VIDEO: Mora On Nick Pasquale

Coach Jim Mora talked about the impact of the player's death on the program...


Opening statement:
I'll just start over. As you guys know, it's a very tough time, for the kids here, for everyone who knew Nick, and most importantly, for his family. And that's where our thoughts and prayers are. What I'm trying to do is help our players deal with this and that's why we closed practice. Just, everyone is going to process this one differently, and everyone's emotions are going to be unique to themselves and I'm not sure that all of them know how to process their emotions yet so I think it's important that we have time to do that. I respect the job you have to do, but my job first and foremost is to watch out for the health and well-being of these kids short and long term. Its a tough deal. Nick was more than just a scout team player, as you guys know, because you guys are out here every day. He was a kid who epitomized everything you are looking for in a football player, from his spirit, his selfless work ethic, his commitment to the team, his toughness. When you see Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt, those three, there are a lot of kids that were very touched, but those are three, great players, that play on the other side of the ball of him, that don't have as much interaction with him as you'd think, and yet they were just devastated because of what he meant to them. The way he comes out on the field every day and practices, and his personality in the locker room. I'm just really happy that Nick got a chance to play on Saturday night. And I told the kids that they needed to understand, that they go out there every week and try to help each other reach their dreams and their goals. By us getting the big lead we did because of the fine work of some starters, guys like Nick, who's dream was to always play for UCLA, got a chance to run out on the Rose Bowl field and play in front of his parents, and that's something that his parents will have forever. It's just hard, you know. It's hard. We're all trying to figure out how to deal with it best and the best thing we can do as a team, is to be together, because we are a close team. But like I told them, the most important thing here is that we honor Nick and his family and I think the way we do that is in the way we play. It's not in the wins and losses it's in the way we play and I think our kids understand that. We're just trying to get through it.

On what challenges there are to harnessing the emotion and pointing them to Nebraska:
It's really hard and we've worked on Nebraska but we haven't gotten to that point with the kids because its raw and it's fresh. What I told them is that everyone on that team, everyone in that locker room has a different relationship with Nick. Whatever they were feeling wass ok. For those that wanted to cry, that was ok. For those who wanted to tell a funny story, that was ok. There's going to be kids in there who aren't going to feel a lot, and they shouldn't feel guilty about it. That's ok. I think that it's not necessarily about Nebraska, it's about, UCLA football was really important not just to Nick, but to his family. The fact that he got to play football was a dream come true for him and them and I think we need to honor that and shine the light on that with the way we play. So when they turn on the TV, our efforts reflect what their son was, and that's what I told them. That's what I told them.

On anything formal being done with Nick Pasquale's #36:
We're going to wear a 36 patch on our jersey. The reason I went with the jersey rather than the helmet is I want it to be prominent. I want people to see it. When it's on the helmet, it can blend, there is a lot of things on there. It's going to be here (on the chest). Nebraska players are going to wear a #36 on their helmets. Nebraska is a classy, classy institution as everyone knows and they're going to have a moment of silence before the game. And there will be other things we do that are in the works. I think what's important here is that we have to help his family through this, that's our job and our responsibility and one of the ways is to help them keep the memory alive. We can't just move on. Everyone says 'just move on'. You don't move on from these things. You move through them but you don't move on. So we've got to make sure that, one of the things why I'm here, and why I'm the head coach is I can't ever forget about this kid. I can't ever forget that there is a family out there that lost it's son. And what it meant for him to be a player here and what it meant to them for him to be a player here. We can't be numb to it. We have to be sensitive to it and I'll try to do my best to do that.

On Nick Pasquale being on the field for the first time against Nevada:
Here's what shows what our players thought about Nick. As coaches, you get caught up in the game. You get caught up in the game, and at some point in the game, you start thinking about guys you can put in to play. And it was our players, it was Jordan Payton and some of the other receivers who went up to Yarbs and said 'hey, you've got to get Pac-Man in, don't forget about Pac-Man, get Pac-Man in.' I've heard people say he was our Rudy. He wasn't our Rudy. He was our Rudy in the fact that he was inspirational, but he wasn't our Rudy because he could play football. We didn't just put him in to run a couple of plays, that kid was a football player.

On Nick Pasquale's toughness as a player:
It started out with "Pacquiao". I think it was the scout team that started calling him Pacquiao. Then it became Pac-Man because it's easier. Pac, Pac-Man, it became easier to say. He was a tough sucker, man, he was a tough sucker. He was what, 5-7, a buck 65, 70, but his heart jumped out of his chest. He played through pain, he gave it his all. He'd come across the middle and knew he was going to get whacked, and he'd just get up and talk smack. He'd talk crap to Jeff Ulbrich every single day on special teams. Every day he'd talk crap to Brick, saying 'you can't stop me, you can't block me.' He told his dad the other day, his dad told me this, he said 'dad, I think the coaches are starting to notice me.' And I told his dad, we didn't just start noticing your son, we've been noticing him since the day he walked on to this team. We're going to miss him. It hasn't hit, it will keep hitting. But like I said the most important thing for us, is his family. Being a parent myself, with a son that's about the same age, I can't even imagine what they're going through and I just want them to know we're all here for him. I know UCLA Bruin fans everywhere feel the same way, and that's one of the great things about being a part of a college community, is that people sincerely care. We will get information to you guys, because I know you guys will get the information out, with regards to if there is a service. If they want donations in lieu of flowers, if we're going to set up a foundation, anything like that for Nick, because I know there are fans out there that are interested in that and as soon as we get it, we'll pass it on to you guys because you guys are the links to the true fans.

On if there were grief counselors made available:
Today. Last night, a number of us went down, there was a memorial at San Clemente at 7 and we had a team meeting at 9 and at that point, it was just my gut feeling that the most important thing for our team was the players to be together, without people they didn't recognize, around. So that they could be raw and be who they were. But now there is people available to them and UCLA has great resources and they're available to them. Our team chaplain, our basketball team chaplain, both available. Everybody processes it in a different way and I told the kid's that's o.k.

On if he'd been through anything like this as a coach:
No, and I don't want to go through it again. You wouldn't wish it on anybody. Once again, it's about the feeling, about the mom and the dad, and his grandfather, who just got off an airplane coming back from his reunion, and it's about his aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers, and making sure that we protect them and show them that we love them and care about them and how much we loved their son. That's what, to me, that is what's important. They're they ones who need to feel loved.

On if it was the most emotional team meeting he'd been a part of:
It was dead quiet. It's not like you have a plan for something like that. It's not like I can write something down on a paper and say it to the kids and that would make it better. It was just very quiet. Yeah, it was quiet. This is a great group of kids. They care about each other. They really do. Yeah, they fight, but they're like a family. When you go through the things that we go through, you grow close. We're not talking about life and death or war, but some challenges, and they get close. So it affects them. But they're kids still. We have to help them figure out how they're feeling, how to get through it. It's unscripted for me and I'm going to do the best I can.

On his favorite memory of Nick:
What comes back to me was on Thursday when I rubbed his head cause he just shaved his head. I just have a lot, a highlight reel is going off in your head. Catching the ball. I don't know if there is one single memory. Just, what he represents, what he represented, how he played. How he cared about this game, how he cared about this team. If a star player, if something like this happened to a star player, you'd expect, maybe certain feelings. Well, those same feelings were there with Nick, because, the kids loved him man. They loved him. They loved him. It's been hard. It's been hard.


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