VIDEO: Mora on Monday

Dec. 22 -- Coach Jim Mora talked about the team improving its bowl practices and the status of linebacker Zach Whitley...

On the spirits in practice:
It was a good practice. We have had 2-3 really good practices in a row and they've been very productive. Every day has gotten a little better and more towards we want. We want to get most of our heavy, physical padded work done here at UCLA, install the game plan, so when we get down to San Antonio, its a second time through and we'll have a complete game week as well.

On bowl practices for the youth:
First of all, our whole team is the young guys. We have one session for the 'young guys' but I guess every practice gives us a chance to evaluate them.

On Jordan Payton returning:
There was never a question. That came out of nowhere. He's never indicated that to me. We've talked about it 20 times, and he said 'of course, I'm coming back' so I don't know where that started. I never doubted it. There was never in my mind, a question if he would come back. Its going to help whoever is playing quarterback to have five guys on the offensive line who have been together, a running back corps who knows the system, a receiver group you're not losing anybody. The only guys we're losing on offense who've been significant are Brett, Malcom and Jordan and only one of those guys is a starter in Brett. Whoever steps in there, whether its Jerry or Asiantii or Mike or anyone else who comes in, they have some experienced people around them.

On Jordan Lasley on scout team:
He does a great job. And he challenges because he's so competitive. Its helped our defense and its helped Jordan as well, going up against Fabian and those guys every day. Aaron Sharp has been playing receiver on Scout Team since the Oregon game and he's competitive out there. I think it helps both sides, really good players going against each other, the competitive nature.

On Aaron Sharp:
He's a quarterback. We've been putting Mike there and getting him that work so rather than having Aaron standing on the sidelines, we put him on the field and he's big and physical and he runs. He's a quarterback.

On if Zach Whitley has been practicing:
No he has not. There is a reason. Yes, he's on the team.

On if this years defense is more NFL style:
No, I think you adapt to the teams you're playing and the styles you're going against. A little more four-down concepts but more the teams we're playing. You've seen how we use Myles at times. I wouldn't say that's accurate.

On if they're building a reputation for linebackers:
There is an excitement about it. That doesn't mean we'll get every linebacker we're going after. The only way you reach your goals, which for us is to win championships, is to go after the best players in the country so you have to overcome any disappointment by going after great players. We've found there is an interest in us because of the success our linebackers have had, because of the success Anthony has had, because of what EK has done, because of what Myles has done and now you've got Kenny Young coming along and playing early. You see that across the board, guys like Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes. You have to keep plugging away.

On Myles Jack fitting in to Eric Kendricks' shoes:
You have to ask Myles. Leadership comes in all shapes and styles. I don't think Myles will ever be a vocal leader, but will be a leader by example. We want to see who emerges and how they emerge. There is positive leadership and negative leadership.

On replacing Kendricks' leadership:
I haven't thought that far down the line. I'm focused on K-State. I haven't thought about how we're going to replace EK or Brett or Owa or AJ. I don't want to think about that.

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