JM: it was a good practice. I think this is… it's good that it's a short week. I think if we were playing the same team on a long week, it'd be a little bit more difficult to stay locked in and focused because they're anxious to play again, and I'm sure Stanford probably feels the same way. But had a good day today. Get another one tomorrow and then walkthrough on Thursday. Go up there, and let it roll.
Q: can you go into detail a little bit more, coach, about the advantages and the disadvantages of playing a team so soon?
JM: Any advantage that we have, they have. Any disadvantage that we have, they have as well. So what I think that it comes down to is tweaking your plan a little bit to try to get your players in the best position possible off of what you learned in the previous week. Anticipating that they're going to the tweak some things as well. Calling a good game and then going out executing. Executing as coaches. Making the right calls in the right situations and then counting on our players to go out and play hard and execute what we ask them to do.
Q: have you noticed a certain anxiety among your players? They've always kept a very even keel, but this is really even more exciting.
JM: well, they're excited, but you know what I respect about these kids is we've asked them to come out here and be the same guy every day. And that's a hard thing to do and it's never going to be exactly how you want it, but they really attempt to do that. They attempt to come out here every day with the same type of focus, with the same type of energy, the same type of intensity… And I think they do a pretty darn good job at all.
Q: what are some of the changes, looking from week to week that you had to make this week, the second time around?
JM: we had to adjust our practice schedule up because it's one shorter day so we weren't able to take an entire day off and evaluate that last game. We just had to move… today is Tuesday. It's like a Wednesday for us. Tomorrow [Wednesday] will be like a Thursday for us.
Q: I mean, I'm talking more or less about the game plan…
JM: I'm not going to talk specifically about our game plan. C'mon, man. You're trying to get me, aren't you?
Q: what about psychologically? I mean, you guys took some lumps. How hard is it to get them confident, knowing they could be on the same field?
JM: I think one of the things about being a young man, like these guys are, is you get over things quick. I haven't seen confidence be a problem with us just because we had some success this year. And the two games we lost previously, we've been able to come back and get a good win. Not necessarily an easy win but a good win. So I think that's given them confidence going forward. So I don't think it'll be an issue. I think they're amped up and ready to go.
Q: coach, how surprised…or are you surprised at the amount of success in just your first year here?
JM: well, I'm not "surprised". I haven't really sat down and thought of it in those terms. My goal specifically is to every day just try to be a little bit better than the previous day. Whether it's on the practice field, in the meeting room, or as a team. So I think we're doing a pretty good job of that. I don't think we're perfect, but at the end of this whole thing after the bowl game, whatever bowl game it is, I'll sit down and think about the big picture.
Q: what about the maturity level of these young men? Has that surprised you?
JM: Yes that has surprised me. Yes. But I didn't know what to expect. But I've seen them become a more and more mature football team as we've gone through this thing. And that's been impressive and that's just a real credit to them.
Q: can I ask you some of the changes you have made? Are you confident that will translate to a better result on Friday?
JM: I'm hopeful that they will. That the changes we made will translate into better results. Yeah. I'm very hopeful of that. I'd like to win this game. That would be a real good thing for us.
Q: which changes do you think will have the best chance to…
JM: we just have to play better. We have to coach better. We have to put our players in better position to make plays and then they got to go out and make plays. That's what we're trying to do.
Q: would it be sweet to play for the Rose Bowl?
JM: well, we are playing for the Rose Bowl. So it is sweet, yeah, but our focus is on Stanford. We talked about that as a team yesterday. I'll tell you this. I had the chance to play in 2 Rose Bowls. And the Rose Bowl experience is a wonderful experience, but the more memorable experience for me was the game that got us to the Rose Bowl. The emotion in the locker room after the win. Those were the special times. So that's what we're hoping to experience.
Q: with the types of teams UCLA is and Stanford is, how does rain affect this matchup?
JM: that's a great question, and I don't necessarily know the answer. I think you can look at it two ways. You know they're kind of a "pound it",physical, "grind it out" team. And I think that, you know, on one hand you could say that might be an advantage. But I've also been in games where a team that spreads it out a little bit more like we do, and gets playmakers in the open field and creates one-on-one matchups sometimes has an advantage could you make a guy miss on a slippery field and you got some ground that you can gain. So I don't know. I guess we'll see when it plays out on Friday night.
Q: throughout your coaching career, have you ever played the same team twice?
JM: every year, yeah. Every year because in the NFL you play in a division so there's…
Q: I mean in consecutive weeks.
JM: I don't know. I haven't had the time to go back and look at that.
Q: I did. You haven't.
JM: I haven't? Because you know what? You're a heck of a journalist and you do your homework before you come out here and I thank you for that, and no I haven't [had back-to-back games against the same team].
Q: that's actually on my business cards.
JM: that you're a heck of a journalist?
Q: heck of a journalist… I do my homework before coming out here.
JM: I appreciate you doing your homework like that. No, I haven't [had back-to-back games against the same team].
Q: [audio difficulties]
JM: Oh, I saw the list. I was excited for our guys that were recognized by the conference. I think it's great for them to get that recognition. I think they deserve it.
Q: [audio difficulties]
JM: I don't like to talk about snubs. I think that, you know, the guys that made it, I'm happy for. The guys on the other teams that made it, I'm happy for them as well.
Q: coach, with Owa [Odighizuwa] playing a little bit more last week as a fourth defensive lineman, how have you see that transition for him? He's played a couple different positions, left end, right end, this year.
JM: I've been impressed. I've been impressed with Owa's ability to adapt week in and week out to the things that we asked him to do. And you're right. Going from the right side to the left side is not always easy. But he's kind of our swing guy and he's done a good job of that. And then last week, asking him to play that pseudo-outside linebacker position, he did a good job. He's a guy that studies really hard. We'll walk out of meetings in the late afternoon, and he'll be sitting there waiting for coach [Jeff] Ulbrich [Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach] to spend another half hour with him trying to figure out ways to be better at that position. So he's an impressive kid.
Q: you think he's gained a noticeable amount of confidence throughout the season?
JM: Owa? I think he has. I think he should. He's played well for us. He's done some really good things. He's a good player. I like the way that he… he's always been very physical but he's become much more aware and a much better technician and I'm just excited to see where he takes it.
Alright? Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it.