VIDEO: Mora on Friday

Coach Jim Mora talks about maintaining the tempo of practice Friday, the versatility of Anthony Jefferson, and emphasizes that Priest Willis is a cornerback...


Opening Statement:
Good day of work. I was curious to see how they would come out today after yesterday's practice, where the tempo was, one of the best we've ever had and they came out today and matched it. So that was encouraging. You'll ask about Thomas Duarte, he cramped a little. Eddie Vanderdoes did some, we kept him out, his back has been tight for about three weeks. We want to give him a chance to settle down because we're counting on him. Other than that, guys are doing a good job moving around. Jordan Zumwalt is so friggin lean and we come out here and he goes so hard that he cramps up. Remember last year, he had his troubles out here so we are being proactive with it. Everyone is ok. Nothing is serious.

On Sean Covington:
I didn't even know which one he was, I have to figure out what number he is. You know what, the ball comes off his foot nicely. I think the key with Sean is his operation time, you know when you go from Jeff (Locke) and Kevin McDermott, they were so efficient from snap to kick. So we have to work on that with whoever our snap is and with Sean it's just that operation time. That's just so critical because he's got an excellent leg. I don't know if he'll be the Jeff Locke that you saw that can pin teams down inside the ten-yard line. on a consistent basis, that's kind of an art, but he certainly has a big leg.

On Kenny Orjikoe working with the first team:
Some, we rotate he and Aaron Wallace. You know, we move guys all over. Today, Isaac Savaiinaea was moving with the first team too. I wouldn't read anything into it at any point in time. Caleb Benenoch ran with the first team too. We're going to move guys and see who fits where. There are very few positions, although there are a few set in stone, but there are some that will be competitions. First of all, the transformation of his body, when he first got here, he was 215 pounds, and now he's 6-4, 240. Fast and quick and explosive and very athletic and has really developed at that position in terms of his knowledge of the game, he's a kid that hasn't played a ton of football. That outside linebacker position looks very natural to him. He hasn't played in any games there, Aaron has a little more experience, and we want to create competition there. If he looked just like Anthony, that would be great. You have what you call, 'position parameters' for every position, which you know, a height, a weight a speed, an arm length but there is always exceptions to the rule. If you look at Kenny, if you look at Aaron Wallace or some of the young guys, they fit a profile. Anthony Barr is about 6-4.5, weighing in at 250. If they all were like 6-4, 250 and running a 4.5 forty, that would be great. But it's just you like guys at that position who have good length so they can get separation and you like guys who can have good get off.  You like guys who have that ability to rush passers, drop into coverage. Depending on call, you could be doing either because typically that outside linebacker is a fourth-rusher. That's a position that demands versatility and Kenny has that. You look for a certain profile. There is always exceptions. But part of the profile is skill set. Another part is football IQ, their aptitude to grasp concepts and put them into action on the field. If you can get the perfect combination, which you rarely can, you get someone special.

On Anthony Barr:
Anthony right now appears on track to have everything you look for in that position. There are a few other guys like that. He just started, he's a neophyte. He's only playing the position for a year and he came out here and broke his hand and missed some time. He's a very good player who has tremendous upside. I don't even know if we can identify where his ceiling is at, he can be a dominant player. One of the things that makes Anthony so special is beyond the measurables and the work ethic is just his mindset. He just demands greatness of himself all the time. He's just that rare combination of all of the physical skills with the work ethic and the mindset that he's got and that's what makes great players. I like him at outside linebacker for the UCLA Bruins.

On Cassius Marsh:
He's never played outside linebacker. (Standing up) he's playing defensive end. We never play him at outside linebacker. He could (be standing up), or down in a three-point stance, but he's not an outside linebacker, he's a defensive end. He might like to think he is, but he's a defensive end. Noel is always begging him to play tight end and we'll use him and Anthony in some goal line packages and some red zone.

On Noel Mazzone liking defensive players for offense:
Noel would like every player. He's begging for Myles Jack right now. We try to move guys around. One of the things we like to be able to do is maximize the abilities of every player on the squad but you have to be careful you don't overload guys.

On Eldridge Massington being 100% to go:
Yeah, he's yeah.

On Anthony Jefferson playing safety:
He's a versatile kid, he plays corner, he plays safety, we played him safety in some games last year late in the season. He's got the body type. The thing about Anthony is he's had a tough road here with all the injuries and he finally seems like he's healthy and running well again and its good to see because he's had to overcome some things. He's a good football player and we're trying to get him on the field. The guy has length and I like long guys on defense. We don't have a lot back there. We just have to bring guys along quickly, you know, Anthony, Ishmael (Adams) and Randall (Goforth) and maybe Fabien just a little bit, those are the only guys with snaps in a game and I think Fabien's are just a handful. Stan (McKay) has a few snaps back there. We don't have a lot of experience but a lot of talent.

On Jalen Ortiz:
You know its new for him because in high school, he played more out of the backfield. I heard a couple of the quarterbacks, it was actually Jerry Neuheisel, and he said 'that kid is smart'. He knows how to play the game and set up guys on routes. He's still really raw. He has burst and he has quickness and he catches the ball fairly well. I think he just has to settle into that spot and get confidence. Right now we are (keeping him on offense). That was something we talked about heading into camp, potentially moving him over to defense depending on how the corners were doing. Right now, I feel good about the skill level we have at the corner position. Certainly not the experience, but the level of ability.

On the veterans helping the younger guys:
I like to see that. That's one of the things that's permeating with our teams. You like to see the older guys take the younger guys and helping them out. It's great to see. It's kind of a different concept for me to see because in the National Football League, you don't see a lot of that because that new guy is trying to take that old guys job. But here, because they're all part of the same university and natural attrition, with graduates, you see a little bit tighter bond and its fun to see, and it's not something I'm used to.

On Priest Willis:
I coached defensive backs my whole career and I've been lucky to be around some. You know, Rod Woodson, he's a pretty good corner. I would think that people would tryst my judgment when it comes to defensive backs. And all of us said from the very first day is that Priest Willis is a corner. I don't know why people don't believe that. I guess there is someone out there with more experience than me. I don't know who they are, but I guess they're out there. He's a corner, there was never any doubt that he's a corner. There will never be a doubt that he's a corner. He's a corner. I don't know why people want to make him a safety. He's a corner. He's a picture perfect corner.

On if he'll make him a safety:
Hell No. No. I don't understand the chatter of Priest Willis going to corner. He's a corner. So find someone who has more experience than me in the secondary that says he's a safety and maybe I'll listen. Rod Woodson saw Priest Willis and said 'Jim, that guy looks like me."

On the freshman defensive backs:
It's a mistake a minute with them.  But like you ask about Priest, and Tahaan and Johnny, those three in particular and Tyler, he's a little bit younger, he's only 17. I had to sign some permission slips for him when we were in San Diego, like a guardian. They're learning quickly. They're making a ton of mistakes, but there are a ton of mistakes to make. I've always felt like in practice, it's opportunity to learn, as long as they don't keep repeating them and learning from them, I'm ok with them because they're progressing and learning and they're smart kids.

On Priest Willis, again:
He's a corner. He's a corner.
 


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