Read what UCLA head coach Jim Mora had to say about Tevita Halalilo, Jake Brendel, and more...

Sept. 13 -- Read what UCLA head coach Jim Mora had to say about Tevita Halalilo, Jake Brendel, and more...

What is it that Jordan Payton has that is such a benefit to a guy like Josh Rosen?

He’s a big target, number one. Very dependable hands. Does an excellent job of shielding the defender away from the ball. They’ve got a pretty good synergy between them. Josh obviously has a tremendous amount of confidence throwing the ball to Jordan. They’ve worked out a lot together. 

How about some of the things that aren’t on the field that Jordan has that could benefit Josh?

He’s very, very intelligent in terms of his ability to understand the game and different scenarios and situations. He’s intense but at the same time he’s a good communicator. He invokes his sense of confidence in all those around him, and I think when you’re a young quarterback that’s important to have a guy I think you can kind of trust, not just to throw the ball to, but who you can trust his opinion about how to handle certain things whether it’s on the field or off the field. I just feel like Josh really trusts everything that comes out of Jordan’s mouth. And like you said, whether it has to do with school, or football, or social things, he’s got credibility.

After watching the film, how did you think the defensive line looked without Eddie Vanderdoes in there?

Oh, they did great. They couldn’t move the ball a lick on us. I don’t even know what they had, they had 200 yards, or something like that. 

Did you look at that game on the film and see that as the quintessential Paul Perkins game? 

Like, pound it away, pound it away, pound it away, break one? Yeah, he’s shown to be a guy who gets stronger as the game goes on. He’s very patient and he doesn’t press and when something’s there, he typically gets the most out of it that he can get. He just seems like oftentimes he’s good for breaking a long one, and he did it again last night.

The getting stronger as a game progress, is that something that holds true over the course of a season too?

I think that is the case, and I think it’s for a couple of reasons. Number one, I think that he does a tremendous job of taking care of his body, which is important when you’re taking that many hits as a running back. And number two, with our strength and conditioning program, it’s not unusual for our guys to get stronger as the season goes on. And then the third thing I think is having guys who can go in and take snaps from him over the course of the game allow him to be relatively sharp at the end of the game. As you go through the season, it ends up manifesting itself in a young man who’s getting stronger as the season goes along.

What’s the status of Chris Clark with the team?

He did not travel with us yesterday.

Is he still with the program?

I’m not going to talk about Chris Clark right now.

How’s everything looking with Tevita Halalilo?

Not good, it’s a break and they’re going to have to put a plate in it. He’ll make a full recovery and  he’ll be ready to go next year, hopefully in the spring. It was a fibula fracture. He’s going to be out about three months. 

What’s the status on Jake Brendel?

He got stepped on last Wednesday in practice, and so we limited his reps on Thursday and Friday. And the plan all along was to get into a position where we could take him out at halftime and get Alex some reps at center, and get Kolton in there. And so, at halftime, he’d gotten stepped on again, and it was painful, so we got him out. But he’ll pad it up and he’ll probably be a little limited to start the week, but he’ll be fine at game time. I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine by game time.

Did they do X-Rays?

No, it’s just a bruise. If it doesn’t get better, we’ll go in and look at it, but all indications right now are that it is just a bruise.

In looking at the film, did anything jump out to you positively or negatively that you might not have seen live?

Nothing negatively. We actually played better offensively than maybe it felt after the game. Josh did a really nice job of handling all the pressure variations that they brought because they brought a million of them. Once again, he showed great pocket presence, pocket awareness. But nothing negative, just that. We played very well on defense, we’ve just got to bear in mind that wasn’t their starting quarterback in there most of the game. I thought Ka’imi kicked the ball extremely well on field goals and kickoffs. No, nothing other than that. The offensive line was very solid again, no sacks. Averaged 5.8 per carry again. So those guys are doing a nice job for us. And like I said, the real positive for me was 70 different players got to play. When you can do that, that’s a big deal, especially in college football. When you get a chance to play 70 players in a real game, and like I said last night, all these young men come out every day and bust their tails at practice. And they’re over there and it’s scout team, and then they get a chance to play in a real game, and play within our system, and do what they’re trained to do, it’s pretty darn cool. Really cool.

What areas do you think the team needs the most work heading into next week?

I would say offensively, red zone touchdown efficiency. We’ve been good in the red zone in terms of getting points, but I’d like to see our touchdown efficiency in the red zone improve. Defensively, sacks, you know, we’ve had good pressure on the quarterback, but we’ve only had one recorded sack in two games, so we’d like to improve that. And then with special teams, I’d like to see us be a little more efficient in the punt return game with regards to getting blockers away from poor kicks and getting good blocks and setting up some good returns. Without having really looked at BYU yet and seeing what they’re doing, those are the things that pop out to me.

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