VIDEO: Mora on Saturday

Coach Jim Mora talks about the energy of the first day of pads, the injuries, including one suffered by a coach, Brett Hundley's progress and more...


JM: it was good energy. We had a great crowd. You know, we have our coaches clinic this weekend so we have about 200 high school and junior college coaches here from California and Arizona and places like that so they were getting close. First day of pads is always, to me, a little frustrating because you get accustomed to a certain tempo and a certain sense of urgency, and history always has told me that the first time you put the pads on, there's a little apprehension. It just slows things down just a little bit. And we'll push through that quickly though. I expect Monday night to be really good. Not that today was bad at all. It was just your kind of typical first day of pads. Feeling it out. How hard can I go? What does contact feel like? All those things. But we need to make sure we push through that really, really quickly and I think that our guys will. I thought Brett [Hundley] looked good today. Jordon James, you know, he had another good day. It's hard for me to pick guys out without looking at the film, but those guys… and Devin Lucien, he keeps kind of catching my eye. I don't know how you guys feel about that. If he catches your eye as well, but he does some …

Q: has he made it clear to you that he's coming for a starting job?

JM: I love his passion. I love his energy. His enthusiasm. He's got to be careful, you know, when he scored that touchdown, he threw the ball down. We can't have things like that. We've got to make sure that we're always playing with as much discipline as possible, but I love his energy. And I love his enthusiasm. He's out here, and he's trying hard.

A couple injury updates for today. Eric Kendricks, we saw him in the boot. It is a sprain. It's not anything more than just, you know, a mild to a significant sprain. I don't know when he'll be back, you know. Hopefully before the end of spring, but i can't tell you. If it was last year and we had an extra week, I'd probably tell you he'd be back but I don't know. We'll see.

Alberto Cid went out right at the start of practice. Took a shot to the head and was not feeling right so we removed him from practice.

Simon Goines wasn't out here this morning. He had some upper body, upper respiratory stuff going on and so we kept him inside.

Phillip Ruhl, we've got to rule out mononucleosis with him so he wasn't out here today.

Who else? You've got your list today.

Q: Dietrich [Riley]?

JM: Dietrich, god darn.

Q: Dietrich tweaked his shoulder?

JM: Yeah, he's in the red jersey. You know, we're easing him back into contact, and he got his arm caught in there, and I believe it was in one-on-one, and went down and he slightly separated his shoulder. I don't think that's going to be anything that holds him back much. He came back at the end of practice. He had the ice on it. So, you hate to see that with him because he's working so hard to get back on the field, but that's football sometimes.

Q: well, the one that's really key is how are you going to replace [Eric] Yarber?

JM: gosh, that was scary. You know, we thought that… initially, we went over there and we thought that he either dislocated his hip or knee. I mean, the way… first I thought… honestly, my first thought was, "Oh, no. Is he having a heart attack?" And then when i saw that it wasn't that… it looked bad. But I guess he just, "just", tore his tendon in his quad. So we were going to shoot it up and get his butt out back there Monday night. Gets no sympathy. No. Well, you know, you get a guy like Yar. You guys all watch out he's always demonstrating, he's always moving, he's making the cut. He's got to remember that he's almost 50 and his body doesn't work like an 18 to 20 year old anymore, and I think he learned that rather dramatically today. He'll be on the injury list.

Q: it's not our job to point that out to him. That's your job.

JM: I will be pointing that out to him.

Q: we just report what happens when you don't point it out to him.

Q: how did that play happen?

JM: we were just doing one-on-one, and so he was just demonstrating how to like, get out… I better be careful… he was just demonstrating getting off the line of scrimmage and he just went down. I really need to see the film of it.

Q: you know what somebody hollered at him from the stands when he came back in? "Million dollar route, 10 cent finish."

JM: people are not very nice.

Q: he laughed. He laughed.

JM: but it was a good Saturday morning. Now they'll get the rest of the day off. They'll get tomorrow off. We'll meet Monday morning and then we're back out here at 6 o'clock on Monday evening so they get almost 3 full days to recover a little bit from this first week. Next week, we change the schedule up. We go Monday evening at six. We go Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 7 AM and then we'll go Saturday at 10:30 again.

Q: you're thinking there's maybe a scrimmage next Saturday?

JM: probably more scrimmage-like situations, yes. Yes. That's the plan right now.

Q: what have you seen from Malcolm [Jones]? Can you tell that he's been out 8 months?

JM: yeah, I can, at times. He's just… There's an inconsistency right now that he's got to work through in terms of his pad level, more than anything. You know, when he lowers his pads and gets behind his pads, he can run with power. When he starts to stand up, you know at his size, he becomes an easy target. And so, I think what Malcolm needs is somebody just pissing him off every day. Because when he's mad, you know, when somebody gets in his crawl a bit and he runs angry, he's a different guy so we need to find that switch all the time.

Q: [Librado] Barocio was that switch today.

JM: yeah. Yeah, yeah, you saw that. Yeah. And so, i don't know. He has to learn how to play "angry" all the time. I don't mean be an angry person. I mean, when he comes out on the field, play with a little chip on his shoulder. Because when he does that, he's very effective. But when he doesn't, he's not as effective. But I'm encouraged. I'm glad he's back. We're all happy that he's back. His teammates like him. The coaches, we like him. I don't think anybody lost any respect for him. You know, given what transpired, leaving the team. kind of going through some tough times and coming back. I think everyone still respects him and wants him to do well.

Q: could you tell he was unhappy when he did leave the team?

JM: it was just… well, you know, Malcolm is a little hard to read. He'd been through a lot of different systems. He never, at least when he expressed to me, has felt like he was "used correctly". Didn't necessarily feel like he fit in our style of offense. I'm sure he was very discouraged, but you know, the grass is always greener. And he came to find out this is where he wanted to be. And I'm glad he is back. I wish, for his sake and for ours that he hadn't missed a whole year. You know, because like I said, we like the guy. And we want him to have success, but you know what? He's back. And so we'll put that behind us and just… you know, hope and pray and push and he'll have success.

Q: you guys count last year as a redshirt for him?

JM: we have to… well, he played six plays in that first game. So we have to go petition the NCAA which we will do here once…. Yeah…

Q: what have you seen from him so far in terms of mentality and work ethic, getting back out here?

JM: it's been good. You know… and he's at a little bit of a disadvantage because he didn't go through the winter conditioning program because he wasn't in school yet. So he was doing everything on his own. So even though he was working hard, he was working by himself so he didn't have the benefit of the competition with his teammates. But he seems to be good shape. You know, he's going to get better as he goes through spring. He's going to get better when we're done with spring and he gets into the rest of the spring workouts and the summer workouts. He doesn't look like he's fallen off a lot, you know.

Q: for this year, what's it been like having a whole cycle? Because you sort of came in at the end of last year, not able to have a whole winter. What was it like having a whole cycle this year?

JM: you mean, for like the workouts? Or just in general?

Q: yeah.

JM: it's been good. I mean, we came in in January… so I actually got here before the bowl game but kind of took over after the bowl game. And Coach [Sal] Alosi was hired immediately. So when we started our winter program, we were all together. But it was new. Everything… They were doing everything for the very first time. This year, it's much different. They understand the expectations. They know how we like to practice, how we like to do things. How to work in the weight room. How we meet. But you know, it's still important that we continue to push them. Because, you know, it's just human nature. Complacency starts to seep in. And so our job as coaches , is to make sure we're always pushing them, forcing them to break down barriers and fortunately, we've got a really good group of kids. You know, they want to be good. They want to be good individually. They want to be a great team. And they're easy to motivate, but you have to continue to motivate them. You have to keep pushing them. Because it's just human nature. They're not all internally motivated. And we'll keep doing that. But I like the fact that they understand the routine, but we can't allow anything to become routine. Does that make sense? Get that? Confucius says…

Q: I'm sorry. I stopped listening 20 minutes ago.

JM: yeah, I know you did. I saw you over there.

Q: I know it's only a few days in, but do you get the impression that this offense maybe is a little more pass heavy than it was last year just because you don't have Johnathan Franklin? Or do you still see yourself relying on the run…

JM: every game's different, but we like to be balanced. And by balanced, it doesn't mean a 50/50 split but when we have to run to win it, we want to be able to run to win it. When we have to throw to win it, we want to be able to throw to win it. I think that we'll try to maintain balance. I don't think that we'll become some pass-happy team unless we need to be. But i think between Jordon James and Steven Manfro and Paul Perkins and, you know, whomever else emerges from that backfield, that we're going to be able to run the football. And so much of running the football is your offensive line, your receivers getting down the field blocking, you know, how effective you are throwing the ball and backing people off. So… if we can do all those things, we'll be able to run the football.

Q: what's looked different about Jordon James on the film compared to last season?

JM: well, his hair. He cut off his Mohawk which I think was probably some type of statement from him. I don't know if you guys have asked me about it or not. You know, Jordon has exceptional quickness. Lateral quickness. And sometimes he would lean on that a little too heavily and dance. Rather than put his foot on the ground and go downhill. Now look, it's only been three practices so I don't want to get carried away, but I see him putting his foot on the ground and going downhill more now rather than moving laterally and trying to dance in the hole. When you dance in the hole at this level, these guys are too quick, they're too athletic, they catch you. You know. But he's got the quickness. If he can stick his foot and go, he can make things happen. After three practices, I've seen him do a better job of that.

Q: you're ready to name him your starting running back?

JM: well, we're a running back by committee.

Q: well, we don't hand Hundley the job of punter. [audio difficulties]

JM: some guy came up to me today and he goes, "God, your punter is not very good." No, you know what it was? It was Coach Vermeil.

Q: oh, it was?

JM: yeah. Coach Vermeil came over and he goes, "Hey Jim, what are you going to do about a punter? Your punter's not very good." I said, "Our punter's down probably right now surfing in Florida." Anyway…

Q: have you been paying any attention or following all the guys that have graduated and they're pursuing for the NFL? How has that been especially being on this side of the coin, now that you've had a year of kids and seeing how they're getting evaluated?

JM: it's cool. I love it. Like a bunch of them are out there today. When they have workouts here on campus, we try to, you know, get with them, we talk to the coaches, talk to the scouts. For me, it's pretty neat. I've never been on this side of it. I'm really excited for draft day to see where they go. If they don't get drafted, I'm really excited to try to help them get a placed where they can have a chance to have success. I'm excited for them because I know kind of what waits for them in there. And I know the challenges. And i see how hard they're working and how anxious they are and how eager they are and I'm glad that I have the NFL experience that I have, and our staff has, to be able to help them. Understand what's coming. Be able to talk to scouts and coaches about them and their strengths and weaknesses and how we see them developing at the next level. I've had multiple conversations with, you know, defensive line coaches and defensive coordinators about Datone [Jones ]. And running back coaches and offensive coordinators about Jet [Johnathan Franklin] and Joe [Fauria] and Jerry and Jeff Baca and those guys. So, I'm just fired up to see where they go. I can't wait to see them get a chance, and they're all working really hard. Really hard. And I mean… Sticks. He's 189 pounds now. Like, why couldn't you've done that offseason, you know? So, anyway… alright? Sorry to make you wait so long.

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