Jim Mora Talked Wednesday about Stanford and Christian McCaffrey

Sep. 21 -- UCLA coach Jim Mora talked to the media Wednesday about matching up against Stanford Saturday, defensive end Takkarist McKinley's availability, and more...

Jim Mora answered questions from the media Wednesday. 

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Opening statement:

Good practice today, the guys came out with a great energy and focus and we made some money today. Getting excited for Saturday, trying to stay focused on what we have to do to play well but I like where we're at. We still have work to do mentally and physically, but they've shown the ability to do it and the willingness to do it.

On how difficult it is to emulate Christian McCaffrey on scout team:

It's very hard. It's hard to emulate him with anybody.  No disrespect to anyone in the country, but I think he's the best player in college football. What we did this week is had 2-3 guys do some of the things he does, but it's impossible. He's a great one.

On who imitated McCaffrey this week:

Guys. Guys on our team.


On what makes McCaffrey so tough:

He runs great between the tackles, can take it outside, can catch the ball out of the backfield, you can split him out and he'll catch it. He's really slippery. He doesn't go down easily, he's like a pinball. Even when you wrap, he has an uncanny ability to get arms off him. He alway falls forward. All that is from the great competitiveness he has inside him. How can you not respect the way he plays football?

On if they recruited McCaffrey:

We tried.  I coached against his dad.

On kick coverage:

Extra emphasis? No, because we put a great emphasis on it every week.

On penalties:

As long as it continues, its amazing. It's been an emphasis for us. I felt like the first game we were good, the third game we were good, the second game, we weren't, the UNLV game. We have to develop a level of consistency. These penalties pop up. Against BYU, they have three penalties on that touchdown drive. The hands to the face and two holding calls. Two of those were questionable calls, but they were called. I'm pleased with it, but it's got to continue.

On the return game:

It's been one person breakdowns.  To have a good return game, you have to have a special returner, which I believe we do. But you have to get them all blocked.  We've had some things that looked beautiful, but one guy gets beat. It's eliminating that "if only", 'if only this guy gets beat.' Ish is very, very capable. 

On school starting:

School really for these guys starts Monday, our guys don't have class tomorrow. If they do, its to get their syllabus.  Most professors use that as an introductory day.  So we'll stay consistent with the last three weeks. Next week, we'll adjust our meeting times to later in the day so they have that big window in the middle of the day to take care of their academics.

On Paco Perez returning:

He is and doing things and working. It's good to have him back out there. He's not 100% yet, but it's good seeing him work and progress.

On Takk McKinley:

If he's ready to go, he'll play. I think the fact he had his shoulder pads on and in a red jersey is a positive. But we'll have to wait until Saturday to see.  But he's making good progress.

On if it will linger all season:

I think it's a lingering, nagging thing and will probably affect his practice time, but if he stays in shape, and he will, and mentally he's into it, which he has been, he'll be ok. He has to practice some and we'll have to manage it, which we'll do.

On the similarities between BYU and Stanford:

They really aren't, and that's the problem, everyone thinks they are. But they're not. I thought they were, but they're not. There are a couple things, they're not a spread team. But Stanford is so unique to what you're seeing in college football today. It's old school, smashmouth, NFL football. What I hope helps is that we spent so much time in spring working on 9-on-7, the inside running. I would hope it helps a little on Saturday. We still have to execute, we still have to get off blocks, can't get shoved down field, tackle in space, stop Christian McCaffrey, cover the quarterback, we appear to be better equipped, so that's a positive, but now we have go make it happen on Saturday.

On their first Pac-12 game:

I think the fact we played a really hard schedule. You go on the road to Texas A&M and you go on the road to BYU, those things prepare you. We haven't played a patsy. We've played three good football teams. We're prepared for the intensity level of what we'll face on Saturday. It will ratchet up for Stanford, and it is Pac-12, but going to Texas A&M and BYU, those are two of the toughest places in the country to play, we competed well and they were great lessons for us.

On how preparing against their own offense helps:

It should be a big factor and we have to execute. Now through spring and fall, we've been able to see things similar. But no one is similar to Stanford, that's why they're so unique. The type of athlete they have and the type of scheme they have. You're preparing for the spreads, the BYU hybrid spread, then all the sudden you get Stanford, it's different, but because we've been able to see that stuff in our offense, it's given us a little help.

On Josh Rosen's confidence going into Stanford:

You can ask him.

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