VIDEO: Mora on Thursday

Coach Jim Mora talked Thurday about the no-pads, last practice before Saturday's Spring Game, how he has to occasionally get fired up at practice, and an emerging freshman linebacker...


JM: excellent situational day for us. We went through all the special teams situations that can come up in a game. And our guys were focused and locked in for that. Created some situations at the end of the game there that don't come up very often. We weren't as focused there, but we needed to go through that. It was our first time going through it. It was a good practice for us. Kind of a different kind of practice, as you guys know, but very effective. Trying to get ready for Saturday night. Simulated our pregame routine: how we're going to come out of the tunnel, how we're going to stretch… I mean, you have to go back and you have to hit every single little detail in order to get it right so that's what we're trying to do, and I guarantee you, we still missed something, but we're trying to get it right. So thus far, I think it's been a really productive spring for us. We need to finish off strong Saturday night, but just seeing a lot of improvement in this team from an emotional standpoint, maturity-wise, from a physical standpoint, and knowing what to do mentally. I feel like we're on the right track. We got a ton of work to do though, and we're a long way from our objective. And it's going to take a heck of a commitment by all of us, but I see a team that's willing to make that commitment. And now they got to make it and we got to make it. Minute after minute, second after second until the season's over. So there, you got it.

Q: so…. Some things there at the end, they were not so focused on… was it kind of…

JM: no, they were. It's… Listen. I hope none of them watch this. Sometimes you got to leave them with a frickin' sense of…

Q: fear?

JM: you know. Yeah, you know what I mean. Those last situations… okay, 4th and 5 for the football game. Someone wins, someone loses. If you stop them on defense, game's over. If you convert on offense, you get to keep going. 4th and 20. Okay? There's a tendency on defense… it's just this natural tendency to let down a little bit. You can't do it. We saw Ray Rice last year against the San Diego Chargers on fourth and 29, convert. Oh, you go, "fourth and 20. We got ‘em." You never "got ‘em." The worst three words you can say ever in competition is, "I got it." When you say, "I got it", you're done. Okay? 4th and 9, alright? We intercept the ball in the end zone. We go down. The game's over. We run it out. We got a chance to lose. So we got to go through those situations to learn, you know. So, we're going to keep doing them. I mean, I just think those are the moments that may or may not come up in the season, but if they do, you better be prepared.

Q: good answer.

JM: another long answer by me. I'll wear you out. I guarantee. I'll wear you out. You'll stop showing up. It's going to be… it's my goal.

Q: did I tell you I have a 17 year old kid here?

JM: I know. I know.

Q: Not even close.

Q: can you talk about some of the specifics that you want to get out of…

JM: the game?

Q: the game and what do you want to see? Like, #2 quarterback emerge and things like that.

JM: I don't think that's going to happen in "a game." I think that happens through the course of spring. I want to see us go in and be intense, organized, and competitive. I want to us to put on a show, and I don't mean a show in the sense of a Hollywood show, but demonstrate what this team's capable of, for our fans so they get excited about our energy. I want to come out of it healthy, you know. We're going to have about a 60-play game situation at the end of… you know, at the end. We're going to do some individual. We're going to do some pass rush. We're going to do some one-on-one. We're going to do all those things. We're going to do pride alley. I want us to see us be able to get in a new environment. The Rose Bowl. Where it's more vast than this. And there's crowd there. And focus. And not be distracted by the stuff. And just focus on the task and execute. That's what I want to see.

Q: in terms of that #2 quarterback, where does that stand right now?

JM: it's completely wide-open. It's T.J. [Millweard], and it's Jerry [Neuheisel], and it's Mike [Fafaul], and it's Jake [Hall] and it's Asiantii [Woulard]. I mean, that's... don't start the number-two quarterback thing with me right now.

Q: c'mon, we need something.

JM: oh, God. It's wide-open. You're even in the race.

Q: okay.

JM: yeah.

Q: guys like Ellis [McCarthy] and Kylie [Fitts]. Are they expected to play this weekend?

JM: yes. No. Ellis, no. Kylie, yes. Ellis, no.

Q: I know we asked you at the halfway point who you thought was standing out. Is that list still the same? Or is there anyone that kind of added themselves to that list?

JM: absolutely. Guys have jumped up. I don't know… when you asked me before, I mentioned Kenny Orjioke?

Q: no. I don't think you did.

JM: in the last couple of weeks, Kenny Orjioke has just jumped. I mean, he's jumped. And, you know, I don't know if you guys know this fact. He's just 17 years old, and he's still maturing. But you're starting to see it. Ben Wysocki has jumped. A.J.'s still doing well. I'm looking around and I'm trying to think of some other guys that have jumped out at me that I didn't mention the last time.

Q: [Brandon] Sermons?

JM: Brandon? He's been consistent. I'm looking for guys that jumped out at me. Those are the guys that kind of jumped out at me. And the one in particular is Kenny. You know, all of a sudden, he looks like he could be an outside linebacker and can play and help you win at this level. So we're hoping he keeps developing.

Q: is he something that could push Aaron Wallace? I know you said he was pretty set in that spot.

JM: absolutely. Absolutely. Hey, the competition at that left outside linebacker spot is going to be fierce in the fall. Because there's a couple of kids coming in, in this class, that are special players. So between Aaron Wallace and Kenny Orjioke and Myles Jack and Deon Hollins… and then you throw in Anthony Barr in there. That's a great group of linebackers so I can't wait to see the competition. They're going to push each other to get better. It's going to be outstanding for this football team.

Q: are any of those incoming freshmen going to be considered for your special packages? The nickel and dime packages like you had McKay and [Dalton] Hilliard last year?

JM: it depends on how they develop. You know, Jayon Brown is a guy that could potentially fit in that role. Cameron Judge is a guy that could potentially fit in that role. It all depends on how they develop through those first couple weeks of fall and how much time we can get them in those early games. We're looking for guys that can go out on the field and win. Down after down after down. It doesn't matter if they're freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors… so, if they come in here and they demonstrate that they are the best guy to give us chance to win, then they're going to be the guy that plays. But I expect the competition to be great. Because, you know, Taylor [Lagace] and Stan [McKay] have stepped up. So it's just going to make our team better. The position… there's two positions that the young guys have to come in with the mindset that they're going to start. Now, whether they start or not, I don't know, but they have to come in thinking, "not only am I going to start, but I'm going to help this team win," and that's offensive line and then the secondary.

Q: what about Alberto Cid?

JM: don't know where he is right now. I mean, I know where he is physically, but I don't know where he is in terms of his recovery from the concussion.

Q: I think he just tweeted and said he was "done."

JM: okay, well, we've had discussions. He was, you know, as of last night, he was sitting down with his family and discussing where they wanted to go. I haven't talking to him yet this morning, but if that's what he tweeted, and it's the official Alberto Cid Twitter page, then, you know, I guess I'll address it on on Saturday when I talk to him.

Q: tell us about the progression of Jerry Neuheisel at quarterback from last year until this year.

JM: well, I've always liked Jerry, as you guys know. I mean, I thought last year, he was good player. And I think he's better this year. He's like his dad. I mean, he's smart. He knows football. He understands situations. He's like all the young players. He has to become more consistent in his game. In all parts of his game: the mental part and the physical. The great thing about Jerry is he works at it and he wants to be a good player. He's got leadership qualities that are just kind of built into his personality. I'm a Jerry Neuheisel fan. I always have been. I think that he can go out and perform fine for us in a game. I don't know at this point in his career he's ready go out there and just win games for us by I think at some point in his career, he will be. Just like his dad was. You know, you underestimate those guys and man, all of a sudden they turn into something special.

Q: is there anything different about energy at the end of this spring compared to last year?

JM: just… we're a much more mature football team. We're more focused. They understand situations. There's so much better recall for them. They been through it now for a spring, an entire season, and now another spring. So we're just further along emotionally and in our emotional maturity, and that's encouraging. Now, what we have to do is when the freshmen come in, is we got to get them right up to our level as fast as we can because they don't get it… there's no grace period. There's no free pass. Like, "Oh, I'm going to ease…" You don't ease into anything around here. You have to jump in and be ready to go.

Q: about the draft tonight, how excited are you?

JM: well I'm excited. You know, I don't know… the draft is so… it's so unpredictable. You know? You kind of have a feel for the top few picks, but after that, it's so unpredictable, and you don't know what people are thinking. You know, I just wish the best for all those guys. I hope that the UCLA Bruins' names get called tonight. You know, I don't know if they will or won't. I know those guys are going to be sitting on pins and needles all day and really all weekend until it's all over with.


Q: hey Coach, I need bus fare. Could you…

JM: have a great day.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories