Jim Mora on Utah Game

Oct. 22 -- UCLA coach Jim Mora answered questions from the media at the Rose Bowl after the Utah game...

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Opening statement:

It’s tough to win a game when you start with a kickoff return for a touchdown, you give up 360 yards rushing and only get 46, you have five turnovers, you kick the ball out of bounds right when you’re trying to get field position. Those are some really discouraging things. But I’ll give you a positive, I thought our young men, getting down 14-0, coming off two losses, hung in there and fought. There’s no quit in them. We’re not doing well enough, but it’s not for lack of effort on the part of our players. That’s not a winning formula, as I’ve said - giving up that many yards rushing, not being able to run, turning it over that much. The key thing for those young men is that they hang together, support each other, continue to search for answers and come out and work hard. Absorb the disappointment, but not let it affect them going forward. That’s what we’ll continue to talk about. Sometimes there are tough life lessons to be learned in athletic competition. Hopefully we can learn those lessons, and they’ll apply them some point down the road in their life, but right now it’s very, very painful for all of us.

On moving back to the spread:

We haven’t been able to run the ball, which is no secret. I felt like we go up-tempo, try to open some things up for our backs, try to help our offensive line a little bit, see what we do going forward.

On the offensive line:

We didn’t really try to run the ball today. We only attempted 10 runs.

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On if the game plan was to throw more than to run:

Yes.

On their run defense:

It’s been so good lately. We got on the wrong side of some blocks, and that young man had a great day, a world-class day against us, and that’s disappointing because we have been playing the run so well. We were searching for answers on the field between series and between plays, trying to get ourselves on the right call. Sometimes you get out of rhythm. Our guys were playing so well on defense and today we weren’t able to sustain the success we’ve been having. It’s something we have to look hard at. 

On Mike Fafaul:

I think Mike is gritty as heck. He threw the ball 70 times today. He threw five touchdowns. He’s unaffected by his mistakes. He’s affected by them, but he keeps going out there and slinging it. His teammates have tremendous, tremendous, tremendous respect for him, and they want to play hard for him. He’s a warrior. He’s a stud of a kid. I have great respect for him. 

On having a game where they didn't really try to run:

I’ve coached hundreds of hundreds of games. I came into the league with Don Coryell. There’s your answer. Your objective is to win. Whatever it takes to win. That’s what you have to be willing to do. We didn’t go into the game thinking we’d throw it 70 and run it 10, but we were moving the ball through the air, and our offensive line was doing an excellent job with protection. That defensive line came into the game as the No. 1 sack unit in the Pac-12 with 20. We called 76 passes, and they had 2 sacks. That’s a credit to our offensive line. We had five sacks on defense, but we couldn’t stop the run. 

On if the up-tempo offense puts pressure on the defense:

Our defense has had so much pressure on it the last five weeks, I don't think it matters. We've had 12 turnovers the last three games, so that's pressure itself for the defense. You look back to last week's game, the field position they were put in, they were under pressure all year long.  We did not respond as well as we have. It's a prideful group and we have to figure out what happened exactly.

On the problem with the opening kickoff:

The kick. The kick needs to go deep left, the kick didn’t go deep left. They ran a bounce, we were closing down the right side, and they found a crease. I don't know if we missed tackles. It starts with placement of the kick. Simple.

On Kenny Walker:

I don't know on Kenny, he's not ok, but I don't know the extent or seriousness. He seemed coherent and knew where he was. He was aware of his surroundings. Our doctors will do what they need to make the right decisions moving forward.

On changes in the punting game:

We did make some changes in the punting game and I thought they paid off. We'll continue to look for ways. We used Adam Searl out there and Stephan Flintoft. We did some rugby style. We've struggled in the punting game. It doesn't indicate a lack of trust in Austin (Kent), it's sometimes, with young guys, he's hard on himself, I think you have to take a little off and let them grow and that's what we tried to do. Fortunately Adam and Stephan did a good job.

On the bye week:

You always like to get back out and compete again. It gives us a chance to regroup a little. It's not a full bye week, we play on a Thursday night, but gives us a couple days to regroup. At this point in the season, guys are beat up. You can mend a little and we can reevaluate without the pressure of a game looming. You can hit the recruiting trail. I don't know if its a good thing, it can be.

On if he fears losing the locker room:

No. Explain what that means? I've never seen a coach lose a locker room. That's a fantasy myth. You're not going to lose the locker room. The answer is no.

On Josh Rosen:

I'm not worried about Josh. I'm proud of Mike Fafaul.


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