More Jim Mora on UCLA at Media Day

Jul. 31 -- Jim Mora talked to the media a second time at Media Day...

Jim Mora met with the assembled media a second time on Thursday. Here's a transcript, since much of the conversation was off the record.

Q: So you're good with Rosen?

A: Legitimately, I don't know. I think Josh is tremendously talented, but I think Jerry Neuheisel has some special qualities. You guys saw his dad play. I played against him. He's a winner, and Jerry has those same qualities. I'd like to decide sooner rather than later, but I can't force it to happen. Somebody brought up the question, "don't you want to know who it is for the rest of the team?" I think there's something to it. When Bill Walsh was the GM at San Francisco and we drafted Andre Carter in the first round and after the first minicamp practice I had Andre running second team, he goes "why do you have him second team?" I said, "well, he has to earn his spot." And he said, "Jim, we just drafted him with the ninth pick and gave him $30 million, he's earned his spot. Just put him in with the first team, get him used to it, get the other guys used to playing with him, and get the guy he's replacing over the disappointment of being replaced so he can get used to it." So there's something to that. It's's got to happen the right way.

Q: How many times have you been asked that?

A: Every single interview yesterday at ESPN and today at Media Days. It's not always first, but typically in the top couple questions. We haven't even talked about what our quarterback rotation is going to be yet. We're going to talk about that this week with that position. Obviously not having Asiantii Woulard there makes it a little bit easier to get a rotation, but it eliminates one guy from the competition that we didn't necessarily want to have eliminated from the competition.

Q: Was that a surprise when that happened?

A: Not really. I had a feeling it was coming, with some of the indicators that I got from him, and kind of the way the spring went. There were some family issues. He wanted to get closer to home. I hope he does well.

Q: Do you need another quarterback for practice's sake?

A: No, we should be OK. We have enough guys. We have enough arms.

Q: Aaron Sharp?

A: Right now he's playing receiver, but he could shift over and play some quarterback. But I think we'll be OK.

Q: Would you do anything with Devin Fuller? Try him out at quarterback?

A: Umm...yeah.

Q: Did you give any thought to not having camp at San Bernardino?

A: No. Places like Cal Lutheran are not far enough away. San Bernardino is the perfect spot for us, because it's just rustic enough that it's not always as comfortable as they would like it. And the facilities are amazing, they take great care of us. The weather is perfect, the mountains are there, the fields are nice. We're moving into new dorms this year that are a little bit nicer, but I don't want them to be too nice. They take great care of us. It's close to Bruin Woods, so we can get up to Bruin Woods that first Sunday. And you guys get to go out there.

Q: So Stephen Johnson, will he start out at receiver?

A: Yeah, slot. But he could quickly move over to defense if that's the best spot for him.

Q: Darren Andrews, will he still be at receiver?

A: Yeah, he'll be in the slot too. You know, I said in that interview, we're not allowed to talk to Coach Alosi about those guys' progress, but I have talked to the players about how it's going, and the quarterbacks specifically about the receivers and how's it going, and they've been impressed with Stephen, they've been impressed with Chris Clark, they've been impressed with Cordell Broadus, they said Cordell has really done a nice job. They've been impressed with Soso Jamabo, and his ability to catch the ball in space. I talked to Jake Brendel today about some of the offensive linemen, and how they've been doing, and it's all very positive. So while I haven't been able to watch them, they've been really getting pushed by Sal. Our players are saying good things about those guys, so that's good.

Q: Chris Clark, where will he practice?

A: Tight end. Noel's the tight end coach, and Chris will spend most of his time with Noel. He'll practice with the wideouts and Yarbs, because we'll use him in a lot of different spots. You'll see him with Adrian, some of the combination stuff between a tight end and a tackle. You might see him with Kennedy a little bit, just some of the movement stuff Nate does. He gives us a tremendous amount of versatility, but the thing you're always careful about is not putting too much on him. But Noel will be his guy, and then he'll work some with Yarbs, some with Adrian, and very very little with Kennedy.

Q: Is it easier for freshmen to learn this offense?

A: Yeah, I think so. With these tempo offenses, in order to move fast, you need to simplify a little bit. Verbiage number one, and concepts number two. And you have to make things like and similar -- 'this is like this' so they can learn and they can adjust quickly and they can go out and perform well. If guys are physically capable, you need to make it so they are mentally capable, because you don't want to waste a guy who has talent because he couldn't learn the system you had in place. You need to be flexible.

Q: Would you be surprised if Fred Ulu-Perry ended up on defense?

A: Right now, yeah, I would be. I think he has some special qualities for an offensive lineman. I think he'd be a great center and a great guard. Talking to Jake today, he was saying I wouldn't believe how strong he is and how quick he is. When he came to our big man camp last year, that battle of the Bruins, he was a monster on defense too. But he's got some special qualities for an offensive lineman.

Q: Will we see more 4-3?

A: Yeah, you will. The thing is, we say our base defense is a 3-4, but the majority of the time we're in a 4-down look anyway, because we're in nickel so often. We've gradually shifted away from 3-4 being our base defense to more 3-4 looks. WE can do both. To me it's kind of insignificant. It's more about who the athletes are on the field, and how you position them. It's not 4-3, 3-4, it's how you position them, it's all those things. If you ask me if we're a 3-4 or a 4-3, I'd just say yes, we're both. That's the truth, we're both. Even in our nickel, we'll have five defensive backs on the field but sometimes we'll have a three-man front. It's just getting the best guys on the field.

Q: Do you feel the Pac-12 is officiated differently than other leagues?

A: I don't know, Larry Scott would be the guy to ask with regard to the statistics. It's probably officiated a little bit different because the game is played a little bit different in the Pac-12, a lot of plays. It's fast, the ball is in the air. The field is spread wide open. It'll be interesting to see what happens this year. We have a new head of officiating who comes from the NFL. He's putting a structure in place that's going to be very concise. We're going to go back to meet with him today. You can make a rule, but it's how the rule is interpreted that really matters. Any rule you make we can live with, as long as it's judged consistently. What happens, what's frustrating is when week-to-week, rules are not interpreted consistently. You might be able to play one way one week and then next week, you can't play that way. It's maddening, and it's not fair to the players. I think, I hope it changes.

Q: What do you do in that case, send clips to the league?

A: I don't, I stopped doing that in the NFL, because it didn't do me any good. You'd put it in on Monday, and then on Wednesday you'd get the thing back from the League that basically said "screw you." I just stopped doing it. It didn't say that, but essentially it did.'

Q: Talk to me a little bit about sacks. Last year, you guys seemed to go away from the slants a lot. Why didn't you go back to the slant more?

A: Slants? We do run slants. Sacks are a product of not just protection, but your running backs' protection, whether the receivers are running the right routes, whether the quarterback's getting the ball out of his hand at the right time, whether he's making the right read, it's catching the defense in the right coverage at the right time. You can run a slant into Cover 2 a gazillion times and you'll never catch it because it's Cover 2 and it's designed to stop a slant. . It's not complicated, because it's football, but there's more detail than just throw a slant, throw it deep.

Q: Is there any correlation between a guy like Brett, who's such a talented runner, and the number of sacks you had last year?

A: I've said this a lot about Brett, he was like Mike Vick in his approach to the game in that they never ever wanted to concede a play. I always thought they could keep it alive with their feet. If you get tackled at the line of scrimmage that's a sack. It could be a one-yard sack, but it still counts as a sack. And that's completely different than a twelve-yard sack. That's the difference with our quarterbacks this year, no matter which one it is, they're not necessarily runners, but they do have the ability to move around in the pocket, and they might be more willing to concede the play, throw it away, and get to the next down. Brett just hated to concede a play. That was another reason our sack numbers were exceedingly high, not just last year but each of the three years I've been here.

Q: It seems like that got settled a little bit with Conor McDermott...

A: It did, towards the end of the year. We've had so much inconsistency up front, and toward the end of last year, we finally settled on a group of five that played together a lot. Having Conor out there helped a lot, having Caleb doing well at right tackle, it became a lot more comfortable for them and Brett standing behind them, so it got better. And then you need receivers who can win, and get open for the quarterback.

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