Mora Press Conference

The coach had his weekly press conference on Sunday for the Pac-10 Championship game, talking about playing Stanford a second time in six days...


JM: it is a quick turnaround. I think that's a good thing. To just get onto the next one. And the next one is the PAC-12 Championship Game which we're really excited about having the opportunity of playing. We've put ourselves in this position through a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication by these players, and I'm really proud of what they've accomplished all year. We're excited to go out on Friday night and compete for the championship of this conference. In order to do that, we had to put yesterday behind us but still learn from it. Most of the players have already looked at the film. We'll meet with them a little bit later today and start moving forward. It's a really interesting scenario, playing a team twice in a row, really, within 6 days. I was asked that yesterday if I've ever done that before and I can't ever recall ever being in this situation before. I don't know if it benefits either team or is hard on any team. It just comes down to going out on Friday night and just executing. Any familiarity we have with them, they'll have with us. So I think it just kind of negates each other. So I don't know. We'll see. It'll be fun to go up there and play. Our guys were disappointed, but I asked them to get over it quickly. And it seems that they have. We've got to get going. So, it'll be fun. It's an exciting week for us. What we've worked all year to get towards.

Q: you can't anticipate the advantage it's going to give them. It obviously must give you an advantage in setting your game plan in matching up against them. You just saw them last week. You have it all on tape.

JM: but it's the same for them. So I think it just cancels each other out. I don't know, you know. I've never been in this before so I don't know what the advantages and disadvantages are. Certainly it's correct, we get to watch them. We get to watch how they play us and the things that we need to do better and maybe what their game plan was against us. But at the same time, they can do the same thing. We don't want to read too much into it. You don't want to get too tricky. You want to go out and do what you do best and do it the best that you can do it. I think that's the most important thing that we can do this week.

Q: how does it compare to the NFL where you play your division teams twice in a season?

JM: well, there's more time between the games obviously. But you can become very familiar with those teams. You'll see patterns. You'll see certain plays that they only run against you. Or certain coverages that they only play against you. Or they tweak the play against you. So there's some similarities in that respect. But this 6 day window makes it really interesting. Because typically what you do after a game is you come in, you create a film from the previous day's game, and then you start looking at your opponent's film from their previous day's game. Well, it's the same film right now. So we've looked at 4, 5, 6 games of them, leading into yesterday's game, then now we just added this one to it. We're getting to see ourselves against them. It's just unique.

Q: what does this say about the overall strength of this conference? That before the season, Oregon and USC were prohibitive favorites to be in this [championship] game but neither one of them is here. They both had good seasons, but other teams have stepped up and stepped past them.

JM: I think it's a great conference. And I've said that all year. Let's start with Oregon. They're 11-1 and just an outstanding football team. Oregon State beat us earlier in the year, and I think Oregon State's an outstanding football team. We're getting a chance to play against Stanford in the conference championship. So those teams from the north have really established themselves this year. And then in the south, I think we've had a good season to this point. USC has. I know it's been a disappointing season for them but they're still a good football team. They're not happy with their record obviously, but I don't think that anyone's that seen them play can doubt that they're not a good football team. Both Arizona schools… it's a good conference. We're all good schools. Utah… I don't want to leave anybody out because it's a great conference.

Q: going to divisional play, does that allow the teams to maybe wash clean a bad game earlier in the year because if you had regular standings, you would've finished 2 games out. And then maybe you're able to overcome those bad losses a little easier.

JM: I don't know if that's why they did this or not. I'm not sure why they structured the conference the way they did. Maybe it's this way to have a conference championship game. But it's certainly, the way you put it, had we not been in this scenario, you're right, we'd be 2 games out. And now we have a chance on Friday to win the conference.

Q: does it make losses less devastating?

JM: losses sting. It doesn't matter…

Q: so you don't look at the bigger picture?

JM: losses kill you. They kill you. This one is one that different because I'll tell you from a personal standpoint because they stick with you forever, and this one, boy, you better purge it quick because there's a really big one coming up on Friday night.

Q: any negative to the 6 days?

JM: I don't know because everything cancels each other out. Because whatever is a positive for us is a positive for Stanford. Whatever potentially is negative for us is potentially negative for Stanford. I think it cancels each other out. I don't know how to play it. It's unique. It's new. It's a whole new experience for me and I think it's interesting. It'll be fun how it all plays out. All that aside, it still comes down to this: we have to go up there on Friday and we have to execute, we have to play hard, we have to tackle, we have to cover, we have to complete passes and get down the field. I know it sounds like a bunch of coachspeak, but that's what football is. It's executing on the field on Saturday, regardless of who is playing and what they do. So that's what we have to focus on. We can't worry about what they saw out of us yesterday or what we saw. We just have to go play our game and play it well.

Q: what did you see in the film?

JM: without getting too specific, Chris, we needed to tackle better. We needed to block better. Catch the ball better. We didn't play as well as we're capable of playing yesterday. And I don't want to take anything away from Stanford because that's an outstanding football team. Big, physical, they're tough, they're very well coached, and they were the better team yesterday. But we didn't play as well as we could. They had something to do with that, certainly. And we had something to do with that.

Q: is it something that matters schematically that needs tweaking or is it effort that needs tweaking?

JM: not effort. Our effort was good. I wouldn't say it was maniacal which I wanted it to be. But it was good. Scheme needs to be tweaked. As coach, the first place you always look when you suffer defeat is yourself. And so we did that. We always do that. We try to find ways if we can put our players in a better position to have success. That's your job as a coach is to help your players have success on the field. And if we're not doing that, we're not doing a good job. So we're always trying to find the best way possible.

Q: what did you see out of Stepfan Taylor in that power run game that maybe you need to adjust to and make sure that's different?

JM: they're just big up front. They get on you and maul you. And when you give up 220 yards rushing, it's hard to believe you did a good job against the run, but we did do some good things against the run. They popped some that were just devastating for us. So they got us. But there's a couple of tweaks we can make that hopefully can help us. Along the same lines that they can make some tweaks as well. It'll be a game of cat and mouse.

Q: same team, same players, same coaches. But this game has meaning. Has championship in it. How does that change things?

JM: I know it'll juice up the adrenaline. I know it will for our team. We're excited about it. These guys worked incredibly hard since really the first day of the offseason program in the winter to get to this point. And they've accomplished a lot. They've done everything that we asked. I'm really proud of them. I'm really proud to be a part of this team. And they're excited about it. They have a chance to realize their dreams on Friday night. To become a champion.

Q: how does the disrupt the [audio difficulties] week in/week out strategy… guys are getting film here. Interviewed left and right… I mean…

JM: I think if you can compartmentalize it… it's great for the kids to do it. As long as we can compartmentalize it, and when we're in meetings, focus, and when we're on the field, focus and get good work done that way. I think it's okay. I think we'll get most of it done earlier in the week. And hopefully it doesn't affect the players. But I can do my share to deflect it from them.

Q: coach, what does Kevin Hogan do for them? How did they change their team once he was established as the starter?

JM: they didn't change a whole lot structurally. He's a really good decision maker as you guys saw last night. He's poised. We put decent pressure on him and he made some tight throws. I said it earlier last week. It's a cliché word that he plays within himself. He understands the strengths and weaknesses and his coaching staff certainly understands his strengths and weaknesses which every player has. And they do an excellent job of accentuating his strengths. The way they match their run game with their play-action game. The way they get him on the edge a little bit. I was impressed with his ability to run the football, especially up the middle and get those extra jobs. I was impressed with that last night.

Q: the "less than maniacal" behavior…

JM: effort…

Q: do you have something that you can put your thumb on about that? Why that wasn't there?

JM: no. It was good effort. I would not criticize our effort at all. Our players played hard. And played with a lot of heart. We're looking for extraordinary every time we step out. And may be unreasonable because if it's extraordinary every time we step out, then it becomes ordinary. But I'm always going try to demand what I call "maniacal effort" for these guys.

Q: was it maniacal against USC?

JM: I don't know. That was a long time ago.

Q: [audio difficulties]. What was your impression of the Stanford program, living so close to there?

JM: I've never really paid a whole lot of attention to it. I mean, as a general fan of football I have. My dad coached there for a year with John Ralston. But I was really young so I've never been that close to that program. I've always had a lot of respect for what they've done. What Tyrone [Willingham] did, what Jim [Harbaugh] did and now what David [Shaw] is doing. They just continue to get good smart players in there and they do a heck of a job with them.

Q: do you think part of the reason they had so much success in the PAC-12 is because of how different they might be from a lot of the other teams? Obviously, they're not spreading out. They put 8 offensive lineman. Being that different being an advantage in the conference?

JM: possibly. You're right. Their style of play offensively is a little bit different from what you typically see in this conference. I think what's most important though is they do a good job of playing to their strengths. They know who they want to be. They recruit that type of athlete and they play that type of game. Every one of their players has bought into their approach and you see a real commitment. So I think that's what's important. Whoever you're going to be, be that guy. Be it every single day, and they do that.

Q: trend of the spread is it creates a situation where teams are pretty defensive players for the spread and then you run into this?

JM: it could be. Because you're faced with the prospect of a lot of speed on the field against these spread teams. So you have to match speed with speed. Sometimes when you're recruiting to match speed with speed and then you get into a game where you've got to match strength or brute or size with size, if you don't have the ability to put some guys on the field that can match the size, it can be difficult for them. In the ideal world, you have big fast guys.

Q: want to hear my version of that game?

JM: are we good? Okay. Have a great Sunday.

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