VIDEO: UCLA's Mora at Pac-12 Media Day

Jul 30 -- Bruin head coach Jim Mora talked about the uncertain quarterback situation, the rest of his personnel, expectations for the season, and more at Pac-12 Football Media Day...

Jim Mora took questions from the media at Pac-12 Football Media Day.

Part 1:



Part 2:



Part 3:



Transcript:

COACH MORA:  Good morning.  I'll make a brief statement and introduce our two student-athletes that are here with me today.  We're really excited about this upcoming season.  Lot of things that we're looking to accomplish.  We've had a tremendous off-season of work in the weight room and on the practice field, and I'm excited about the direction that we're headed as a program and as a team. 

 The obvious question for us this year that I've been asked already a hundred times in the last two days is, who is our quarterback going to be?  So I can just tell you right now before anyone asks me again, I don't know.  When I know, I'll let you know. 

 With that, I'll introduce two outstanding young men, great representatives of not only UCLA, but I believe college football and their families and themselves who are here today with me.  Our first one is our starting center, Jake Brendel, he'll be a four-year starter, three-year captain.  Tremendous, tremendous young man who does it the right way and gets it. 

            The second young man is outside linebacker rush end from Houston, Texas who had a tremendous year last year, and in my opinion is growing into a great football player and once again an outstanding young man, and that is Deon Hollins, so they'll be with us here today.

 

 Q.  How confident are you looking at the quarterback situation as far as being able to make a decision? 

 COACH MORA:  With regards to the quarterback situation, I think the thing that gives me some measure of comfort is knowing that we've got a pretty veteran group around that player, whomever it may be.  We've got an experienced offensive line.  We return the Pac-12's leading rusher in Paul Perkins as well as some other really good backs.

 We've got an experienced and pretty talented receiving core, though may not with the marquis name.  So it's very unlike Brett's situation three years ago, where Brett had to step in and do a lot.  Whoever has taken snaps from Jake can depend on those around him a little bit more than maybe Brett was able to do.  So that gives me a little comfort.

 

 Q.  You talked about the defense.  How do they look in your eyes?

 COACH MORA:  We'll see when we start playing.  We have a new defensive coordinator in Tom Bradley who I think has brought a lot to our program.  From an experience standpoint, he's mature.  He's had a tremendous amount of success at this level.  He's been great for me to be around, having spent so many years with Coach Paterno.  He has a unique perspective and a fresh perspective, so I'm excited about that.  I think our players have embraced his philosophy, his personality.  I think they're excited about what we're doing schematically and the aggressive nature that we're going to play with in terms of trying to force our opponent to adjust to us.  I'm excited to see where we go.  We've returned a pretty good group there.  We've lost some great players as well.  When you lose the Butkus Award winner, and impact award winner in Eric Kendricks, those are some shoes to fill.  But that's college football.  We have some guys excited to step up and play in his he is place.

 

 Q.  What does Deon Hollins bring to the table? 

 COACH MORA:  He's an explosive pass rusher.  He's got an amazing first step.  Sometimes officials are getting ready to reach for their flag because he looks like he's getting off before the snap, but he's not.  He studies the game.  It's important for him to be good.  He's developed physically, and he's become a player that we see reaching the potential that we recognize when we recruited him.

 

 Q.  What have you seen from Josh Rosen since spring practice?  Physically, development? 

 COACH MORA:  I haven't seen Josh as much.  There are a lot of rules that limit us to seeing him.  He's come through my office.  I haven't seen him throw.  I haven't seen him work out.  But I know he's put on some weight.  He's about 215 pounds.  He looks solid.  I think he's a unique kid.  You hear that phrase mature beyond his age.  I don't know about that.  I think he's got a high football IQ.  He's very competitive.  So I'm excited to see how he competes along with Jerry and Mike.

 

            Q.  What do you see from Jake Brendel as far as his leadership is concerned? 

Especially in the spring? 

                       COACH MORA:  Jake is very mature. 

He's very passionate.  He commands respect of his teammates.  Like I said, he'll be a captain again this year, a three-year captain.  When you do the captain votes it's very rare that a ballot doesn't have Jake's name on it.  That's how highly his teammates think of him.  He's been a very consistent performer at UCLA.  There is a lot heaped on his shoulders this spring, and he responded very, very well.  He comes out every day with the mindset to compete and get better.  I think he's a great teammate, great team member.  I feel very fortunate to have been able to spend what will now be our fourth year together.

 

 Q.  What can you tell us about your experience with the Special Olympics?  I read that you walked out with Nepal with the opening ceremony? 

 COACH MORA:  I've been involved with Special Olympics for over 30 years.  My wife Shannon's older sister has Down syndrome, so we got involved with it as a couple then, and she's been involved with it forever.  My wife serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington State Special Olympics and the Georgia State Special Olympics.  We've been honorary chairs of

Louisiana, Georgia, and Washington State games.  Then this year we were asked to be the honorary chairs for the beach communities.  So we hosted Hungary and in a ball down in Manhattan Beach and took their athletes to the beach, which was really, really cool to see some, I call them kids, they're not kids, athletes that have never been in the ocean, in the ocean boogie boarding and body surfing and things like that. 

 But the highlight for me was being able to walk in with in a ball on Saturday night at the Coliseum.  It's a small contingent.  Only five athletes.  I think nine total people.  You're talking about a country that suffered a devastating tragedy with the earthquake.  They saw millions of people living in the streets.  It was a tremendous challenge for them to even be able to get to Los Angeles and participate in the state games. 

 But the energy that you felt walking down that tunnel and walking out on to the stage and being able to listen to the motivational speakers or the speakers that were so motivational, it was amazing.  I think it puts a lot of things in perspective.  These athletes, it's not always about winning and losing, it's about competing and the joy in competing.  So it's eye opening.

 

 Q.  Talk a little about how tough it might be to have two scholarship quarterbacks? 

 COACH MORA:  Three.  Mike has a scholarship.

 

            Q.  But (Indiscernible) Willard having left?

 COACH MORA:  Well, hopefully we only play with one.  I'm still adjusting in some ways to college football, so my perspective, I think, is sometimes a little different than others.  In the NFL you have three quarterbacks and that's a lot.  You hope you never get to number three.  So I kind of look at it that way, and maybe I'm wrong in looking at it that way and you have to continue to build your roster with young players. 

 But I'm confident that we have three players that any one of them can step in and be productive if they depend on the people around them.  The people around them do their jobs and we play good defense and good special teams, and I think we will.

 

            Q.                     What's the       biggest,            burning question you are eager to see answered during the fall?

 COACH MORA:  I'm interested to see if the level of maturity that I felt through spring ball was in fact what I believed it to be.  I felt like our team reached a level of maturity that we'd been striving for.  The level of maturity indicated an element of mental toughness and consistent that we've been looking for.  I felt like we reached that to some level in spring ball.  I want to see if that was real and if we can maintain that through the three weeks leading up to the Virginia game and then through the course of the season.

 

 Q.  Does it hamper the offense not having a quarterback officially named? 

            COACH MORA:  I think there is that potential.  There is always that potential and it's something you have to be concerned with.  Any time you can make decisions and put people in place so there is some synergy, especially offensively, it's helpful.  But regardless of who the quarterback is, the system's not going to change dramatically.  They're all very similar in their skill sets and what they can do and what we're going to do offensively.  What I am after is competition because I think competition brings out the best in everybody.  It's trying to balance wanting that great competition with wanting to have that synergy that is so important on offense.  That's where it gets tricky, and hopefully we do a good job of that.

 

            Q.         You've auctioned         off        your football memorabilia for Avery Huffman, why was that an important cause? 

 COACH MORA:  Well, because I'm human, and the Huffman family was hurting and they needed our help.  It wasn't me.  It was the Bruin community, to me, that made these tremendous gestures.  I've talked to Tracy a lot about it, and so many things that people don't know that haven't come out about people reaching out through the Bruin community around the country to offer their support of Avery.  I just felt like it was something that I could do to maybe set an example and help.  That's what I think you're supposed to do.  I think that's part of being a productive human being is helping others that are being helped.

 

            Q.  Is that something you have done before?

 COACH MORA:  I do it sometimes for my foundation which benefits at-risk and in-need youth.  But with Tracy that helped me with this, we saw it as a way to give people unique opportunities to experience things that they may not be able to experience.  At the same time help a family and a young lady who desperately needed help. 

 So I just would encourage everybody to find a way to help somebody that needs our help.  We're all very fortunate.  I'm incredibly fortunate.  I have four very healthy children, a great wife, a great family, tremendous job, lucky.  You just don't want to ever take those things for granted.  Huff is a great dude, and that's a hurting little girl, so you do what you do.  You help them.  That's what we're supposed to do.  That's what we're all supposed to do.

 

 Q.  Thoughts of the current state of the Pac-12 South? 

 COACH MORA:  Well, I've been getting a lot of those Pac-12 south questions, and it's a tremendously competitive division.  I think as a whole, the Pac-12 is tremendously competitive.  It's hard for me to anoint the Pac-12 south.  We haven't even won the Pac-12 Championship in years.  But I can tell you, whoever comes out of the Pac-12 south representing the south in the Pac-12 Championship game will have earned it, day-in, and day-out, week-in, and week-out on that field because it's going to be as challenging as it gets.  We'll be battle hardened and ready for whatever is next.

 

 Q. You've been in the conference now a few years.  What is the biggest challenge on the recruiting trail recruiting against some of these coaches? 

 COACH MORA:  Well, it's competitive because it's a lot of high-profile coaches, lot of exciting brands of football being played around the conference.  Every city that a Pac-12 school is located in is a desirable location.  Academically challenging.  So for parents that are interested in that, every campus offers something unique.  I think California is very unique in that we have so much talent.  Southern California to the state of California, it is imperative that we try to recruit our share of athletes to UCLA. 

 But it's a daily battle.  You can't take a day off.  Whether that is direct message through Twitter or Facebook or connecting through a phone call, it's important that every day you try to stay connected.  Recruiting has changed a whole lot in just the three years or four years I guess now that I've been doing it.

 

 Q.  This time of the year going into camp, is it exciting? 

                  COACH MORA:  No, I'm always excited. 

Every year for me is a new proposition, a different proposition.  I can't say I'm more or less excited.  There are always questions that need to be answered.  There are always expectations that you're trying to meet.  I'm talking about internal expectations. 

 For me, I love to coach football.  I love to compete and be around these men.  I'm pretty blessed to be able to do what I'm doing.  I'm always excited.  Usually pretty fired up on the football field.

 

                 Q.  When you talk to your team, do you

talk about winning the national title or the Pac12 title?? 

 COACH MORA:  We are talking about the process more than anything right now.  I think that's something we learned through last year, the expectations that were placed on us.  Maybe even though we tried not to look that far down the road, at times we took what we were trying to accomplish on that day.  Right now our emphasis is becoming mentally tough, disciplined, focused football team that plays with consistency and tries to be better today than we were yesterday and tomorrow than we were today.  And that's where we're going right now.

 

 Q.  You're sort of hinting at this, but last year there were a lot of high external expectations.  You guys were a hot team this time of year.  How would you compare that to the feeling that you're getting this year?  Do you feel like you're a little more of a sleeping giant potentially?  Not that you want to brag, but, you know? 

 COACH MORA:  I think we're a team that has potential.  I think we have a gigantic unanswered question at a prominent position, quarterback.  I think we've got a group of men that are very dedicated to trying to be the best that they can be.  And we have to maintain that focus.  As I said, find that level of consistency that we have not been able to attain in the last three years.  If we can do that, then we'll have a chance.  But that's a tough task.  It's something we have to focus on every single day.

 

 Q.  Last year you invited the Pac-12 Networks into your program.  You're seeing these other programs trying to do that in house and create that experience.  I wonder what you thought of that experience, and would you do it again? 

 COACH MORA:  I would absolutely do it again.  I thought the Pac-12 Network did a tremendous job.  They were unobtrusive.  They didn't get in the way.  They assimilated very well to our team.  They gave us editorial control, so the message was our message.  They're easy to work with.  They're fun to work with.  I think they want to tell the positive stories.  I think sometimes people would liken it to what HBO does, with the NFL. 

What was it called?  Hard Knocks. 

 It was not always painted in a positive picture because some of the storylines weren't positive and there was drama.  What the Pac-12 did a great job of is telling the stories of these tremendous and unique student-athletes and also the story of our school and our program.  So for us, it was a great experience and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

 

 Q.  Have you experienced any tangible benefits from the community outreach? 

 COACH MORA:  I don't know.  I think what it did is it gave us a chance to expose our program to people nationwide.  Kids, families that we were maybe interested in recruiting or were interested in UCLA.  But I don't think on signing day anyone signed it and said, hey, man, I signed because of the drive.  But I do think that it helped our fans, which to me is one of the most important elements of your program.  Get a deeper look into why we do what we do, and to some of the personalities on the team that they really only see from the stands or on TV.  That's neat.  When you get to spend 20 minutes learning about Jordan Payton and his love of the fashion world, or Jake Brendel and his motorcycle, or Kenny Clark and his family history, those are great stories about these student-athletes that need to be told.

 

 Q.  What do you think the glut of quarterback talent in the league right now is going to mean for quality style of play this season? 

 COACH MORA:  When you say glut, what do you mean? 

 

 Q.  There are a lot of quarterbacks.   COACH MORA:  Okay, I wasn't sure if there were not a lot or there are.  It's crazy.  It's crazy how many great quarterbacks there are in this conference.  They're all so different.  Because they're great college players doesn't mean they'll go on to be great NFL players, but they're great college players and they present different challenges every week.  When you talk about -- I'll pull out three names.  You talk about Kessler, and Solomon, and Goff.  I'll just pull out those, and talk about Bercovici, too.  They're all tremendously effective in doing what they do, yet they're all so unique in the way they play the game, so it presents real challenges for you defensively.

 

 Q.  If Rosen, his ceiling, does he fit in with that group in what he's capable of?   COACH MORA:  I don't know, we'll see. 

He hasn't taken a snap at this level.  So I don't want to put too many expectations.  I'll let others put expectations on them.  I think if Josh reaches his potential every day at the end of his time at UCLA we'll look back and say he was a success.

 

 Q.  How are you injury-wise to some of the players that didn't participate in spring? 

 COACH MORA:  I think we're in good shape.  There are always thinks that come up.  They always do, the unforeseen.  But the latest injury report I got was positive, and hopefully it stays that way, but it won't.

 

             Q.  Kene Orjioke, how's he? 

 COACH MORA:  He's made a lot of progress, and I don't know what his status will be for the start of camp.  Simon Goines has made a lot of practice.  I don't know what his workload will be like at the start of camp.  Hopefully both of those guys are cleared for full activity.

 

             Q.  Caleb? 

 COACH MORA:  Caleb looks great.  I saw Caleb Monday in my office.  He looks good.  He said he feels good, and he said his legs never felt better.

 

 Q.  Scott Quessenberry, is he still a red-shirt? 

 COACH MORA:  Yeah, Quess, Scott had both shoulders done later on in the season, then Randall did.  Randall's ready to go forth; Scott's not.  The plan is to red-shirt him and give him a chance to heal completely.  It's just too hard to play at this level with that position with two completely repaired shoulders.  It wouldn't be fair.

 

 Q.  Are you moving Scott to center for when Jake leaves? 

 COACH MORA:  Well, I don't know.  I think that's a long ways down the road.  We'll worry about that in the spring.  I want to try to win games this fall before I worry about where our red-shirt's going to play.

 

 Q.  Is Goines and Benenoch both healthy?  Would you move (Indiscernible) to right tackle? 

 COACH MORA:  I considered all 22 players in our kicker, snapper and holder and punter to all be battling every single day for their positions.  How about that? 

 

 Q.  Even though you haven't seen them, you've gotten some reports from workouts from your strength and conditioning.  What's the report been on (Indiscernible)?

 COACH MORA:  I actually haven't.  I'm not allowed to get reports.  I did get a report from one of our players who kind of happened to say this kid looks really good.  But I don't want to go any deeper than that with them.  Because I know Sal's not allowed to talk to me about it.  I think the players probably are, but when I was talking to this young man, it wasn't necessarily about that.  But I've heard from this player that he looks pretty special.

 

 Q.  Where is Steven Manfro at coming back from his ACL? 

 COACH MORA:  Interestingly enough, that is another name that came up with this player that I was talking to, and he said I didn't know that Steven Manfro was so fast.  So taking that as if he's ready to go.  Talking to our athletic trainer Anthony Venute, and Dr. DiFiori, they've indicated he's ready to go.  He's a guy that I think has flown under the radar because he didn't play last year.  Was talking about Paul Perkins and Nate Starks, and Soso, and Craig Lee, and let's not forget about Steven Manfro.  He's been a productive player for UCLA.

 

 Q.  Do you anticipate him being part of this offense? 

 COACH MORA:  Yeah, we're going to try to get as many guys involved as we can.  I think it's important to try to create a role for every player on your team so they feel significant, they feel important, and they feel valued.  I think you get the best out of them when you create that environment.

 

 Q.  You may not realize that you're a senior this year?

             COACH MORA:  I'm a senior? 

 

 Q.  How would you say you evolved in your four years?  How would you say you are as a senior? 

 COACH MORA:  You'd probably be better at making that distinction than me.  I think I'm more patient.  I don't think my expectations have changed nor my intensity or passion has changed.  I think it's probably channelled in a better direction.  I've made a lot of mistakes in my career, lot of mistakes as we all have in life.  You try to learn from them.  I think I'm continuing to do that and apply them going forward.   But I know this, I'm really enjoying what I'm doing.  I love it.  Every day going to work is a joy for me.  Being at UCLA is tremendous, and being involved in college athletics and having a chance to work with these student-athletes at this point in their life is very rewarding.  It's what I want to do.  So I'm happy right now.

 

 Q.  I know yesterday you said your focus was the first game of the season.  Obviously the rivalry with USC.  Where do you think you're at?  You've won the last three.  Have you looked ahead to what the game will be like this season? 

 COACH MORA:  No, I honestly haven't.  That's not my nature.  I just feel like it's a disservice to everybody involved in our program, fans, students, players.  If you start -- my lessons in the way I am, if I start looking ahead and I lose focus on what I need to focus on.  So when I've failed, it's because I've looked ahead.  So that is one thing I've learned is don't look too far down the road.  So I'm looking at Virginia.  Actually, I'm looking at August 9th, San Bernardino.

 

 Q.  Was it awkward sitting on the set yesterday with Steve Sarkisian? 

 COACH MORA:  No, Steve and I have a great relationship.  We go way back.  He helped me get involved with college football.  I have a lot of respect for him.  Our relationship has changed because now we're crosstown rivals.  It's not as friendly.  We compete every day in recruiting and once a year on Saturdays.  But, no, it's never awkward being around Sark for me.

 

 Q.  There was a point last season where you said you thought your team played better as an underdog.  Do you feel like you get to enter the season with more of that edge this year? 

 COACH MORA:  We don't have the expectations that are placed on us.  Hopefully we won't have the focus on us.  I would like no one to ever rank us, and I'd like no one to ever cover us, and I'd like to never be on TV and no one talk about us until the end of the year, but that's not going to happen.  I think what's important is that we -- I've talked about -- focus on being the best we can be that day.  It's hard to do, especially when you're dealing with these young men that are so influenced by social media and have so much access to information and what is being said about them.  It's hard to maintain that focus.  But we've got to strive to do that.  It's not easy, but it's our goal.  If we can do that, we'll be okay.

 

 Q.  Coach, speaking of the Virginia game, I've heard different coaches say from first games sometimes working out of the spring (No microphone) how are you going to handle that?  And that was a pretty tough game for you at the end of the year.  Tell us about those games?

 COACH MORA:  Well, their defense kicked the dog out of our offense, and fortunately our defense played well and gave is a chance to win.  We take the approach that John Wooden always had, which is take care of your own house and worry about fundamentals and technique and your assignments.  Then we'll start preparing for Virginia in earnest a week and a half before that game.  I think sometimes when you start too early things can become stale for your players.  At least that's my experience. 

 So we'll start working on them about a week and a half before the game.  We'll know what to expect, I think, based upon some of the things they did last year.  We were playing with a quarterback who was entering his third year as a starter, and they blitzed us like crazy.  They're going to be seeing a quarterback that's never taken a snap.  So I would imagine they're -- no, I never started -- you know, your ears went up.  That's never started a game.  I'm toying with the idea of not even playing with with a quarterback in that game, and just going with, what do they call it? 

The Wildcat, the whole game.  So we'll see. 

 

 Q.  Talk about your team speed overall?   COACH MORA:  Our team speed has improved.  It's something we're always trying to improve upon.  Our guys benefit greatly from our strength and conditioning program.  We have in my opinion the finest strength and conditioning coach in the country.  We have access to guys like Jim Bush who is a world famous track & field coach.  We try to access all those things.  So our team speed has improved.  It's not where we want it.  It never will be.  We're always going to try to get faster.  But really functional speed is what you're looking for.  Speed on the football field between the lines, not so much the 40 time.

 

 Q.  On a national level, was there an opportunity lost with USC down the last four years?  Or does that not make a difference?  How is the rivalry now that they're the favorites to win the Pac-12?  How does that affect you at this point with the opportunity, if it was lost the last four years? 

 COACH MORA:  Like what opportunity lost?  To beat them? 

 

 Q.  To get to a National Championship Game or something like that?

            COACH MORA:  I'm sorry.  I don't understand the question, not to be rude or disrespectful.  I mean, we beat them three years in a row.  I don't know about any lost opportunity there.  Winning a National Championship is more than just beating your crosstown rival.  It's about beating Stanford, which we haven't done.  Beating Oregon, which we haven't done.  Not having those missteps that we've had along the way at times that have kind of ruined our chances. 

 We went into last year's Stanford game with a legitimate chance.  Maybe not a completely realistic chance, but a legitimate chance to maybe get into the playoff.  I shouldn't say we laid an egg.  We didn't lay and egg.  Stanford beat us soundly. 

USC's never down.  Come on, man, it's USC.

 

 Q.  What are your expectations for Eddie Vanderdoes? 

 COACH MORA:  I think Eddie is a tremendous talent.  He's had two successful seasons for us.  When you're a defensive lineman your name isn't always the first one that people say or talk about.  But he's lived up to the expectations that we had for him when he came in as a five-star recruit.  He's a unique player and an amazing athlete.  We stood on the field at Colorado last year, and he hit the goal post with the football from 70 yards away. 

 I don't know if you know this, but he was a really good high school pitcher and he's a lefty.  We call him Kung Fu Panda.  You remember, we don't convert, and the game is over, and we lost the game anyway, and we throw it to Eddie coming out of the back field on a bootleg pass.  So he's a unique athlete.  He's going to have a great year.  He's had a good off-season, and I think he's anxious to play well.

 

             Q.  Who is your fourth quarterback? 

                 COACH MORA:  Our fourth quarterback? 

No, we're going to go Wildcat all year.

 

                    Q.  Would you slide Caleb to guard if

Simon wins the right tackle? 

 COACH MORA:  We're open to anything really.  But the one thing I don't want to do is great a situation where there are too many moving pieces.  I think we've gotten to a point where there is some consistency, finally, amongst the offensive line.  Even with the back-ups, we can slide a back-up in and really have that guy be a guy that's played a lot. 

 So as much as we can remain consistent in how we practice and playing games with that personnel, I think it's going to benefit us.  But, yeah, we'd be open to anything, but not necessarily anxious.

 

 Q.  Do you have a deadline for the starting quarterback to be named?

 COACH MORA:  No, I remember three years ago I did it with Brett and Kevin and those guys and then we decided before that.  I think it just happens when it happens.

 

 Q.  With Justin Combs, is he still on the team?

 COACH MORA:  We've had no changes to our roster.

 

 Q.  I hate to beat the quarterback thing, but I spent the last two days at the Mountain West and all of those coaches have quarterback situations.  And I asked almost every one of them if they would consider using two.  We got a wide variety of some coaches saying never, and some saying maybe.  Is that a possibility for you? 

 COACH MORA:  I'd rather use one.  I think that is the most beneficial way to build your team and consistency is to use one.  But we'll see.  My gut instinct is to name a guy and support the hell out of him.  That's what I've tried to do.

 

 Q.  But you wouldn’t be opposed to it?  COACH MORA:  I'm for whatever seems to work.  I think every situation is fluid.  You start to become dogmatic as a coach and you lose opportunities to grow.  So you have to be open to change if it's going to benefit your team and help you become better.

 

 Q.  You talk about consistency and the system.  Last year the team had an awful lot of penalties?

            COACH MORA:  Last year?  Heck, every year.

 

 Q.  What have you done during spring, and what do you anticipate doing during camp to cut down on the number of penalties?   COACH MORA:  That's a good question. 

During spring what we did is we brought officials in more, and we created more game- like situations where we asked them to throw the flag and be very picky about what they were seeing.  Then we asked them to explain to our players the structure of the rule, the interpretation of the rule and why it was a penalty.  At times we might make a guy run a lap or something.  I don't necessarily subscribe to that philosophy. 

 I think one of the things that will help us is we've been a young, young team.  I don't want to use that as an excuse, but it's a reason.  We've been a young team.  Sometimes guys haven't been as well versed in their technique as maybe they should be, so they get handsy or grabby.  Hopefully now that we're a little more experienced and more fundamentally sound we'll be able to avoid some of the things, some of the cheat things that guys have to do when they get behind in a play.

 

 Q.  What would you say to an observer who seems to think that the officials in spring ball didn't seem to be calling it tightly? 

 COACH MORA:  I wouldn't say anything because I'd never heard that.

 

 Q.  In the spring Vernon Adams said he was thinking about transferring and reached out to you guys and found there was mutual interest.  What made him attractive to you as a staff? 

 COACH MORA:  We never had any discussions about Vernon.

 

 Q.  He said you guys had talked?  So that didn't happen? 

 COACH MORA:  I never talked to him or anybody about him.  I didn't.

 

 Q.  Jake said one of the big problems in the Stanford game was they showed you guys a lot of unscouted looks and things you hadn't seen before.  Moving forward with a new quarterback and into this season, how do you better prepare your team for unexpected situations like that? 

                         COACH MORA:  That's a good one. 

Every week you're going to see unscouted looks and it's something we talk about and how you prepare for the unscouted looks.  In my opinion the way you best prepare for unscouted looks and things you haven't seen on film or they haven't shown before, you revert right back to your rules structure.  I think every offensive play or defensive concept should have a structure of rules that account for anything you may or may not see.  Whether it was a count system, point system, information system, you have to have a rules structure. 

 So at times as coaches we get carried away with being so creative and wanting to be the guru and do something that's so unique that sometimes we lose track of what is fundamentally sound. 

 When you do that, you create real problems for your players.  So we have to be disciplined as coaches and make sure that every position we put our players in on the field has a structure, has a set of rules that they can follow to get through to the next play.  That doesn't mean the play is going to be successful and that doesn't mean they'll be able to identify every unscouted look, but you've got to work towards that.  That's what I've found to be the case. 

 I know defensively it's almost impossible to prepare for everything that you've seen on film.  And you've seen so many different looks.  So you've got to be able to follow your rules.  That's what we talk about, follow your rules.  Your rules should carry you through everything you may see or haven't seen before.

 

 Q.  (No microphone)?  COACH MORA:  As far as I know.  He's been in school.  He's doing well.  He'll report on the 9th, and seems to be doing very, very well.  Seems to be happy.

 

             Q.  No punishment? 

             COACH MORA:  Punishment from me? 

 

            Q.  No, no. 

 COACH MORA:  Just going to San Bernardino.  I love San Bernardino.  I do.  We continue to -- we're going to keep going there.

 

 Q.  You guys are now using a virtual reality system to train your quarterbacks?

             COACH MORA:  We are.

 

            Q.                     How     has       that      affected            the development of the quarterbacks, not so much as far as who is going to be number one, but how's that working out in developing? 

 COACH MORA:  We're just introducing it, and we'll start to use it at camp.  But I think what it will do, and we use it for quarterbacks, we use it for running backs, we use it for the offensive line and linebackers specifically.  Those that have to identify looks and make decisions.  I think it will give them extra mental reps, chances to not just visualize, but to actually see formations, adjustments, rush lanes and things that they're going to have to react to in real life.  So just give them extra mental reps.

 

            Q.  Are you happy with the way it's worked out so far? 

 COACH MORA:  We haven't done a whole lot with it, but I believe I'll be happy with it.  Maurice Jones-Drew is the one that introduced us to it.  I'm excited about it because he's excited about it, and they're excited to work with us.  And I think it will benefit our program.

 

 Q.  What do you think that Tom Bradley brings that's a little different than maybe some of your past defensive coordinators?  Does he bring a different point of view to the table? 

 COACH MORA:  Like 35 years of college coaching experience.  The last two coordinators were NFL based guys, and Tom is 100% college football.  He's been so successful at this level.  I think he took an eight-year period of time, and I'll probably get this backwards, but I think he was number three in scoring defense, and number five in total defense or vice versa.  That doesn't just happen.  Obviously you've got to have great, great players, but you have to have a man that knows how to put players in position to make those plays, and that's what Tom does.  He's outstanding and great.  He gives me a high level of comfort.

 

 Q.  Jordan Lasley, your young receiver, is he going to be a factor? 

 COACH MORA:  I've been very, very impressed with the way he's matured this year.  He got off to a rough start last year, and it wasn't an easy first year for him.  When we went to the bowl game down in San Antonio this year, something started to happen with him.  He started to get it.  He started to figure out and earn the respect and trust of his teammates.  As we went through spring I saw that become even more prevalent.  He's a talented young man who really now seems to be on the right path.  So I'm excited to see how he develops through camp and through the year because I think he can give us something.

 

            Q.  How do you mentor a young kid like that? 

            COACH MORA:  All hands on deck.

 

 Q.  He could be stunned by struggling at the beginning?

 COACH MORA:  He struggled a little, yeah.  All these young men adjust differently.  You have some that come in ask kind of make a smooth transition.  You have some that come in and it's 

really difficult for them.  But you try to surround them with the right types of people and put them in environments where they can succeed and mentor them along and then them work through their mistakes and understand why they may have made them.  Some kids are home sick.  Some kids are love sick.  Some kids it's easy for.  I'm lucky I have four kids in that age group so I'm dealing with some of the same stuff at home which makes it not necessarily fun, but a little easier.

 

 Q.  This is the fifth anniversary of your Rose Bowl team.  Are you planning on doing anything or honoring them? 

 COACH MORA:  I don't know that.  Those are things that other people worry about.  What I'm trying to do is just build a really good football team.  I'll let someone else worry about halftime and pregame.  I'm trying to worry about those 60 manipulates.

 

 Q.  Paul Perkins seems to be having a breakout year.  What do you expect from him?  What is his ceiling and what growth do you expect from him this year? 

 COACH MORA:  Paul is, first of all, a tremendous young man.  He really is a great teammate, team member, great representative of UCLA.  He does it the right way.  He's very underspoken, soft spoken young man.  Doesn't like to self promote.  Always quick to attribute his success to the players around him.  I've seen him this off-season become an outstanding leader.  Not necessarily by what he says, but by his actions.  He's bigger, he's stronger, he's faster.  He's been very productive in the off-season. 

            I           think     the        combination      of         having experienced offensive line, an experienced running back coming back, guys that can spell him, take the load off of him a little bit, will help him be productive. 

 I look for him to have a tremendous season.  I think he'll build on the successes that had he last year.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories