VIDEO: Mora on USC Rivalry

NOV. 18 -- Coach Jim Mora talked about the meaning of the USC game, for the program and the season, and the impact o recruiting...

Opening statement:
A good start today. This is a big game as everyone knows, and we're playing an excellent football team so we have to have a great week of preparation and go out Saturday and play our best game. So that's our focus. I thought this morning was a good start. I like where we are and I think they're excited to play this game. Its always fun to play your crosstown rival. Its always nice to have something at stake. When I got here, one of the things I heard is that its great to have this game, one with meaning and consequence in the Pac-12 if not nationally and this one does. It adds to what is already an amazing rivalry.

On if they have to tone down the emotions with so much at stake:
I think its important that we follow our mantra of don't listen to the noise and control what we can control. Not get caught up in the hype. We've matured this season as a football team where we can handle it right now better than earlier in the year. I think we learned our lesson.

On how much of it is UCLA against itself:
That's kind of what we always talk about. You can't ignore the significance of this game or rivalry and what it could potentially mean for both teams. Our goal is to come out and play against our standard. We have a saying where you prepare for your opponent but you play against your standard and I think that hits the nail on the head and we're trying to do that every week. I think we're headed in the right direction. Maybe earlier in the year, I don't think we got ahead of ourselves but maybe the outside world, didn't understand the youth on this team. I was talking to some NFL scout today and we only play five seniors. And I think because Brett was so prominent and because we finished up strong last year, people may have put us in a place that we didn't deserve to be yet. And now I think we've worked ourselves in a position that if we play well and stay focused, we'll see where we deserve.

On if the team still heard the outside noise:
I think its conceivable. As much as you preach it, there is so much out there. We didn't have as much access to information but these kids have so much access to information but as much as you tell them to ignore it, they read it, they hear it and see it.

On if he thinks they've adjusted:
I do believe that they have, I really do. Just the things I've heard them say, their mindset from what I can read, I do believe they have adjusted and I'm proud of them for that. I'm proud that they didn't let it get away from them when they suffered those two losses, and reorganized and regrouped.

On if it helps dealing with early expectations at this point:
It probably helps, being on a pedestal so early. Having all of that attention. Regardless of all that, this is such a great game. I didn't understand the significance of this rivalry until I got here. Regardless of anything else, it means a lot to this city. Its a special game to play in. Part of it is the pageantry of both teams out there in their home uniforms. Its still different.

On if its the talking from both sides that he didn't understand:
I'd only been involved with this game one time and I was 12 years old. It was not part of my orbit. It wasn't something I thought about a lot. Until you experience something, you don't know what it means. Dick Vermeil (was coach) and it was the year my dad was here.

On how much a win over USC validates the season:
I don't think you want to put your eggs in all that basket, ever. I'm not a guy who talks about must wins. I think every week you have to talk and perform and validate it. You have to validate it the next week. That's the part of being a consistently good football team. And that's what we're trying to be.

On how much their two wins have changed the recruiting landscape:
I don't know that it has. So many of the young men, the kids in this area, grew up as USC fans and that nine-game winning streak. I don't know if its changing or not. I don't know we go head to head. There is so much talent in this area. Its a tremendous hotbed of talent. Everyone is going to get their share. I think its neat to see local kids wanting to stay home and go to their school or our school and that's what is going to be good for our city and good for this area.

On if a third win in a row could change the narritive:
I don't think too much about that, I concentrate on what we're trying to do this week. I can't speak for them, but what happened in the past doesn't matter towards what happens on Saturday. We have to play our best football on Saturday.

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