Mora's Sunday Teleconference

OCT. 19 -- Head coach Jim Mora talks about Marcus Rios, Takkarist McKinley, and Mossi Johnson's contributions...

Does getting back into the Top 25 signify that all sins are forgiven, that the writers thought you were worthy of getting back into the Top 25?

I have no idea. I don't pay any attention to that stuff.

What went into giving the game ball to Marcus Rios last night?

I guess just everything the kid's been through, to have a moment like that, I guess we all felt it should be recognized.

You guys don't do that very often...

That was a first. That was a first. In Pro Football, every win, you give a game ball out. In college, I guess it's just not something they do.

Was that the first for the season, or since you've been here?

Since I've been here. It just made sense.

When Marcus first came back, how far off were you thinking he was before he might play?

Quite far. I want to say he was in the 160, 165, 168 pound range. I know he was under 170 pounds. He was lean. He hadn't been involved with the competitive part of it for a long time. Heck, he was fighting for his life, let alone fighting to dcover a guy downfield. Marcus never says a lot. He just works. That's kind of just his makeup. He just works. It wasn't like every day, you'd walk out and say "oh, Marcus, he looks small" or "he looks thin" or "he looks like he hasn't been around." It's kind of been how it's been since he got here. I remember that first spring, if you remember, because he got in early, and those first few practices of the spring, he just kind of was out of place. And then all of a sudden, you stopped noticing that he was out of place, and you started noticing that he was making plays, and looking more comfortable and more confident. It's kind of like the same thing now. He's just slowly, surely, quietly, and confidently fighting his way back.

Did you get a status update on Thomas Duarte and Paul Perkins?

No, just preliminary. We'll find out more as the week goes on.

Is there anything on Fabian Moreau's stinger?

No.

The things that you went through earlier in the season, does this make you guys better able to handle the expectations and the pressure going forward, next season and beyond?

I think they're over it. I don't think anyone really listened to it that much. But even though you try to ignore it, and we don't talk about it, you still feel it to a certain extent. As I kind of alluded to yesterday, this team is just so incredibly young, and experiences like what we've been through will help us grow as we continue through the years. You look at our team right now, and on offense, Jordon James and Malcolm Bunche are really the only two guys that play that are seniors. On defense, Anthony Jefferson and Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and then on special teams, it's Ryan Hofmeister. And I don't think I'm really missing anybody. And everyone else seems to be just like sophomore, or a few juniors thrown in there. It's an amazingly young group of talented young players who will have to experience some things before they come of age. So I think anytime you have to go fight for wins, and you get a win, it makes you better the next time around. We've been really resilient on the road this year.

What did you see from Takkarist McKinley just watching him again on film?

Energy and effort. He plays with great energy and tremendous effort. And he can run. He can really run, and he's explosive and powerful. And I think he's going to be a very very good player here over the next few years.

Was there something you saw through the week of practice that made you decide to give him a little more time in this game?

It's what we've seen since he's been here. He's made an adjustment to this level of play and gotten himself more familiar with what we do defensively. He's just working himself more into the packages. It wasn't anything he did last week, it's just a culmination of the work he's been doing.

When you see the progress he's made in the short time he's been here, does it make you think about what he's going to look like four weeks from now?

No, I don't really think that far down the road. I just really like the progress he makes. He works hard every day in practice, he plays hard every play in games. He never gives less than his best effort. He's incredibly focused. For a guy to make the transition the way he's made it says a lot about his maturity and his focus, because his story is very unlike anyone else's. He came in after the season started, from a junior college, where he really hadn't been playing because he was hurt. His future was in flux. Heck, a few days before he came down here, people were talking about where he was going to take his official visits this year. Next thing you know, he's on campus playing in a game. It's pretty unique. And I think that when they do the recruiting stuff next year, we should get credit for him. I'm just glad he's on our team. I really like him.

Same with Mossi Johnson. He was a very productive part of our win yesterday. The return he had on kickoff, and then the catches he had, and some of the blocks he made. He was really impressive.

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