UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora talked Thursday after practice.
We've had four really productive days. Morning meetings, walk through, lifting weights, practices, night meetings. I see these guys getting locked in. That's encouraging. We're relatively healthy. Steven Manfro tweaked his shoulder and his knee has been bothering him and we're sending him back to see Dr. McAllister, so there might be a surgical procedure. Ish tweaked his ankle and is probably a day or two. He was on the bike but not serious. We're staying healthy. These guys know how to practice hard. Thats always a sign of a mature team. I'm encouraged by the first four days. When I've been around good teams, they're able to practice hard and physical and fast yet stay on their feet. Its a sign of athleticism and maturity. We'll go live and they'll go to the ground. These are physical practices and we're competing with the violence that I like.
On Steven Manfro's procedure:
Its on his knee. Its his meniscus. Coming off an injury, its like a flap of meniscus so they shave it off. Its nothing that will keep him out long.
On Josh Rosen with the 1's:
We said through the first five practices, we would rotate. I think he makes plays and improves every day. There is a lot to improve on still, like everyone else. He's pushing to get better. I've been impressed with a number of freshman.
On the freshman:
There are some guys starting to stand out. I'll start on offense, Bolu, I think that kid has a chance to be a special back and not the kid you want to tackle. I think Soso has tremendous ball control and is so smooth. Stephen Johnson gives us something we desperately need which is some elusive running ability. Austin Roberts hasn't played at all and he's been impressive. You move up front and you look at Fred Ulu-Perry, he can be a dominant player, Tevita Halalilo can be a dominant player, Andre James can be a dominant player. Its something that is fun to watch. Then defensively, Keisean isn't developed physically yet but he's got a burst, Josh Woods does some things, Nathan Meadors does some things, Octavius Spencer flashes. Overall, I've been happy with the way the freshman have looked.
On if the freshman have been better than advertised:
I didn't say that, just that I like the way they look.
On the quarterback transition difficulty:
Just the unknown. Not unlike 3 years ago, when Brett took over. Just the lack of knowing how it's going to look and how he's going to react. Then making a decision at some point, because you have to make a decision at some point. And then is it the right decision. Seemed like the last decision was the right decision so lets hope this one is equally productive.
On comparing the offensive line to previous offensive lines:
There is no comparison. I don't want to overstate it, I want them to prove it on Saturday afternoons. But its an impressive group. Left to right, Connor, then Kenny and Jake, and the way Alex is playing and Caleb on the outside. A big physical group, that has played enough together. I think one indicator for me is that Jake Brendel has not lost it yet. That's a good thing to see. That means they're communicating well. I like that group a lot and I think we have some quality depth. There are a lot of guys who can step in and play if they have to.
On Cam Griffin:
Cam hasnt played a whole lot of football, he's a great rugby player, but you see tremendous athleticism out of him. He's a little behind in terms of football instincts especially at that position, but we'll work him in as much as possible on special teams.
On Kenny Orjioke:
He's going. He's been subbed out for, but not the injury anymore. He's got that brace, but no limitations on him.
On Kenny Clark:
He's more mature and more durable. He's always been a great player since he was a freshman. He has a great grasp for what we do. His influence too. He doesn't say a lot but those around him respond.
On the numbers based on what Clark does:
The nose guard is the unsung hero. So often Kenny would hold a double team, they couldn't get to the second level to get to Eric so he could make players. Any good linebacker wants a guy like Kenny in front of him.
On Takk McKinley:
The last two practices we put the pads on, he's 240, he's much better than anyone thought he would be against the run. That speed as a pass rusher. He didn't have a camp with us. This really helped him.
On the donation to the Wasserman Center:
I've stated from day one, I'm fully committed to this place. I've never said otherwise. Others have speculated but I never have. Shannon and I felt as a family its important for us. I'm always asking people for stuff. Always asking administration for things for our student-athletes. It was important for showing our commitment to UCLA. I would hope it would put out any of those silly rumors that our opponents are using against us that I'm leaving. I don't know what more I could do to prove I'm not leaving. I didn't go to my alma mater, I didn't go to Texas, I haven't taken an NFL job and I just gave a little bit of cash to help build this building. If you're a recruit, I can't say this to you, I dont know what else I can do. One thing that has always been important to me was to leave a legacy and I never stayed at a place long enough and I'm hopeful that this can be the place.
Mora On Practice, Commitment to UCLA
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