UCLA coach Jim Mora talked to the media after the Virginia game, particularly about Josh Rosen.
It was really neat to see such a great crowd, especially on a holiday weekend. I think that’s a tribute to the way our kids play the game that fans want to come out and watch them play. It was great to have a pretty good crowd out there today, and I think it will get better as the season goes on. There were a lot of good things today. Obviously, getting a win is your primary objective every week. The thing that we have to continue working on cleaning up is penalties. They were aggressive penalties today, which is a little bit different than we’ve had in the past—lazy penalties or lack of focus penalties. We’ll continue to work hard on that. Another positive is that we got to play a lot of guys. We got to play a lot of young players, and they did well. I think you finally saw what we’ve been seeing in guys like Soso, Bolu, Josh, and guys like that. It’s a good start. But the players understand that there’s a lot of work to be done. We’ll come back in tomorrow and watch the film and analyze it. We’ll try to get better. Then we’ve got UNLV a week from tonight. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
On expectations of Rosen:
I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited to see him play. I knew that he had a really great support group around him. I think what you saw today was an offensive line that has played together well and gave him some time to make some throws. I think what you saw today was a receiving crew that can get open and make some tough catches. And then you saw a freshman quarterback that took advantage of that. He took advantage of the protection and threw the ball to the guys who can make plays.
On the fans’ expectations:
Our goal every day is to shut out the noise and work on our expectations rather than outside expectations. We’ll be hypercritical of everything that all of our players did, not just Josh. We’ll be hypercritical of every decision we made as coaches. That’s what you do. You don’t let anything slip. When you win, you don’t just brush something aside because you won. As a matter of fact, you probably come back and you’re a little bit tougher in your analysis.
On keeping focused with distractions:
That’s kind of a mantra of ours—‘Don’t listen to the noise.’ Just focus on the things that you can control. I feel like we’ve reached a level of maturity to some extent. We’re always trying to grow. We’re a little bit more professional in our approach as a team. They’ve learned how to zoom focus and block out all the things that don’t matter. They just worry about taking care of the things they can control. There’s a level of maturity here finally that I haven’t seen for a few years. It’s good—we need to keep building on that and enforcing it.
On this year's defense compared to last year:
I felt like we were more solid and more consistent against the run. They broke a couple, but I felt we were more consistent against the run. I felt like we lost containment a couple times of the quarterback. But in general, our containment was pretty good. I thought we tackled well. We stayed on our feet and tackled well. We have to be realistic. Every team is going to have the ability to make some plays. But the primary objective of defense is to keep them out of the end zone and get the ball back for your offense. A lot of things we can improve on there as well.
On Rosen's maturity:
I did not see a deer in the headlights look with him at all. I didn’t think that I would either. I didn’t know how he’d perform, but I didn’t get the feeling that it was going to be too big for him. He was very in the moment—before the game, last night, during the game. He’s a mature young man and he handled it well. It’s only going to get harder for him because he had some success. People are going to start patting him on the back and telling him how great he is. We have to do the best we can to make sure he doesn’t listen to the noise—keep pushing him, keep demanding a lot out of him, and keep supporting him.
On Rosen’s potential:
His potential is what he determines his potential is going to be—to his work ethic and to his commitment.
On UCLA’s pass protection:
I think the primary credit goes to our offensive line and to our tight ends. Our running backs did a nice job in protection. For a young guy, Josh has pretty good pocket presence. He generally stays between the tackles. When you’re an offensive lineman and you understand where the quarterback is going to be, it helps you a little bit. The primary credit goes to those guys. They’ve worked really hard to get where they are. Once again, they’re not perfect. There are a lot of things we need to do better. We saw Caleb get beat on the up and under—he’s got to learn to be a little bit more patient. But I like the direction we’re headed with those guys. They’re mature, calm; they don’t get rattled. They understand our scheme and play together well. There’s a consistency. It’s nice to have that finally.
On building trust between Rosen and the receivers:
Every day, Josh goes against a pretty darn good defense. We’ve got a pretty good defense, so he’s been challenged all through the spring and through fall camp to make difficult throws. I don’t think it flusters him to throw it into a crowd. He has great confidence in his receivers. We’ve got a big group of receivers—they’re big guys—so there’s a good target there for him. The thing that impressed me was not that he threw it to them, but his ball placement. I thought his ball placement was good on those throws. Putting it low and away where a guy has to dive for it, some people might say that’s not a very good throw. But if it’s the only throw, it’s a very good throw. I saw that a few times today.