Mora's Sunday Teleconference

Jim Mora updates the media on Greg Capella and Jeff Baca, talks about the offensive tempo against OSU, and discusses how the team needs to bounce back...

Q: Looking at the tape, what were you able to see with what was going on in the secondary for you guys yesterday?

A: In regards to what?

Q: With the coverage. There were a couple of deep balls that you guys gave up.

A: We gave up one deep ball and we gave up one slant that we took a bad entry angle on and they outran us for a touchdown.

Q: Was Sheldon Price supposed to get help over the top on that?

A: On which one? The slant?

Q: Yes.

A: No, we were in a defense where he was on his own. He was supposed to have help in the middle of the field. And, when a guy got inside him and caught a slant, he tried to undercut it. He should have stayed on the up field shoulder and tried to make a tackle. And then when he tried to undercut it, the guy cut it up the seam and we had not an ideal angle out of the middle to get it down. That should have been a 15 to 18 yard gain that turned into a touchdown. And then the other one was a deep pass, where they went over the top. We've done a good job up to this point of defending the deep ball, and they got one in on us. We've got to redouble our efforts to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Q: That was Tevin McDonald that was supposed to have the good angle on the slant?

A: I don't remember. It was whoever the middle safety was.

Q: 72 yards rushing on Saturday, well below your season average. What were they doing up front to contain your running game?

A: They weren't doing anything special. You remember how we talked last week and Houston was bringing extra guys and penetrating? They were not doing that. They were playing us pretty much straight up in terms of not stunting and not blitzing and things like that. They were playing safeties tight. They were playing almost a nine man front. I think, bottom line, is we struggled to move people off the line of scrimmage yesterday in the run game. We knew going in, like I talked about with you guys all this week, that this was a very good defensive football team and a good defensive front. That proved to be true. We struggled to move people at the point of attack and get some cut off blocks. It was uncharacteristic of how we've been able to execute in the run game this year. We've got to make sure we get that squared away.

Q: I know you don't want to attribute everything to Jeff Baca being out, but with him out, it does change what you can do up front right?

A: Here's the thing about that. I would say this. It's less about depth, and more about having the opportunity to prepare during the week. Unfortunately, because of circumstances this week, we weren't able to get the two guys who played that position in the game any work at all, because earlier in the week we were getting Greg Capella work, and when he went out and Jeff was scheduled to play, Jeff had catching up to do, so we had to give Jeff the work. I mean, I think everyone on our team is capable of going out there and performing and helping us win. But I think it's really difficult for the player when they don't get any work or they get minimal work during the week and then have to go in and play. Now it's expected of them. But it is difficult, especially against a really good front like Oregon State's. So, not an excuse, we've still got to be better. But it was certainly a factor. I hope that answers your question. I have confidence in those guys, it's just unfortunate they didn't get the work and they were thrown in to do it. If this was the NFL, I'd be less inclined to say that, it's more like "too bad, you're a pro, go do it." But we're not dealing with professional athletes here. We're down to an area in our depth chart where guys just don't get a lot of work. It's just impossible, or you'd be out on the field all day.

Q: Given how it's been a couple of weeks now with Jeff, is there any chance he's going to be available this week to play?

A: I think we'll have a much better idea tomorrow, and hopefully a very clear picture of what the future is for him tomorrow.

Q: Was the tempo on offense yesterday as good as you'd like it to be?

A: The tempo was OK. The problem is that the tempo doesn't look like the tempo should look when you're going three and out. You're not stringing together eight or nine play drives. The tempo and the rhythm were good, it just doesn't look good when you're not stringing together drives. We only had 70 plays, they had 76. That's the fewest plays we've had, but some of that was due to the fact that we weren't putting together drives, and some of that was due to the fact that Oregon State did an excellent job slowing down the game. They were snapping the ball inside of ten seconds, sometimes inside of five, most of the game. We need to do a better job of getting off the field on third down defensively so we can get our offense the ball. But with regards to the tempo, yeah. And I was talking to Noel today, and I think we have to realistic as coaches about just how fast we can go, given the fact that we've got a freshman quarterback, two freshman tackles, and a freshman center, and making sure that they see things the right way before the ball is snapped. I think that sometimes you've got a tendency, if you were so inclined, to get so carried away with tempo rather than execution. If we make such a huge huge emphasis on tempo, rather than execution, we don't give our guys a chance to diagnose the defense before the ball is snapped, then I think we're making a mistake. That's a very long answer for a very short question. I apologize. I get a little long winded on occasion.

Q: How did the play cards work out?

A: I don't know, we haven't talked about that yet. I think they worked fine. I think we can function well without them. It might just be a…I don't know. I'll let you know when I talk to Noel about it. That was the least of our worries, the placards. And let's refer to them as placards, not play cards. Let's make sure we're all on the same page regarding that verbiage.

Q: On the film, when you were looking at the ball where Sheldon was called for the PI, did you feel that was borderline, or did he grab him?

A: I think it's a really tough play for a corner, I've always felt like that. When you're in bump and run and you've got your hands on the guy…he played it perfectly, in terms of how you're supposed to play it at the line of scrimmage. And then they take a one step drop and throw a fade. That's always been one of my pet peeves with the rules of football. You know I'm kind of a defensive back minded kind of guy. You could call pass interference on every play if every time a guy was in bump and run you took a one step fade, because they're going to have their hands on the receiver if they're doing their job, and I think that was the case right there. And by rule, I guess you have to call it. My problem is that there is no way to teach around it if you're going to be a bump and run team. So, it happens. It happens to everybody in the NFL. And if you coach defensive backs, it's one of those things that we get together and we talk about , you know, just "how can this be an enforceable rule? How can we have bump and run as a part of our game plan if everything we put our hands on a guy, they do a one-step fade and throw the flag?" It's just one of those situations where, was it called correctly? Yes, it was called correctly. Did Sheldon play it right? Yeah, you couldn't coach him to play it any differently. It's just an unfortunate situation.

Q: You guys are nearly at the bottom in third down conversions, is there anything particular you're seeing that's happening on third downs?

A: Are you talking about offense or defense?

Q: Offense.

A: I don't really pay attention to where we are in national rankings, I try to take it one game at a time. This week we were 2 of 15, which obviously is not very good. We got ourselves into some third and long situations. When you're struggling to run the ball on early downs, you're going to get yourself into some situations on third down that are tough to convert. So I think it goes back to early downs. I guess against Nebraska is when we were at our best, 9 of 20. We were 5 of 17 last week, and then 2 of 15 this week. And then against Rice, 2 of 11. So we've had a couple of games where we've really struggled, and I guess that's affected our overall…you have to always go back to first and second down and see how that affects third down. And then being able to execute on third down, block it up, run good routes, execute down the field, put the ball where it's supposed to be, just all those things.

Q: The 24 hour rule that your guys are big on after games, is that a little bit harder to do after a loss? Do you tend to look at losses a little harder?

A: Well, I know it is for me. I don't know about for the kids. I'm not one of those coaches who's ever going to say, "Hey, let's just forget about it, let's move on." I think you've got to let it seep in. It's got to hurt for a while, because you put so much effort into these games. And, if you just dismiss it, you miss a chance to learn the lessons that you need to learn. But I don't want it to linger. There comes a point in time where you've got to move past it and you've got to focus on the next game, or you're hindering your ability to play well the next game. For us, you know, we say 24 hours, but this week because our schedule changes, we won't be able to look at the film with the kids until tomorrow morning at 7 AM. So really it's more like a 36 hour rule or a 38 hour rule this week. It's really just the philosophy that once you've looked at the film, once you've made the corrections, and learned from them, then it's time to move to the next game and get your focus on the next game to make sure you apply those corrections.

Q: Does that get harder for kids after a loss?

A: I don't know, I don't think so. I think these kids are pretty resilient. It's our job to move them past it. But I don't know. This is our first loss, and I haven't been around this team after a loss. I'm hopeful. And I think given what I know about these kids that we'll be able to move past it and get on to the next one. You don't want to do it too soon though, and you don't want to wait too long. It's tricky.

Q: Capella, concussion?

A: Capella concussion. He's still being evaluated, and he was not at the game, as you saw. I do not have an update on him as of yet. I hope to know something by tomorrow or Tuesday. We really need to know something so we can plan. Hopefully he'll be OK. But as you guys know, with head injuries, we've got to make sure we're erring on the side of caution.

Like I said yesterday, it was really disappointing. What I was really careful to look for hard toward the end of the game was body language and effort. I kind of always do that when we're in a game like that where it's tough. We fought to the end , our guys had good body language. There wasn't a lot of bad body language out there. I could see that we believed we would have a chance to get it done. So those are good things. I didn't see guys giving in or giving up at all. I didn't feel a negative vibe on the sidelines at all. A lot of disappointment in the locker room. Really quiet. Everyone took it very seriously, and I think those are all signs we're looking for going forward.

Q: Did you feel like you took the Arizona State job this week, with the weather?

A: Wow. It was beautiful out there, it was hot. This campus is a buzzing now, with school starting this week. I'm looking out the window in my office and there's just kids everywhere. This'll be a little different this week as well, we've got to manage this, with the schedule change and classes starting. It's going to be a little different so we've got to do a good job of staying focused and balancing all the things that these guys have got to get done this week.

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