VIDEO: Mora on Wednesday

Jim Mora talks about the benefits of the newly purchased sound system at practice and then talks at length about UClA in the NFL Draft...

Jim Mora talks on Wednesday:


JM: we'll come out here on Thursday (tomorrow) without pads on. So that was really our last heavy, heavy duty practice before Saturday night. And it was a good practice. Got a lot of work done again. We've altered practice a little bit, but it hadn't cut down on our work. We've stayed out here for a long time so we're getting a lot of good stuff done.

Kylie [Fitts] was back. Keenan Graham's doing well. Let me think, someone else was back. Who else was back? Oh, Colby Cyburt's making a lot of progress. Ellis [McCarthy] is working into drills again. So we're getting some guys back so I'm excited about where they'll be when we start summer camp up in San Bernardino. So that's about it.

Q: so how easy is it going to be to move that speaker system over to your house for parties?

JM: yeah, no. We're not doing that. It's… we'll lock it up. That's called CoachComm's Tempo and it's a system that a lot of teams are going to around the country. And you can actually… we just got it yesterday so we're learning how to use it. It will take us a few practices, but basically, you can organize your whole practice through it. You know, your clocks, your play clocks… we don't have our play clocks yet. They're coming in. But your scoreboard, your play clocks, your game clock, your period clocks. Any crowd noise or music or horns. We can speak over it. It'll keep us moving efficiently.

Q: so were you mic'ed up with that?

JM: no, I wasn't.

Q: it was prerecorded then?

JM: that was [audio difficulties]. That was his voice. Not mine.

Q: can it play better music?

JM: well, we can load… you can actually load… like we'll do a media request day. You can load… we can load 20,000 songs in there and you can program it to… and like I said, you can have the crowd noise. You can lay down crowd noise over the top of like a bass or something. You know, any environment you want to create. It's really… it's good.

Q: it's like a giant expensive iPod.

JM: it kind of is, but the other thing, it just keeps you organized in practice. We program the whole practice and it'll just run for us. It's nice.

Q: was that your idea?

JM: it was not my idea. We stole the idea. I mean, they've been presenting it here for awhile to us, but we finally were able to finance it and get it in here. A lot of teams are doing it around the country. I know Oregon uses it. Chip Kelly bought one right when he went to Philly. And I talked to probably five or six coaches about if it helped their practice efficiency and they all felt like it really did.

Q: all I know is a UC Riverside student called and requested a couple of songs.

JM: he could hear it way out there?

Q: yeah, he heard it out there.

JM: we didn't even turn it near as high as it can go. And we were going to get three speakers. But we stopped at two just because we don't need three here, but maybe next year, we add two and we go in all corners, and we can just have a concert out here.

Q: "wall of sound."

Q: does it come with roadies?

JM: you can be the roadie. You dress like one and you look like one. No, it's just really… it'll help us become more efficient. It really well so we're excited to have it.

Q: is there video with that? A monitor upfront?

JM: no. Well, on the backend, yeah, there's like a computer screen. It's all touchscreen. You can program your whole practice. And whatever sounds you want. And I like the ability that you can stop and talk over it. You can add time. You take time off. It'll organize our two-minute drills better for us. It's just more… It's much more efficient. It's what people are going to.

Q: can you tap in and watch what [Brett] Hundley is seeing with his camera in real-time?

JM: we can't do that. but I'll tell you, we went back and looked at that yesterday and it… boy, was it helpful. You learn a lot about what you're quarterback's seeing and how he's going through his progressions, and if he's getting scattered or if he's able to focus and how long he's spending on each receiver. And there's audio as well so you can hear the cadence, you can hear any of the communication that he's making to the linemen or backs around him. It's really a helpful tool for us.

Q: what did you see with him? What was good and what he needed to work on?

JM: I don't know what to compare it to yet, you know. But what we thought we'd see was a guy that was a little bit more patient working through his progressions, and that's what it appeared to be. But we'll have to compare it. You know, you have to kind of look at… you look at the overhead. The coach's film, and you see what kind of practice he had, and how he looked on that play, and then when you go to that other angle, it just gives you another perspective. It's good.

Q: have you run all this technology by your dad?

JM: no. The next step, and I'm not kidding here, okay? The next step and we will get to it. It's just going to take us awhile is… you know, they've got these drones now that can hover over your practice field with video camera and what we eventually want to do is get a drone… because that's another perspective and that's looking down on, and I think that that would be fantastic. Because you know when you watch games and they give you that perspective? How unique it is and you can see angles and you can see depth and things like that. Sometimes you can't see depth as well on film. We're going to get a drone that will have a camera. And we can program it to hover over and move with the ball…

Q: you're talking those that they use in games where they're on the cable and you can move them back and forth?

JM: right, this will be actually a drone. A helicopter-type drone with a camera looking down. It will primarily stay within the line of scrimmage so it'll be great.

Q: that's what the quarterbacks are reviewing on the sidelines… pictures are sent down…

JM: well, you can't do that in college football. In the pros, you can watch… you can look at the pictures. In the pros, you have a sideline and you have an end zone photo. And so they're put right next each other. You typically have four shots of each play. You click it before the ball snap and then a second or two after the ball snap. So you can see coverage, you can see blitzes, you can see protections, you can see routes. All those things. But in college football, you can't do that. It'd be great if you could, but we're not there yet.

Q: I'm generally against head coaches having access to drones, you know that?

JM: well, yeah I know, but you think about how much it can improve our ability to teach and learn. I know you're kidding around, but it's really an interesting concept. So we're going to work towards that.

Q: did they give you a budget for that? Do you have like a new budget?

JM: no. It's called go-out-and-raise-money-Jim. Yeah. Yeah. It's part of job in college football. You know, in the pro football, there's a money tree. It's called the owner. In college football, you know, you depend on our donors and boosters and people that want to contribute to the program, and we're lucky to have some people that are willing to do that right now.

Q: what's left to do with this place? You talked about the things you're bringing in, in upgrades. What's left to do here?

JM: like physical structures? We're going to replace all the tarps over there. Adidas is working on that right now. We're going to replace this blue... we're just going to dress it up. We're going to paint the sheds. We're just going to modernize it a little bit. You know, we've made upgrades in the locker room and the meeting rooms. And until we get our new facility, which hopefully we can break ground on within a year, you know, we're going to utilize what we have. I think it's a great facility. Does it have all the bells and whistles that other places have? Maybe not, but it's so convenient. And having our football facility right in the middle of campus is a huge advantage to us. It really is. Our guys don't have to go off campus to find the coaches. The coaches are always around them. And really you can't underestimate that. I would rather have less room and have our players around us than have more space and have to have them come and find us or us going to have to find them. But there's not a whole lot left to do really. Just little things.

Q: how's the money tree coming for the facilities?

JM: I don't know. I know they're doing a lot of work behind the scenes. I'm hopeful that we get something going here quickly. I think it's something that we need, but until we get it, you know, this place is certainly functional, you know.

Q: with recruiting, I mean, all the bells and whistles are the thing these days.

JM: it is. It is. To a certain extent. I think at some point… recruits look at uniforms and they look at facilities. They look at those things. But I would think that, if it's the right kind of kid, and he's got the right kind of guidance, that ultimately, they're going to look at: what kind of education they're going to get, what kind of men they're going to be around as their mentors, their coaches… They should all enter this world with the thought that they're going to go play pro football. So who can help them advance to that? So, get your degree and have a chance to go on and have success, playing the game you love.

Q: this world you're talking about… coming here?

JM: the world being college football and yeah, coming to UCLA. So, yeah the facilities… they're important to a certain extent. But the kids, that you really want, look beyond facilities. And they say, "Okay, can these guys make me a better man? Can they make me a better player? Can they help me have success in life?" And I feel like that's one of the reasons that we are able to have the success we have so far in recruiting is we got those elements. Plus, we've got an amazing campus in an amazing part of town. We've got all the elements.

Q: the media is good too.

JM: the media is just… like vanilla ice cream, soft serve.

Q: how is Damien Thigpen's projection for fall camp? Is he going to be…

JM: you know, he's coming along. He runs with Coach [Sal Alosi - Strength & Conditioning Coordinator]. When he runs, he looks good. When he decelerates, there's still a little bit of a limp. He's got to get through that. At that position, probably more than any position on the football field, I think it's important that you are full speed and you're 100% confident. Otherwise, if there's hesitancy in a running back, and the things that their body has to do, and the hits that they have to take, if there's any hesitancy at all, I think you really expose the kid to further injury. So, I know he's working hard, and he's pushing it. But there's going to be some mental barriers that he has to get through as well. And when he does, we'll him out there and we'll ease him back in the way he's supposed to be eased back in. I think he'll have a great year for us. He's working his tail off.

Q: draft's coming up tomorrow. Are you getting anxious?

JM: I am so excited for those guys. You know, I know that Datone [Jones]… a lot of people are projecting him toward the end of the first round. I hope that happens. I think there's of couple teams that are really interested in him. I have been getting a lot of phone calls from head coaches in the last week, talking about our guys.

Johnathan Franklin… what's happened with Jonathan is people have seen his performance on the field, but they've gotten a chance to meet him now. Bring him in for workouts. Come out here and work him out and so they realize what a great character kid he is.

Jeff Baca, I think is going to be drafted, you know. I don't know what round, but I think higher than people think. Depends on how people value him. But what people like about Jeff is the fact that he's versatile. He can play center. He can play guard in a pinch. He can play tackle. I talked to an offensive line coach on Saturday morning in the league. He saw Jeff as a center, but he thought, what was really great is he could also play guard and in a pinch, could play tackle. They project him as a center.

I think Jeff Locke will get drafted.

I think that Joe Fauria is going to get drafted. You know, I'm not sure where he's going to get drafted. I think there's teams that have offenses that are set up for him and some that aren't so, you know, it's kind of going to be whether or not they value his style of play.

I think there's a chance that one of the corners sneaks in and gets drafted. And if they don't, I think they'll be high-priority free agents for most teams.

I think Jerry Johnson will be a high-priority free agent.

I think that Kevin McDermott... you know, being a snapper, probably won't get drafted, but we've had just about… we probably had 15 teams at least come through and work him out. And every single coach has told me the same thing: he's the best snapper in college football coming out this year. So he'll be playing.

And then, you know, we're hoping that, you know, David Allen and Dalton Hilliard… guys that, you know, people that are kind of off-the-grid, that we can help them get a chance. One thing we're able to help these guys… we had, I think, 15 players playing college all-star games. You know, I think that's just our staff having connections to people that populate their rosters, and so I think it's the same thing in free agency. We're going to make ourselves… I'm going to make myself very available the last two days of the day of the draft to phone calls from people that want to know about some of these guys they maybe didn't have information on. And then, as soon as the draft is over, if our guys aren't drafted, my job now is to get on the phone and call teams and… get David Allen a tryout. And you know, get… maybe Brett Downey gets a tryout. You know, at least a tryout, if not in camp. So, I'm excited. Yeah, I went on for 10 minutes. I'm jacked. It's a totally different experience for me. I've never been on the side of it. I've always been on the other side, and I'm really excited for those kids.

Q: Datone wasn't necessarily projected as a first round pick a few months ago. What do you think he's done to prove to teams that he deserves that?

JM: well, he had an excellent year. And I think it's a lot like Johnathan, is they get to know him. You know, his character. He went to the combine and he had a great workout. He was 6'4" and an eighth, I believe. And he was 283 [pounds] and he ran a 4.88 [40 yard dash]. He had great shuttle times. He did well on the bench. And then people come out and work him out, and they see how hard he works. And then they get to know the kid and they understand his background. What he's overcome and what his goals are. And how disciplined he is and how accountable he is. And you fall in love with that. I think the other thing with Datone is he's got tremendous, tremendous position versatility. People try to paint him… I read some of these evaluators that say he's a 3-4 defensive end. That is not true. Datone can play defensive end in a 3-4, but he can also play left end in a 4-3 and be outstanding. I think three or four years into his career, he can be a three-technique. We know that he can rush as a three-technique on third-down. So scouts look at things differently than coaches. That's why I value what coaches say and what coaches say is this guy is a gem. He's got so many things that he can do and coaches love guys like Datone.

Q: he's performed well at the Senior Bowl as well. He and Johnathan.

JM: played… yeah. And it was… I think it was a function of the hard work that he's put in. I think it was a function of him having the right attitude, and I think it was a function of [Angus McClure - Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator] doing a heck of a job with him this year. And, you know, us working him out at defensive end. And teaching him how to rush from the left side and the right side. And then us moving him down inside and him playing over a guard and pass rushing over a guard. When he went into the one-on-one pass rush at the combine, he went to all four spots. Nobody else was doing that, you know. And he was looking for the best player and trying to beat that guy. And he had a toolbox of moves that he could use, and I give a lot of credit to Angus for that.

Q: the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today was throwing out his name with [Justin James] "J. J." Watt. Talking… pretty high praise, I guess.

JM: I saw Richard Seymour and compare him to Richard Seymour. This is a time of a year where everybody makes comparison. I think if Datone can just go be the best Datone, I think he's going to have a great career. I know this: if I was still coaching in the NFL, I would want Datone Jones on my team. I would absolutely want him. Just like Johnathan Franklin and Jeff Baca and Joe and … I would want them on my team. Definitely.

Q: what about Donovan Carter? Do you think he might get any…

JM: I think he will. I think if Donovan… I forgot to say Donovan's name. I think Donovan will get a shot. You know, when scouts were coming through here, during the season, that was one of the guys that they wanted to look at. I think that Donovan is your… can play the one-technique which is a nose tackle in the 4-3 or he can be a true nose in a 3-4. You know, he was a rotational player here for us this last year, but that doesn't mean he's not a good player. So, I think DC can get a shot as well.

Q: have you spent more time trying to guide them through the process or is it more pitching people in the NFL?

JM: both. It's both. You know, fortunately, these guys have enough confidence to come in and talk to me about, you know, "the process." Johnathan was asking me last night about what he should expect next week at his first minicamp. Before they went to the combine, sat down and talked to a few of them about how they should present themselves. When coaches fly in, talk to them about how they should present themselves. You know, coaches will fly in here and say, "Hey, pick me up. We're going to dinner." Kid just says, "Okay, Coach wants me to pick him up. We're going to dinner." They don't realize it's a test. Everything's a test. From what you wear to getting there early to knowing where you're going to park to having made reservations at the restaurant to having directions to the restaurant. You know, we used to do this. You'd get a kid who's a high round pick and you say, I'm going to be in at 6 o'clock. Pick me up at the hotel at 6:30. Have a place picked out for dinner." They wouldn't know how to get to the hotel. They'd show up at 6:33. They'd have junkie clothes on. They wouldn't have directions to the restaurant. They wouldn't know where to park. You know, things like that. I want our kids to show that they are responsible adults. That you can count on if you draft him. And our guys have done a really good job of that.

Q: it's the beginning of the audition.

JM: it's… everything is a test. Everything's an audition. Every time… what they wear walking through that gate to a workout with a pro coach is an audition. They're being evaluated in every single way. These teams are about to pump millions of dollars into them, and they've pumped millions of dollars into evaluating them. And… first of all, our guys are classy kids to start with so it's not like it's been a big project, but just, for me, having the NFL experience and being able to tell them what they're looking for and what they're looking at and how they're evaluating you, I think it's been great. I love that part of the job. alright, enough pontification.

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