Jim Mora's Sunday Teleconference

Oct. 4 -- Jim Mora provides an update on Marcus Rios and talks about what hurt UCLA's run game last night...

What's Marcus Rios' status and what went on with him this week?

He had some issues in his sinus. His sinuses. After practice on Tuesday he had severe headaches and pressure so they admitted him to the hospital, kept him in there for three nights, put in an IV, did a culture to make sure the fungus that had affected him wasn’t back, determined that it was something else and then released him Friday afternoon and he got out of the hospital, came to the hotel and met us up there.

So it's unrelated to the previous fungal issue?

I don’t know that it doesn't have anything to do with it. But they wouldn’t clear him if it weren't. We're very, very, very careful as you could imagine with that, given what he's gone through. We're very precautionary any time he has an issue, hence keeping him in the hospital for three nights and really making sure that he's cleared and making sure that they've checked everything and trusting a tremendous medical staff to say OK, he's cleared to play. We would never put him on the field if there's even a minute chance that this was something that could be long term. That's just not how we operate. It's just another thing we have to figure out how to overcome.

How much do the losses on defense affect the scheme?

A little bit. Every player has strengths and weaknesses. When you eliminate certain players from the puzzle it has to fit together a little bit differently for it to work. So that’s a challenge for us. We have to constantly make sure we're doing the best job that we can of putting guys in the right spot to accentuate what they do well and minimize exposing them to things that may give them a little trouble. Every player has those things. I think if you know early in the week who's going to play, you can make some adjustments. What happens is you get further along in the week and you find out a guy like Marcus may or may not be able to play. You're not sure the status of Jayon or you're not sure the status of Takk, and it's a little bit unsettling is what it is. We need to settle down a little bit on defense and once we get a little more settled with our personnel, we'll be able to perform better.

ASU's advantage in time of possession, how much did that wear out the defense toward the end of the game?

They started out really, really well. They were playing well. We struggled on offense. As you guys saw, we had five three and outs on the first six series. So our defense had to keep going out there and they were doing a nice job of keeping it close. But the more plays you play, you have a tendency to get tired and a little worn down. I didn’t feel like that was a big issue with us. I thought they continued to battle and battle and we just needed to make a couple plays down the stretch, which they did. They were 2-of-10 on third downs over third and seven, but unfortunately they hit a couple there that hurt us late. But I don’t think that’s a huge deal, I really don’t. We have enough guys that can go in there and play. But it's something you have to keep an eye on.

Why do you think the run game struggled?

They really committed a whole lot of guys to the run, more so than the other four teams we've played before them, in terms of really stacking the box, really bringing guys off the edge, and slanting and moving. They did a nice job. They did a nice job against us on the run. We've been historically a pretty darn good run team and last night we struggled more than we have. I think you definitely want to give them credit and I think, as you look at our film, I think there's some things we realized as coaches we could have done better and certainly as players we realize there's some things we could have executed better to make it all work out better for us.

What do you hope to accomplish during the bye week?

It's a pseudo bye week, a mini bye week. It's not a true bye week. I want to give us a chance to recover a little bit and heal up so we can stay sharp. I'd like to give us a chance defensively to settle in a little bit. We came out of camp and we felt really, really good about where we were defensively. And then some things happened that threw us into a little bit of a state of flux. I'd like to get us back to feeling good about what we can do and what works best for us. And I think we'll work real hard on that. And then refocus and maintain a sense of confidence and realize we've done a lot of really, really good things. We didn't perform as well last night as we wanted to against a really good team and get back on track. And then get prepared for Stanford and play our best ball a week from Thursday.


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