What are some of things that you need to take care of in this last month?
We have to continue to work to become more consistent in all phases of the game.
Is this the healthiest you guys have been heading into November?
No. We have 13 players that are injured and not playing with us this year. I just looked at it and it blew me away. let me give you some of the big names that aren’t playing. Darren Andrews, who played last year. Steven Manfro. Johnny Johnson. Randall Goforth. Kenny Orjioke. Simon Goines hasn’t played yet. So, no, but it doesn’t matter, we’re still playing.
That’s what I was getting at it, heading into November, part of it is dealing with the attrition, I would think…
Yeah. I think that offensively, up front specifically, we’re kind of finding our groove and getting a couple of guys back at the right time. You can count Conor McDermott as one of those guys who’s getting back, because he’s playing now. He’s played two games, but it’s been a long road for him. Now we’re getting Alex back. Alex played a couple of snaps on Saturday. Simon is ready to go if we need him. So, at least, up front, which is so important for us, we’re fairly healthy right now, while getting guys back.
Given the past, where you guys have kind of lost linemen en masse, does it make you more confident that you have some guys like Alex and Simon who are ready if needed?
Yeah. And I also think that Ben Wysocki has proven he can play. I think we all feel good about Kenny Lacy and the way he played in those games when Alex was down and before Conor wasn’t back yet at 100%. And then Poasi Moala has made a lot of strides, although he is a little bit further down the depth chart than those other guys.
Was there anything different defensively between how you guys started the game and how it went through the middle parts of the game?
No, just like I said, consistency. There were some guys, we rotate guys through a lot, which we have to do, specifically on the defensive line, and you get some guys in there who maybe are freshmen and haven’t played a lot of football. And as hard as they work to stay in their gap or play the correct technique, they just haven’t mastered it yet. And you pay for it a little bit. But that’s one of the things about building experience and building depth, you’re going to have some plays that aren’t pretty when you’re playing with freshmen or inexperienced players, and we’re doing that. And you have to live with it and hope you can win and learn from it. And the only way you get experience is to play, so you just have to be better the next time.
Can you tell the depth is getting better?
Oh yeah. God yes. It’s getting a lot better. We’re still a young football team. We’re still a growing football team. WE’re only two and a half years into our tenure here, and we’ve won 75% of our regular season games with a completely overhauled roster. I don’t know if you guys know that, but we’re 24-8 in regular season games here since we’ve been here, with a completely overhauled roster. So as much gloom and doom as there is out there, I would challenge anyone to go find a UCLA team in the history of UCLA that has done what this group has done in two and a half years, with the youth that we have and the turnover we’ve had. Let’s all remember that the last game UCLA played before this whole thing started was a 50-0 ass-kicking.
With the youth on the defense, how important has Eric Kendricks been?
Oh god, what a great game he played. He’s had some great games this year, productive games, he’s had some productive games this year, where when you look back at the film you go, “man, great game, except for…” This week, he just had a great game. Even those weeks where he won the Lott Impact award for defensive player of the week, even those games he didn’t play nearly as well as he played yesterday. I think we’ve talked about it, where his numbers are so great that there’s a play here or a play there where he might make the tackle but it was down the field, but there was none of that yesterday. He was great. It was a reflection of the practices that he had. He was great all week in practice.
It seems like Myles played pretty well defensively…
He did OK. He did OK. He can play better. He will play better. He’s still developing. Eddie Vanderdoes played very well, He played outstanding.
When you look at Myles’ game right now, where do you think he has to develop the most as a linebacker?
Rushing the passer. He’s not a natural yet rushing the passer. He really hasn’t done it a whole lot. He’s got the skill set, but it’s not natural for him yet. He’s getting better at it. Then just like all young players, consistency, seeing the looks over and over and over again and doing the repetition, achieving a consistency of play. Eliminating those “if only” plays. Or he played a great game “except for” those two plays. Just working hard to eliminate those “Except for” plays.
Was there anything different that stood out about watching Brett’s game after watching the film?
He ran it extremely well. He was at his best when we needed him to be with two great runs, one to get it down tight and the other to win it. He didn’t throw it as accurately as he has through the course of the season. You know, going into the game, he was completely 72.5% of his passes, which is extraordinary, and he wasn’t at that level yesterday. He had some guys open that he missed, and he wouldn’t normally miss. But like I told him yesterday, only average people are always at their best. But great performers are able to overcome kind of a tough day and still make the play when they need to make the play to help the team win, and he did that yesterday. So to me that’s the mark of a true competitor.
Jim Mora's Sunday Teleconference
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