UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora Previews BYU Matchup

Sept. 12 -- UCLA head coach Jim Mora spoke Monday about what he saw in the UNLV game, the challenges of facing BYU, the running back play and more...

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Opening statement:

We had our customary Sunday where we review the film and go out and make corrections and now we’re preparing for BYU, so we’ll meet with them this afternoon, have a light practice, and then hit it hard Tuesday and Wednesday. A lot of good things came out of the UNLV game and a lit need to be corrected but felt like we made some strides last night.  A great opportunity to go to Provo. I’ve never played there, not sure how many of our guys have, if any.  Great environment against a great team.  Should be a lot of fun.  

On if Eddie Vanderdoes’ tweet was accurate:

I didn’t see his tweet, I’m sorry. I hope he’ll go through the week and be available on Saturday but I didn’t see his tweet. But it wasn’t anything, like we thought after the game, it’s nothing that will keep him out for an extended period of time. The test showed something but nothing significant towards injury or extended amount of time missed. It’s just how fast he heals and how well he feels on Saturday. Being able to get him out there on Saturday is something we’d like to see on Saturday.

On offensive diversity:

We had 13 or 14 different receivers, which was impressive and then five backs touched the ball, including Ainuu (Taua), he didn’t carry it but he caught a couple. So to be able to work that many players into a game, especially that early in the season, I think it’s a great learning experience.  You want to get guys experience. Practice is one thing and its great, but under the heat of real competition is where you get tour greatest gains so getting as many players in the game and playing as we did, I think down the line will really help us.

On the BYU game last year for Josh Rosen:

I think it kind of confirmed for me and us, what we thought about Josh, in terms of being a competitor and he understood there would be some difficult times and some halves or games or some series that wouldn’t be perfect. He has been able to maintain a sense of calm and focus and recover from events like that. I appreciate that about him and I think it’s a sign of a tremendous competitor.  You get against teams as competitive as you, it’s not going to be smooth and to be able to recover shows a great player and he does that on a consistent basis.

On UCLA losing to BYU badly the last trip to Provo (in 2008):

I wasn’t here and none of these players were here. I didn’t know it, they don’t know it, I’m not going to bring it up.  They don’t care. Nobody cares. It’s like, USC beat UCLA 50-0 one time and I don’t think it affected us the next time we played them.

On if this is an opportunity to prove offensive changes were warranted:

BYU is more of a spread team so they’re going to do some things that are a little more familiar to us like Texas A&M and UNLV.  Stanford will be the different type of offense we’ll see.

On if he’s learned anything new about Soso Jamabo:

Going through the first training camp, yes, the second training camp, no. Going through the first training camp, there was some hesitation. The first time he really had to perform was in a scrimmage and he played at a different level and I think we’re seeing that now, he’s a really good player, works hard and is tremendously motivated. He’s bigger and has deceptive speed. I don’t think people realize how fast he is because he’s so smooth. I think he continues to impress us as a young man we can count on.

On what Soso can improve on:

Everything. Probably pass protection of everything. That’s often an overlooked thing of a running back’s skillset but they’re called at times to block defensive ends, blitzing linebackers and I’d like him to continue to improve on that but he’s made improvements. He’s elusive, he can run through the tackles. There isn’t a lot he doesn’t do well.

On if there is much difference expected from the running backs:

No scheme, there’s not much difference. Running backs typically have to block at times. You have to keep them in to block. The reason it’s difficult for young guys initially, if you’re the guy, you have the ball in your hands or run a route, you don’t do things like that. You don’t block because they don’t ask you to do that. But as you get into college and the NFL, those skill sets, identifying who to block, they become more important.  You can’t be as one-dimensional as you were in high school.

On Brandon Stephens:

It’s really been since the first day he stepped on campus, not just the last couple weeks, but a slow build. He’s very mature and he said to Audie (Omotosho) the first day of camp, ‘no one should ever know we’re freshman’. That was his mindset and he’s reacted that way. He’s been dependable, showed toughness and the ability to learn. All along we felt like he was a young man who had the ability to help us this year. He’s earned carries and he’s earned more based on how he played on Saturday.

On the injured players:

Takk (McKinley) is making progress and we’ll go through the week and hopefully he’s able to help us. We talked about Eddie and hopefully he’ll be available for us on Saturday night. We suited up Deon (Hollins), I’m sure you all saw him, hopefully, he’ll be available. Cam (Griffin), hopefully he’ll be available. Hopefully Jaleel (Wadood) will feel better. Scott (Quessenberry) came out late but he’s ok. He got stepped on but then he cramped up.  Jaleel had some bumps and bruises. He’s not a big guy and plays so darn hard. He goes after it every time. He’s a competitive son of a gun. We’d like to have everyone available, but the reality is, this is football. It’s a collision sport and guys get banged up and we have to make sure we’re doing a good job moderating where they are and not putting them in a situation at this point in their life they can’t recover from it. You always balance it. The desire to have everyone playing at full strength with the reality that you have the responsibility to these young men to do the right thing for them for their long term help.

On Austin Roberts:

He played. He played a lot.  He caught a ball.  Wasn’t he in the stats? One of those 13-14 receivers. But no, he played. Austin played.

On Cameron Judge:

Cam Judge, Cam Griffin, both were suited, hopefully they’ll both be able to play.

On Kalani Sitake doing things similarly to Oregon State:

Some. Ty Detmer now is their offensive coordinator. I haven’t watched their defense yet, I spent most of last night watching their offense. I’ll watch  more defense this afternoon.

On Taysom Hill:

He’s resilient, competitive, tough, had to overcome a lot of adversity and a lot of injuries.  He keeps showing up and making plays. If you watched the Utah game, you saw some great runs and what you expect from him. That toughness and grit he’s had his whole career.

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