VIDEO: Mora after Spring Game

The head coach talks about how the spring game went, whether any position battles have been solved, and how he uses the spring game for recruiting...

Jim Mora talks after the spring game:


JM: it was a great night. It was a good end to what I thought was a very successful spring. We're happy with it. Obviously, you're never satisfied. But, you know, tonight was great because we got to come out here and connect with our fans, play in our home stadium on our home turf. It was great to involve our student body. They're so supportive of us, and I think our players just love coming out here. It was probably not the most intense spring game you've ever seen, but I think it was productive. We got a lot of great work done. Some guys got a time, a chance, to shine. It was interesting for me, and I warned them this was going to happen, is we're going to come out here and they would be so out of their element. We've been stretching one way for 14 straight practices, and they come out and they reverted right back to how we did it last year during the game so it just kinds of reminds you as a coach that they're young developing athletes still and you have to continue to just go back over every little detail with them. And so there's just so much to be learned from nights like tonight, and I thought it was really successful. And I hope the fans had fun. I'm sure that they did. They got autographs, they got to see fireworks, they got to see good football. I heard the announced attendance was 51,001 so we beat Kentucky by one student. No, I'm kidding, but, I don't know, it was just was just great to be out here at the Rose Bowl so… a lot of fun. A lot of fun.

Q: we talked to Datone Jones a little bit earlier. How proud of him are you and how proud…

JM: all those guys… you know, Datone… I guess what's really neat about Datone is the fact that all that he overcame. You know, he didn't lead an easy life growing up, but he persevered. He's a kid that came to UCLA, and they called him a high-risk academic student and he got his degree from UCLA and he was drafted in the first round. I just think it shows everyone what you can do if you put your mind to it and you have the right support. And then Johnathan Franklin. Same thing with him. And then Jeff Baca gets drafted. And Jeff Locke. So now we got two at Green Bay and two at Minnesota. So the NFC North… I mean, who do we cheer for? And then Sheldon Price signed with the [Indianapolis] Colts and Kevin McDermott signed with the 49ers. And I haven't heard any others. I think Andrew Abbott might have signed with Arizona. Joe [Fauria] went to the [Detroit] Lions. How about Aaron Hester?

Q: Aaron went to Denver.

JM: Aaron went to Denver? Great. So, you know what? The more of those kids that can get an opportunity… It's great for them. It's great for our program. It's just really a neat deal. For me, the last three days have been more nerve-racking than any draft I… 25 years that I was ever in. Just so anxious for these kids. I'm so excited for them. So… how was that answer? Simple question…

Q: that was perfect. Thank you so much.

JM: You haven't been here very much. I'm a rambler.

Q: can you talk about a little bit… you used to, as an NFL coach, be on the other side of it. What's it like to be on this side?

JM: it was just completely different. I mean, you know I was glued to the TV or the radio. My kids had their phones out. We were just going pick by pick, and I was in communication with all those kids. And it was just different. You know, you feel like you're sending them off instead of bringing them in and it's just an entirely different feeling. I'm so proud of them. They've all worked so hard and they deserve what they got, and I think many of them will do great things. The ones that don't do… you know, succeed or make it in the NFL, I think they'd do great things off the field so it's just an exciting time.

Q: any specific takeaways from this game today? Offensively? Defensively?

JM: no. You know, here's the thing about a game like tonight is… we're going to evaluate it, but not like we'd evaluate a normal practice or a normal game because what we did tonight on defense was basically nothing. We kept it as simple as you could possibly keep it. We kept it fairly simple on offense as well so today was slanted heavily in favor of the offense and you saw it. They moved the ball up and down the field. But it is a chance to see how guys react to a different environment. You know, they've been practicing inside the fences of Spaulding Field for the last month, and you bring them out here and some guys can really handle it and some guys can't. And the guys that can't need to learn to. So I just think that these are great learning experiences.

Q: obviously, there were a lot of recruits out here today. What do you… I mean, generally like, what do you want them to take from watching something like this or being at one of these events?

JM: just how supportive our fan base is. What kind of energy that we're developing here at UCLA. What the future looks like if they come here and play for us. How magnificent this building is and that they'll get to play here as their home stadium on this grass… we had three kids from Louisiana. They walked out here today and they all thought they were walking on field turf. I said, "No. It's grass." "This is field turf." I said, "go down and…" And they're, "oh my God, it's grass." They've never seen anything like it, you know? So it's just… you're on the campus of UCLA and it's this amazing beautiful campus and you bring them out to this place [where] they've watch some the greatest games in college football and I tell you what, it makes an imprint on them.

Q: Jim, how do you think Brett [Hundley] has grown this offseason?

JM: oh, God. He's just a totally different kid than he was a year ago. He's more mature. He's a much better decision-maker. He's more confident. He knows the job is his. And he knows his ceiling is high and he works his tail off to try to get there. And he never has a bad day. He never has a bad meeting. If he has a bad throw or bad series, he wants to get back in there and do it again. And I think he's just a great leader. A great role model for our players, you know. Even though he's a young guy, everybody looks up to him.

Q: it seems like he was kind of a celebrity now too. He had like 200 people around him.

JM: wow. Well, we need to be careful about that, you know. No, I'm just kidding. Brett is very humble. Very, very, very humble. Like I said, he is a great leader. He's one of our hardest workers. The thing I like about our team is I think that they're so hungry, you know. People pat them on the back and say, "Great year. Great year." And there's not one of them that thinks nine wins was a great year. None of them are satisfied, and I like that. And that's what we want and that's what you have to have to become a champion.

Q: Brett's not going to sneak up on anybody this year.

JM: that's okay.

Q: is there a different kind of expectation for him?

JM: I think so. Yeah and I think it adds pressure to you, but I think that Brett can handle it. I think that he's a mature, smart, well-rounded young man and I think that if anyone can handle that pressure, it's Brett Hundley.

Q: is this team going to need him to use his legs more this year?

JM: I don't know. I mean, I would like to see him stay in the pocket until it's time to run and then run so… you know, or know when to throw it away. But I don't know the answer to that question.

Q: he said he breaks down that GoPro film.

JM: oh yeah.

Q: Have you ever watched that with him?

JM: no. I've watched it, but not with him. Yeah, we watch it though.

Q: is it kind of… I mean, it's different obviously.

JM: well, it's great. It's a different perspective. You see the game through his eyes. Now, sometimes, you know, it's moving pretty quickly because he's jerking his head around but you can really get some good information out of that. And I know if it helps him, then it helps us.

Q: Paul [Perkins] and Jordon [James] did some good things. Mostly in the receiving game today. Where do you think things stand…

JM: who was the first one? I'm sorry?

Q: Paul and... in terms of where do you think things are at in terms of replacing Johnathan?

JM: you can't replace Johnathan Franklin but, not one person is going to do it, but you know, I think the committee that… I think that we'll be able to run the ball effectively. I think so much of running the football is being able to throw it effectively. I think it's guys, you know, getting out front. I think it's our receivers getting downfield and blocking. And then it's certainly it's the skill level of the running back. And I thought I saw some really good things out of both of those guys. And I thought Malcolm [Jones] did a good job as well so… you know, look, to say that one guy is going to step in and replace the all-time leading rusher in UCLA history would be ludicrous for me to do, but I think that by committee, we can have an effective running game.

Q: heading into this summer… how different do you feel this summer compared to last summer?

JM: well, there's so much unknown last year. Even coming out of spring. We didn't know who our quarterback would be. We hadn't really developed an identity as a football team. You know, I've told you that I never place limits on what these guys can do, but I'm not sure that everyone has bought in fully and I feel like right now, it's a football team where everybody's bought in and everybody has the same vision and the same goal. And everybody works the same way. You know, there's not different levels of commitment here. There's a whole bunch of guys that, at least in my opinion, right now appear to be fully committed. And that's what you have to have to have a champion.

Q: would you say there's less concerns on your part going in there?

JM: no. I'm nervous wreck every day about this, you know. I mean, you're on the razor's edge all the time. I worry about everything, but I'm excited at the same time. I'm concerned about our offensive line. I'm concerned about our secondary. I'm concerned about running back. You know. I'm concerned about long snapper. I'm concerned about holder. You know, we don't have a punter yet. You know, he's down in Florida, probably surfing. So, you know, there's just so many things that have to break right for us to be the team we want to be, but we give ourselves a chance because of the type of young men we have.

Q: in terms of Anthony [Barr], he said one thing that stuck out to him, watching his film from last year, was getting better in pass coverage.


Q: yeah.

JM: oh.

Q: Where do you see him? Did you notice the same thing? Where would you like to see him make strides?

JM: everywhere. I think he has to get better in every phase of his game and I think that's why it's so great that he came back is that he recognized the fact… you know, he could've been a first-round draft pick this year. There's no doubt in my mind he could have been a first-round draft pick, but I think Anthony was mature enough to realize that he wasn't ready yet to play at the next level at the level that he wants to. And I think it was really important for him to remain a member of this team, you know. What's really cool was when guys like Datone and Jet [Johnathan Franklin] and David Allen… and Sheldon [Price] was over on sidelines… and they come back and they say, "God, we miss it. You know. We miss it so much. We just wish we could still be a part of it." Well, Anthony, he gets to live it for another year, you know. There's no sense in moving through life too fast. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the now. So I appreciate him for doing that. So… it's my little philosophy for the night. So, anyway, thanks for everything this spring. Appreciate you guys so…

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