Jim Mora talks after Sunday's practice:
JM: It was what would be a typical Tuesday for us if we play on Saturday. They were locked in. A lot of energy. That's what you want to see. You guys have asked me a number of times during the last week, you know, "hurry up. Can the game get here fast enough? How do you keep them interested? Are they going to lose their focus?" If today's practice was any indication, they're locked in and ready go so that's a good sign for us. Because we need to have a good week this week going into the game. we're playing a tremendous opponent. Very capable on offense and so we have to be locked in.
Q: Brett [Hundley] said this is the most he's been able to kind of break down his own game, kind of work on correcting little things. How important has all these bowl practices been to him for developing for next year?
JM: I think they're really helpful. The first couple weeks, we weren't really working on Baylor. It was more just UCLA stuff. Trying to focus on fundamentals and technique. And in Brett's case, the mechanics of throwing the football and reading coverages. So a guy like that takes advantage of it, and so it's very helpful for him. It's been good extra work for our young guys especially.
Q: are there little things that you can see in him that he still needs…
JM: oh, God, yeah. He's got a million things to improve, but that doesn't mean he's not very good. He is very good, but he's a redshirt freshman who's played 13 games. He's a neophyte. There's not one area of his game that he can't improve, and there's not one area of his game that he won't improve. And that's what's so exciting. To see him play the way he is and know how much upside he still has. It's an awesome deal.
Q: what are the biggest strides he's going to make?
JM: his accuracy, his decision-making, his timing, his poise, his understanding of when it's time to take off and run, when to abort a play as opposed to sticking with it. Really, he's improved in all areas. He's got great command of our offense. He commands respect of his teammates. That guy right there… I'll be surprised. I'm not going to call him a Heisman Trophy contender for next year, but I will say that I believe his play over the course of the next couple years will make him a guy that people around the country say, "hey, why isn't this guy being talked about as one of the greatest players in college football?" If he continues to progress the way I think he can.
Q: he and [Johnathan] Franklin were just talking about their friendship. How close they were. As a coach, you must be thrilled that you've got this veteran guy who's kind of taken him under his wing.
JM: it's great. Johnathan's had so much success here, and he's done it the right way. You know he's just a quality kid with a great work ethic. Very grounded. Given all the success he's had, he's very grounded. So to have him as an influence on Brett who's just starting his career and looks like he's on a path to have the same type of success, just to have that influence of Johnathan around him, I think it's hard to duplicate. A coach can't tell him certain things that a guy like Johnathan can. So I think it's a great deal for UCLA. It's a tremendous deal for Brett.
Q: I know you weren't here, but when Johnathan had all those fumbling issues, can you tell that he's kind of been shaped by that?
JM: I've seen him fumble it one time, and it was this year. I never watched any of his film from the past.
Q: just mentally, do you...
JM: I don't know. I don't talk to him about it. I've never brought it up. I never will bring it up. That's not what you do with running backs. You don't talk about fumbling issues with running backs.
Q: what else is on the don't-talk-to-running-backs list?
JM: there's certain things you don't talk to certain players about. And that's one of the things you don't talk to running backs about.
Q: so you don't open with, "hey, Brett, that was a really lousy interception…"?
Q: I'm just taking notes. I might want to quote somebody.
JM: no, you don't want to do that. I might want to write some day though. I was the editor of my high school newspaper. Sports editor. Just want to let you guys know that.
Q: does that mean you're critiquing our stuff?
JM: no. I was awful.
Anyway, we're headed to the USS Boxer and it should be… everyone has told me that it's an amazing deal. My dad actually served in the Marines. Not on this USS Boxer, but there's, I think, been either 12 or 16. Maybe 8, 12, or 16, I can't remember the number, USS Boxers in our fleet. And he was on one of them. He was telling me in the Caribbean when he was in the Marine Corps, he's giving me the whole story yesterday so we looked it up and unless you were in the Marine Corps in 1993 when this was commissioned, and he wasn't so… The first was commissioned in 1812 [a captured British HMS Boxer].
Q: so was he on that one?
JM: My son said, "grandpa, were you on the one in 1812?" So yeah… so…
Q: sorry I stepped on your punchline.
JM: so anyway, it'll be fun for us.
VIDEO: Mora on Sunday
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