Mora on Stanford Takeaways, Facing Arizona

Sep. 26 -- UCLA coach Jim Mora talked Monday about takeaways from the Stanford game, the morale of the team and the challenges of Arizona...

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Opening statement:

One of the great things about playing in the Pac-12 is the great challenge every week to play different styles of offense. You go from a team that was keeping things tight and run oriented to a team like Arizona that is going to spread the field as much as you could possibly spread it. So it requires a different mindset. It's fun and challenging and exciting and we'll be ready for it. Yesterday we went through the Stanford film and we met with our player and we put in our corrections. We'll put that one behind us. We'll take the lessons and apply what we've learned but we'll put the disappointment behind us and try to recognize the good things we did and correct what we need to do better and move on and our guys will embrace that opportunity. Another good challenge this week and we have to get ourselves up and going and I think it will. 

On if it helps there were good things from the Stanford game:

It does. Losing is so awful. The bottom line is do you win or lose. Now we've lost two games to top ten opponents, one on one of the last plays of the game and the other in overtime. So you take a little bit of solace in that but the bottom line, we came here to win.  You can find some good things in a loss. You have to make sure you build on those and recognize the things you didn't do well and you have to correct those. That's always our approach, some kind of consistency in a game, either a win or loss.

On if he's had to say more to the team after a loss like that:

They were as down as I've ever seen this group on Saturday after the game. They came back slowly yesterday. We made a pact that when we walked off that field from our correction period, when we went to our team dinner as we do every Sunday night, that we were going to put our smiles on and reignite the enthusiasm and put that loss behind us and look for a positive attitude and I've felt them come back alive. The one thing about young men at this age is they are resilient and they get over things quickly and they'll move on.  I don't like that thought, 'just go to the next one.' Well, we go to the next one but we apply what we've learned. 

On if some guys on the team lead that kind of bounceback:

Yeah, and you know who they are, the Jayon Brown's, the Scott Quessenberry's, the Jaleel Wadood's, the Fabian Moreau's, the Soso Jamabo's, the Mossi Johnson's, the Connor McDermott's, the Eddie Vanderdoes', the Eli (Ankou's), the Takk (McKinley). There are a lot of guys of that mindset. Kenny Young is like that, Jacob (Tuioti-Mariner) is like that. It's a good group. This is a good group of young men and I really like this football team a lot.  I like the way they competed the other night. They're obviously disappointed in the loss but I love the way they're bouncing back. I love the way they think, they treat each other. I love the way they prepare and I think we have a chance to do something special this year. It's been made more difficult this year by the loss the other night, but we're still on track.

On tweaks to the pass rush:

Maybe a little bit, but nothing that is overly significant. Probably more of an emphasis on stopping the run which puts our secondary in man coverage. Unfortunately, we did give up one in man coverage the other day to lose the game. We thought they were going to run the ball, they were in run formation, we called a run defense. You ask your corners to go out there on an island, and they got us in the end. We've got to get over that hump. We believe you have to be committed to stop the run. We believed they'd tried to run it with Christian McCaffrey and we did a pretty good job against him. They found another way to beat us. They're a good team. And they got us. We just have to bounce back.

On rethinking the offensive game plan:

Not the game plan, the game plan was as sound as it could be. We left 100's of yards out there in the run game. There were some enormous holes that were not hit. I would tell you, I would say yes, the game plan wasn't good. But if you looked at the coach's film and understood the concepts as they were being taught, oh my God, you would just be as frustrated as we were. Its something we have to get over and we have to do a better job as coaches of doing exactly what we want, because there was so much out there we didn't get. I exaggerate when I say 100's, but probably 100 in the run game. It was hard to see it until you see the film and then it's very obvious. 

On if that is on the running backs:

Its on us as coaches to make sure they have a better understanding of the scheme. I don't want to put it on those guys. It's everybody. Sacks, pass rushes, its always a team proposition. No one player wins or loses a game or screws up or excels on a play. It's all of us.  Thats why I say, we didn't perform well enough. Because performance to me is all of us, play is the players, and we didn't perform well enough.

On if Polamalu running the offense has affected coaching the running backs:

It could have but that's been adjusted. Kennedy is going to be involved with the running backs as much as he has been before. Not saying he lessened his grip on it, its just his role has expanded. One of the challenges of college people is the limitations they put on you for a staff. You can only have nine full time coaches so you have to double up at some positions and your coordinators have to coach a position and that makes it difficult at times and makes it demanding, especially with recruiting.  But Kennedy is doing an amazing job and I love the direction we're headed and 

On Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins:

This kid has lightning speed. He is really fast. And he doesn't need a lot of room to get through and he's big and physical enough to break arm tackles. I can't compare him to the guys we're going to face, but the most obvious comparison would be Taysom Hill at BYU. He's a faster and more explosive player with less experience. He's a guy we have to stop, as a runner, first. Because he can really hurt you that way.

On if defending Hill and McCaffrey effectively makes him feel better:

I don't know if it makes me feel good, but I think what we're learning how to as a team, identify the guy that can hurt you most and try to take him away.  But every week is a brand new challenge and this guy is really dynamic with the ball in his hands.

On if the linebackers spying have made a difference:

We've put an emphasis on taking care of the quarterback and even our front four.  Defensive linemen are sometimes judged on tackles and sacks by others, but every pass play doesn't have to be a sack. One of the reasons we played so well against BYU is we squeezed the pocket and we didn't give him a lot of escape lanes and by squeezing his pocket he couldn't follow through on his throws.  I don't like the term spy, I like the term cover the quarterback and we have to assign guys to the quarterback. You can't do it in every defense.

On Eli Ankou:

He'll be touch and go for this week. He's in a brace. There didn't look to be any serious structural damage, now it's just swelling and pain management.  It was his elbow.

On other injuries:

Soso was o.k. Trying to think of anyone else who was banged up. I think Eli was really the only one we're concerned about this week and looking at for Saturday. Takk got through the game. Every week is going to be manage that groin.  You could see during the game it would tighten up on him. He'd come over, get it loosened up, then get back out there and play a few snaps. He's a warrior and wants to be out there helping his team.

On Bolu Olorunfunmi:

Bolu did some nice things, Nate did some nice things. Like I said, it's not always what it looks. We left a lot of yards out there. We're going to start dialing it back on how many guys we play at running back and receiver and get specific guys in there for specific things. You'll still see all three, but you'll see less of two and more of one.

On Adarius Pickett:

You'll have to ask our doctor's that.  One thing I can tell you for certain is we're really cautious when it comes to head, neck and spine. We're not going to play around. We're not going to put these young men in any more harms way than they already are playing this sport.

On what ideal number of receivers he wants to use in the rotation:

I can't say I have an answer for that. I just want to see us productive. Someone asked about the tight end involvement and Nate led us with five catches and was that planned. No, it wasn't planned, it was just something that transpired because of the coverages with Josh going through his reads. The key is they run the right routes, Josh goes through his reads, he reads the right coverages, goes through his progression and reads the right guy. In the game, the players running the right routes have done it in practice. You shrink it a little bit.

On Theo Howard in the rotation:

Theo is still involved. We want to involve Theo, we want to involve Brandon Stephens, we want to involve Jalen Starks. We have a lot of good players. We have some guys we really like. Theo will get his shot and when he does, he has to take advantage of them.  We tried to create something for him against BYU and there was uncertainty within his play designed for him, which is natural for a young player, but when it happens with a young player, as a coach, you're taken aback. There is no doubt he has the talent, but on this field, it's a lot harder. 


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