Jim Mora on First Spring Practice

Mar. 29 -- Coach Jim Mora talked after UCLA's first spring practice Tuesday, talking about Josh Rosen, changes in the schemes and the new personnel...

Jim Mora answered questions from the media after the first practice of Spring Tuesday.

Opening statement:

It was fun to get back out here and get to work and see some of the young guys develop and get through the winter program. We have nine early admits and it was fun to see them out here and of their work.  It was fun to see some of the changes we’ve implemented on offense and defense. Like any first day, there are things to work on.  We changed our cadence up and we had a lot of false starts, but Im very pleased with their attitude, their work ethic, the way they accept change and adapted. We’re off to a good start and looking forward to this spring. It was good to have some of the young men who will join us in the summer, Krys Barnes was out here, Brandon Burton, Jake Burton, Keyon Riley was out here. We had some recruits. It was a good morning.  The weather is not bad. Everything was good.

On first day standouts:

For me it was just watching the process of practice. To me, you start evaluating a guy after one day, you make a mistake.  I want to see consistency.  Part of it is learning their numbers. I wouldn’t say anyone stood out one way or the other. Connor McDermott a little because he’s a great player at a premium position, mature and stable.

On the “pro-style” offense:

Everyone is completely overdoing this “pro-style” offense.  These are just the typical tweaks you would make any year, any style of play. Staffs that I have been on for 30 years, at the end of the year, you look at production, you modify and adapt what you’re doing to the skill set of your players. Im not sure who used the term pro-style.  If it was me.  I don’t use those terms.  I don’t use spread.  I don’t use west coast, I don’t use concepts.  We use concepts and kept some in place. I think it’s completely and totally out of whack to say we’re going to the pro-style offense. I don’t even know what the pro-style offense is and I coached in the pros for a long time.

On if the terminology remains the same:

Sometimes, every year you modify techniques, terminology, route structure, you modify everything. That’s continual growth and progression.  The most important thing you do as a coach is look at your talent and what do you do well.  How do we put them in a position to do well. I was lucky to work with Bill Walsh and he was one of the most creative and adaptive minds ever.  Our offense look different every year because he was able to make them look best.  You talk about him being a genius, but he didn’t let his ego get in the way of letting his best players do what they did best.

On changes in Josh Rosen:

He’s gained about 20 pounds.  He looks good and physical. He has a real strong understanding of football and awareness.  He seems more comfortable and relaxed, though he’s always had that demeanor.  He looks more in command of the high profile position that he’s earned. He might come over here and say he loves the pro-style offense.  I’m just happy he’s here.  A lot of things we’re trying to do is to accentuate what he does well, get under center at times.  

On where he can grow the most:

Consistency of performance.  Through a game and through a season. Really, both. Not having hot and cold flashes. Grasping the big picture together.  He’ll study it, he’s smart and intuitive and we’ll hopefully see a lot of growth this spring.

On changes on defense:

Same thing, this big thing we’re going to a 4-3. We played more than 50% of our plays last year in a four-down.  Hopefully as a coach you can pick and choose your concepts and implement them with your players. If you watched practice today, you saw more than 20 plays of 3-4.

On a quarterback moving to under center from shotgun:

It’s different because your footwork has to change.  One of the things pro scouts look at, if they’re not working under center, do they know 3-5 steps.  Its connected to the rhythm of the passing game.  The rhythm is tied to your footwork. Tying that together is something they have to learn and adapt to.  They work at it, they’re smart and willing and I didn’t see any problems today.

On what Marques Tuiasosopo brings:

A lot of experience playing and coaching the position. An understanding of the passing game in general.  He’s been in a lot of systems, he’s learned and played at the highest level. He has a confidence and a calm demeanor that is infectious.  He’s trustworthy and our players like him.  He’s been here before so there is a familiarity with the staff.

On the tight ends:

I didn’t really zero in on the position a lot, but Nate Iese will do a great job there.  We worked a few guys there who hadn’t been there in a while.  We have a couple guys coming in, in the fall. Austin Roberts has put on some bulk and strength.  We used him on the line and off the line a little bit.  He’s not the prototypical tight end body, his dad is.  It gives us a chance to vary up our personnel groups.

On moving Ishmael Adams to offense:

He’s explosive with the ball in his hands, he’s an elusive runner.  He’s got good short area quickness. As a staff, we’d like to get the ball in his hands.  We thought we’d take the spring and let him work on that side of the ball and see if that’s a spot he can help us at, and reserve the right to play him on defense. This is his fifth year, he’s pretty well schooled on what we do at the nickel spot.  I think we all would agree when he has the ball in his hands, he can do some dynamic stuff. Coaches aren’t that stupid, they know if he’s in the game, he’s probably going to get the ball, so having him in there more will put the advantage on our side.

On Nick Terry and Mique Juarez enrolling this week:

You talk about a transition. They move in yesterday, trying to figure things out then they’re out here practicing football.  I didn’t focus on the nine guys early, but I didn’t notice them out of place at all.  That’s a good thing. I’d rather not notice them yet. I’m sure its a difficult adjustment but Im sure they’re all grounded and adjusted. By Sunday, they’ll be wiped out.


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