UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora Likes Team's Mentality

Aug. 25 -- UCLA head coach Jim Mora spoke with reporters Thursday about his team's mentality, the approach to cutting down on penalties, the new jerseys and more...

If you can't view the video interview above, try the version below:

Opening statement:

I sound like a broken record, I know, but we're on the right track.  I appreciate the way they're working, their attitude, the way they're competing against each other and supporting each other. 

On fixing the penalty situation:

I think it is hard to tell until you get in a game.  We've had the officials now four times and I've asked them to call it extremely tight and go overboard.  Anything even close, lets be ticky-tack and we haven't had a lot of flags when the officials are here.  But considering every play we have 11 UCLA guys going against 11 UCLA guys, that's double the number of opportunities, it's been really good. The proof will come throughout the season.  Some penalties will happen in football and then they'll be some that you hone in on.  The red zone penalties have been a killer for us. We have to do a better job there. The aggressive penalties happen.  You have to understand why they'll happen.  

On Trevor Moewad's help with limiting penalties:

He hasn't specifically spoken about penalties but about mindset and concentrations, creating the right mindset.  All those things go into it. It's focus. When you're tired and worn out, its maintaining that focus It's technique and moving your feet so you don't have to reach out and grab. In an indirect way, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Trevor impacted that.

On if there has been any separation with the running backs:

No and there never will be. You can ask me that all year and I'll tell you the same answer all year. They're all three starters, there is no separation. They all have things that they do very well. We're going to use them all. And we're going to use Brandon Stephens and Jalen Starks. Don't be surprised when you see five different running backs used. I can't tell you one will be used more than the others.  We'll cater what they do to their specialties. It's fun to not worry about who's in there, whether it's Soso or Bolu or Nate or even Jalen or Brandon. I feel confident about the whole group.  It's a good feeling.

On if the running backs are equal in blocking:

No. I mean, guys like Brandon, he hasn't done a lot of it. High school guys, when they're great running backs in high school, coaches don't usually have them block, they give them the ball. They have to catch up a little bit, but they're willing to do it. I think Soso is a great blocker, I think Nate is a great blocker, I think Bolu is too. He just has to stay a little more balanced and keep his eyes up. The two young guys worry me a little bit because they just haven't done it in games.

On Nate Iese:

We have a good group of tight ends. I think Caleb Wilson has done a nice job, Jordan Wilson has done a nice job. And then Nate.  We'll get Austin Roberts back on Monday. That's four capable receivers right there.  But you're right, Nate has really good hands. I'm not overstating it by saying he has some of the best hands I've ever been around. Cris Carter had great natural hands, Jerry Rice did too.  Nate is the same type, big giant hands and he catches it softly. He's somewhat of a matchup problem. He's tough for a DB to cover because of his size. We'll try to utilize him. 

On Austin Roberts:

He hasn't practiced for a few days, he took a hit to the head and as always, we monitor them really closely.  He'll be back out here.

On the injuries:

Takk McKinley was out here, which was good to see.  Kenny Lacy was out here doing some things.  Deon (Hollins), he had a little bit of a setback yesterday.  He came out here and did some work.  We looked at him and said 'you doing ok' and he said 'yes', then a second later, he said 'not really' so we got him out of there quickly.  We're just not going to play with those things. It's not worth it. Anything we do have, besides Cam and Deon and I'll say Austin because of a head injury, they're relatively minor that they can play through and we can manage and will manage.

On the offense wearing game uniforms:

Tomorrow the defense will wear them. It's a new cut for us. We went away from the tech-fit jerseys. They're sharp looking. It's a different fabric, the pants are different, the fabric on the stripes are different, the fabric on the shoulder stripes, which is a complete shoulder stripe, I'm happy to say. We had game helmets on and game shoes for a lot of them. We want them to wear the uniform and make any alterations that need to be made. So today, the offense wore them, tomorrow, the defense will wear them. We'll get them just right so when we get into Texas, we'll be ready to go.

On the problems Texas A&M presents:

Lots.  A couple things, as everyone knows, it's a difficult environment to play. They've had as many as 110,000 people, and they'll have well over 100,000. They organize their cheer squads, try to make you feel sea sick. They practice the night before and practice the cheers. What an environment. It will be hot and humid. Those are the things we can't control. They have an outstanding team, well coached, outstanding players, skill players on offense, a quarterback that knows how to play the game. Two defensive ends, great ones, one who might be the first pick in the draft. It's an amazing opportunity for us. Our kids are excited about it. These young men love to compete. Some people out there want us to play Little Sisters of the Poor, but I appreciate this.

On if he's been to A&M before:

No, but I played at LSU and in some pretty big games in big stadiums. The important thing is this, that you have the capability to block out everything around you and focus on what's happening on the field. We've been good at that. We've been a good road team.  We talk about that a lot. We try to create distractions in practice so we're ready on game day.

On the freshman specialists:

They can all grow together. I think there is a camaraderie amongst them. They're all good players and talented players. It will be interesting and fun to see them react. They'll be fine and it won't be too big for them. You simplify it, we tell, them 'you've been doing it since you were a little kid'.  Just kick it through.  Just punt it. Just snap it. Try not to make it too big for them.


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