the passer, we stopped the run early in the half, and it felt like we kept bailing them out with penalties. We had several pass interference penalties that were big — one down there in the low red zone that was a huge play. It kind of felt like they really didn’t have anything going and when you give a team momentum like that, you’re kind of asking for them to take advantage of it and they did. I thought there towards the end of the game we didn’t tackle the way we did in the first three quarters of the game. We did some really good things defensively, but obviously didn’t finish anywhere close to the way we expect to play.”

On how to improve defensively with UCLA and Notre Dame coming up

“You just keep working the same way we have from Day 1. We keep working and we keep pushing to get our guys healthy that haven’t been. All sides of the ball, we’ve been playing without a lot of key guys. We’ve asked a lot of guys to step up — two of those guys are here in this room. They’ve stepped up and done some really good things for us, but you’ve got to continue to improve this time of year. You’ve got to continue to grind and push them on the practice field, which we will do, and we gotta be ready to play our very best here in the end.”

On how to get to a complete game performance

“We’re closer than we or probably anybody else thinks to doing that, but you gotta go do it. The margin of error or kind of the margin from where we are right now to doing that is very thin. There’s not a huge difference. There’s a handful of key plays in the game that we simply have got to make more of and that’s on all three sides.

“We had some opportunities. Getting all the stops early, we had some opportunities offensively where we could have really separated and we didn’t. Then obviously defensively we had some opportunities in the second half to put it away, and we didn’t. Listen, if you’re winning, you’re doing more good than bad. We’ve just got to do more good and we got to continue to eliminate some of the bad football that has held us back from playing our best.”

On WR Michael Jackson III and WR Tahj Washington

“They’re two really competitive players, two guys who have made an impact, not only on offense but on special teams. They’re two guys that right at the beginning when we started, they weren’t necessarily at the top of the depth chart or guys that were getting a lot of opportunities, and they’ve hung in there and they’ve continued to work, continued to improve. Those guys are kind of evidence of what we need to be as a team. You keep improving, and then those opportunities show up and you’re ready. Really proud of this guy (Jackson), proud of Tahj. With some players out we needed guys to step up, and they’ve done it in a big way.”

On whether he senses complacency

“I haven’t on the practice field. I wasn’t real enthused about how we started the game, but I didn’t feel any complacency. I honestly felt like we started playing pretty good there at the end of the half. It felt like we were starting to squeeze them down at the beginning of the second half and I think the guys were really wanting to separate and just kind of go knock them out. We couldn’t quite get over the hump, and I sensed some frustration a little bit at times.

“We gotta get past that. This is college football. Those other teams we play, they’ve got coaches and players too. So we got to get past whatever it is, but I don’t sense complacency. We practice hard. They continue to listen and respond to the ways that we challenge them, so we just gotta get better.

On Jackson’s fit in the offense

“He attacks the ball. He’s got confident hands. Sometimes you see wideouts that their hands aren’t as confident, so they maybe hesitate a little bit to make sure they catch it. He really rips through the ball. He’s good after the catch, he runs hard, and he runs aggressive. Some guys you see they’re just running to get what they can get. Some guys run as the aggressor, like, ‘I’m going to get mine.’ And he runs like that. That’s what makes him a good receiver and a good punt returner.”

On whether he wants to try and hold injured players who might be close to a return out to save for tougher contests later

“Oh, there’s no save. There’s zero save. If any of those guys could have played tonight, they would. They were medically not ready to go. We think we’re close to getting some of them back. We don’t hold back for anybody, that’s not our mentality here. If we’re playing Los Angeles Middle School next week, we’re going to try to have as many as we can.”

On WR Jordan Addison

“He’s very close. As the week went on, towards the end of the week we knew he probably wasn’t going to be able to go. If he did, (he’d be) on a pitch count. He was not ready to play.”