VIDEO: Mora on Monday Morning

Coach Jim Mora talked after Monday morning's practice about injuries, some of the younger guys who have a chance to contribute this season, and more...


Opening Statement:
Christian Morris has the flu, so we held him out. Thomas Duarte is doing better and he'll go this evening. He did quite a bit this morning in the individual. They're still thinking it was just a cramp and not a pull, so he should be back at it. We had three guys that had concussions. So we're holding them until they're fully cleared. As you guys know, we don't mess with that stuff. Kevin McReynolds, Ian Taubler and Poasi Moala. We sent them all back down to get evaluated in Westwood, so they won't be back for a couple of days. Eddie Vanderdoes had an X-Ray yesterday and we're waiting to read it but he felt a lot better today. We've just got to make sure with the back that we're doing the right thing but we need to get him back out here as well. Cassius Marsh is ok. His knee is a little sore. But he's o.k. Jordan Zumwalt was a little dehydrated. He had the same problem last year. He's so lean, and he sweats so much that he has a tendency to get dehydrated so we're trying to keep his weight up and keep him feeling good. We're going full gear tonight, full pads, and we'll do live goal line and short yardage and we'll have a live period at the end so I'd like him to be out here doing that. So we took it off him a little this morning. We had the spider shells this morning. I though the work was good. The two-minute was great. Just getting down here where we had the fourth down situations. You just try to create those situations. It was good. Some young guys continue to impress. I look at two outside linebackers, Myles Jack and Deon Hollins. You see a couple of guys that really have tremendous skill set. It's a matter of seeing how they hold up mentally and then seeing how they hold up physically when we start really banging. I think things are going the way they're supposed to go.

On the young players:
For a guy (Jalen Ortiz) hadn't really played (receiver) and was more of a back. He's fluid, he's got burst, he can lower his center of gravity, he can change direction and he can accelerate. I like him. Darren Andrews is making plays. It seems to me, and maybe I'm just catching him at the right time, but it feels to me like Eldridge Massington is making progress and feeling more comfortable. Craig Lee seems to be more comfortable. Alex Redmond was back out there today, doing team stuff. He seemed to be doing ok and went all the way through. Thiggy is looking better.

On Andrews and Ortiz on special teams:
I think you need to. You get speed like that I think you need to find a way to use them. If we're going to use them, we need to use them enough that it doesn't warrant using a redshirt. If they can help us, we're going to use them. And they're getting to the point where they can help us.

On using freshman:
It's kind of a delicate deal. You're always trying to win right now. If you see a guy that can help you, my instinct is to use them. But I think you also have to be sensitive to the kid. If you're not going to use him to the extent that you get something out of him or he gets something out of it, you hate to waste that year just for a few plays. So we have to be really careful and discuss it before we put a guy in the game, or put him in a position where he can go into the game and burn his redshirt. At the same time, if a guy can help us, then we want to play them. I think a great example is Kenny Clark. You look at the way he's been playing, and you look at the way Ellis McCarthy is coming along, and that's two really good nose guards. Kenny Clark is an outstanding player but he's probably third in the rotation. He's probably capable of playing as a freshman, but I don't know if its worth it.  And I'm not going to give him five plays a game and waste his redshirt. We have to take every situation and evaluate it on it's own merits and make the best decision for us and the team. I felt like all the freshman that played (last year), got something out of it and we got something out of them. If you look back and you ask was there any freshman who played last year and it was a waste for, I don't get the feeling that there was. I've though about it a lot, because I don't want to cheat these guys.

On the offensive line:
You guys have noticed that for the last three practices at least, Caleb Benenoch has been in there with the first group. I'm not saying that it's his position, but we're trying to force feed him as much as we can. The thing about Caleb is he's strong and he's really physical when he gets his hands on guys and he's got a very high football IQ. He really understands the game and he was very well-coached in high school. The obvious thing is experience, when things start moving fast in front of him, when he starts getting stunts are looks, just processing the information. I don't know that any of these freshman are used to practicing or playing at the level we are. But he looks the part. Our offensive line, physically, they look how an offensive line is supposed to look.

On Nate Iese:
When he catches it in the flat, I'm not sure those little corners are going to want to tackle him. He's got these gigantic hands and he's tough. He's tougher than heck. I think he looks great there and I think there is a role for him. I don't know if you flex him out and ask him to run option routes, I think he'll get to that eventually. But you saw that little play where he's in the backfield and he bubbles out, you get him on the edge, he can go. Look at him, look how long his arms are. He's 6-4, 240. I wouldn't want to tackle him. He's a great athlete and he's a great kid and one of our hardest workers.

On Isaac Savaiinaea and Myles Jack:
Isaac brings maturity. It's not too big for him. He doesn't conduct himself like a freshman. We had Myles Jack take some of the dime stuff at inside linebacker and tried to work him in there. Those are two guys who are physically mature and emotionally mature. They're two guys that we look at that can help us immediately. We're going to try to give them as much work as we can. The thing we like about Isaac is he really understands the defense already. He's going to have some times where he might not be as quick to react as we'd like, but he's very mature. The game isn't too big for him. We put Myles down with the DBs during 1on1 and against the slots. If you play dime, and you're that dime linebacker, you have to move out and cover slots sometimes. Not necessarily in man-to-man a whole lot. We wanted to see how he did. His technique is not there and he grabs a lot, but his athleticism, it's unbelievable. He just lowers his center of gravity, changes direction and has amazing quickness. You'll see us continue to put him down there and cover some wideouts. I want to know if he can do it, or how close he can get technique wise. Those are the kind of guys you want to get on the field for you because they make you better.

On limiting sacks:
I think it probably is the offensive line protecting, the backs protecting and the receivers getting open. It's a function that Brett can't control. We all saw it. It's not a mystery. A lot of those sacks last year were Brett not wanting to concede a play. Or the time clock in his head isn't synced up to know that, ok, it's time to get rid of it. That's something we're emphasizing with him. I think he just understands the offense a lot better now and knows where everyone is supposed to be, I think that will help him in terms of making the decision to throw it away or getting out. When we went back to Pac-12 Media Day, the ESPN guys showed me some statistics and Brett, his completion percentage was really high. He was better on 3rd down and 2-minute then he was in game situations, but the thing that just crushed us was the sacks. They were pretty bad. Almost as bad as penalties. Maybe worse.

On the cooler weather helping them accomplish more:
I do think so. I like the heat, we'll get to about 90 today. Last year we were hovering about 105, 107. I like this temperature. And the fact that we spent those two days doing something different, we didn't need to come up here and it's just grueling. We haven't had to adjust the practices as much. Our guys are able to work at a high temp. I think we'll get more heat at the end of the week, but I think they've adjusted more.

On punt returners:
I didn't even look at them. You know what I was doing? Watching the protection so I didn't even turn around to see who was catching them. And I haven't asked Coach Ulbrich about it yet. Shaq is working on it, Ish is working on it, you see Jalen back there. I feel a lot more comfortable with our punt return situation then I did last year. Last year, I didn't even know who was going to be out there, but this year I feel more comfortable about it.

On Xavier Su'a-Filo staying at guard:
We're done. We're set. It will be (a relief) when we start playing games and he does well. You get Simon Goines out there and most of the day he goes against Anthony and both of them are getting better. He still has a couple of lapses in there but he's going against an all-American. And he's just going to get better because of it. I feel very confident with (Simon) there and feel very confident with Torian on the right side. I'm very confident with X and Jake and then we've just got to get Caleb up to speed. I've noticed our offensive line a lot less, which is a good thing.

On Jordon James:
Right now, he's #1 on the depth chart, but you guys know, the way we play it in games, Jordon is going to get snaps, Steven is going to get snaps, and Malcolm is going to get snaps and if Thiggy is back, he's going to get snaps, Perkins is going to get snaps. So those four or five guys are all going to get snaps. I think it will depend on situations, on who's hot. I feel like Jordon looks bigger to me, his ball security looks good, I don't want to jinx him. He's been hitting it more downhill. One of the things that Jordon and I have talked about in the past is Jordon is shifty and quick, and I like to see a guy who can put his foot in the ground and go down hill. Its a good group. Is Johnathan Franklin in that group? No. But maybe a future Johnathan Franklin is. You'll see some of our option plays where they'll go out and Brett will kind of throw it out there and it's almost like the old triple option. That guy has to have good hands because it's not a five-yard pitch, its a 20-yard pass.
 


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