We did some Utah prep today. About 15 minutes worth. We got some good work from the younger guys. We did some live work for the younger players. Just trying to bring them along. It was a good day. These kids start class tomorrow. So they have some things to take care of this afternoon. We'll come out tomorrow and practice, then take a couple of days off. Then Sunday will be the start of our true Utah week. I like this schedule. I don't mind having these byes. I don't mind having the awkward week. I think it works to our advantage so we just have to work to get ready for Pac-12 play.
On how it works to their advantage:
It works to our advantage because it allows for some extra time to prepare for our opponent. It allows us some extra time to work with the younger players. I think this week it works to our advantage because these guys start school tomorrow so not having the distraction of having a game on Saturday allows them to focus in on school and getting organized in that part of their lives. They haven't had to deal with that in the first three weeks and now they do. So I just think it may be a little overwhelming to prepare for a game the first week of school. So I think it's just a real nice transition for them.
On if there is an ideal time for a bye:
I think last year we only had one bye, and this year we had two, and it's really two and a half because you have that Thursday game so you get a couple extra days before your next game. But I think if there was an ideal week, it would be the week that we start school. There is just so much going on, so much transition, they're moving into different dorms, they're trying to find their classrooms. They're getting used to a new practice schedule and going to mornings, so I think this is the perfect week to have a bye. I really like it and hope we can do it every year.
On how much help no school has been the first few weeks:
I think it's an advantage. I really do. I think it allows us to focus on football only. I think it's a tremendous advantage. But we still have to be able to make this adjustment going forward. We have to be able to balance academics and athletics and then the social part because the social part changes now as well. You add about 25,000 people to this campus that haven't been here for the past few weeks so everything kind of changes. That's why I think this week is really critical. But these kids know how to adjust and handle it well. We keep pretty close tabs on them.
On the early practice times helping:
I do, that's why we do it. We like to get them while they're fresh, before they're worn down from a day of class. We like to start the day on the field. We do a lot early anyway, our weightlifting sessions are in the morning. Then we bring them back later in the afternoon and we kind of book-end them. It's a great way to keep track of them, I think it's a great way to get them up and going early in the morning, I think it's a great way to feed them, because we feed them after practice and then we get to see them at the end of the day as well. I think at this age it's important that we keep track of them. We're responsible for them and this gives us a really great opportunity for them with their schedule.
On additional walk-on's:
We did that after the first game, and right now, there are no plans to add anyone else, unless someone shows up that we didn't know about, we're kind of locked in to what we've got.
On Damien Thigpen:
He's coming back for Utah, that's a definite. He's going to play against Utah. Now I can't tell you how many snaps he's going to play, it will be great to get him a few carries. It's not that you want your running backs hit, but when you're coming back from an injury like that, it's important that you take some shots. I think you build confidence when you do, so we need to get him some carries at least, and we will. It's hard because we have a lot of really good backs, but it's important that we get Damien some carries.
On if he's still worried about Thigpen getting hit:
I was three weeks ago, but I'm not anymore. And I'm not just because of his body language. He's very confident and he looks like he's going full speed through his cuts, he's not tip-toeing, he's hitting it. He doesn't look hesitant at all. He has a high degree of confidence which gives me a high degree of confidence.
On how he feels about Thigpen playing special teams:
Not yet. A gunner, fine. Anything like that I think is fine. We need to see him, he needs to play, carry the ball, from a running back position, before we put him back there on kickoff return. I just don't think that would be the prudent thing to do. There is still an aspect of protecting him and working him back at the right pace. Just to throw him back there to return kicks, I don't think that's smart. Now, who knows, 2-3 weeks down the road, because he is very explosive.
VIDEO: Mora on Wednesday