UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora's Monday Press Conference

Oct. 24 -- UCLA head coach Jim Mora spoke about the loss to Utah, explaining how the Utes had success in the running game, offered an update on Josh Rosen, the effect this season has on their recruiting pitch and more...

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Opening statement:

I don’t want to call it a bye week, but an elongated preparation week so we can recover physically and probably emotionally as well comning off three difficult losses as we have. We’ll do some woprk on the field, in meetings, give them a chance to catch up on rest, focus on schoolwork, give the staff some extra time for self-evaluation, some self scout things, and extra time to look at Colorado and a couple extra days as well. Gives us a chance to go out and recurit. We had a good weekend this weekend recruiting. Hopefully we can get refocused, refreshed and revived. And hit it hard these last four weeks. 

On the practice schedule:

We have practice scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday they will not practice and Saturday is like a bonus practice for Colorado. The practice this week is UCLA against UCLA, fundamental work and not work on Colorado, but working on the fundamentals.

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On what stood out on tape against Utah:

The positives or negatives? Good news or bad news? Good news is, against a really good pass rushing unit, that brought five and six most of the day, our offensive line did an excellent job in protection. I believe that that’s going to help us in the run game as well because I believe in confidence in the way they performed on Saturday, in the pass, will lead to confidence in the run game. I was impressed with that. I thought our pass rush was good, we had five sacks. The bad news, the kickoff return to start the game like that then going down 14-0. Then the big offensive play on their first play, it made us dig in. Which we did and we found something there. Our special teams played well except for those two plays and that’s been a big problem, ‘except for’. As coaches, we didn’t answer quickly enough for what they were doing in the run game. They had a good scheme going. We did a good job stopping it most of the time. We have to do a better job of helping our players and then our players have to execute it. We didn’t really attempt to run the ball.  We really only called ten runs. We didn’t go in with that as our thought process. Mike was throwing the ball well, the line was protecting well, the receivers were getting open. We threw the ball 70 times, 76 actual called passes. We ended up having three drops, which percentage wise is pretty good, but we still hate the drops. A lot of good things happened. The way we fought, I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve been around teams, when it’s not going well, you get down 14-0, the tent collapses and we didn’t do that. That’s something we can build on and a good character trait.

On being on the wrong side of blocks:

He’s talking in run defense. It’s the area between two blockers.  Sometimes when teams are doing pin and pull schemes, if you don’t pop a block, pop around a block or recognize it, they gain a man advantage on you. That running back took advantage of it. Essentially it means not having the proper spacing on defense and that happened. We’d been good against the run and our guys had a great understanding of it and it’s unfortunate on Saturday, we didn’t get it fixed quick enough. It’s all three layers. They had a good scheme going where they occupied our safety. We were essentially playing 3-4 different defenses against that personnel group they were having success running it and we were playing it really well, but they had a couple times they put our safety in a conflict position. Run defense is more complex than it appears. When you snap the ball, in the stands and the sidelines, you see a bunch a ball carrier pop out but there is so much that happens.  It’s all.

On how the recruiting pitch changes when the season does different than expected:

It doesn’t. It’s interesting, that’s a good question, I worry about that. But UCLA has so much to offer. From an academic standpoint, it’s at the top of the list. This new building we’re building, it’s a great advantage to us now, the Wasserman Center. The campus, the area, the opportunity to play at the Rose Bowl, at UCLA, to be a part of something that over the last few years has been good. Every program at some times has struggled. We’ve had 5 games that were close and that appeals to recruits, you can be the difference maker and get us over the hump. When you bring in kids on a game weekend, they can be in meetings, they can feel the atmosphere. I’m not sure the result is the difference maker. It’s the feeling on campus. It was a successful weekend in terms of that, but obviously not a successful weekend on the field.

On Josh Rosen:

I wish I knew the answer. I don’t know the answer. On the broadcast they announced his shoulder was bothering him. It’s always important when a player is injured and not obvious, we protect them. I know this, as a coach, and you know part of his body is hurt a little bit, it’s a vicious violent game and you go after it.  As a head coach, when one of my players has an injury, I’m not going to tell people what it is unless it’s obvious because I don’t want the opponent to target. But once they announced its his shoulder, what happens is the nerve has to start firing again and when it does, he should be fine. The question is when does it fire again. His dad is a doctor, he’s surrounded by good people, its just not to the point where he can cut it loose. The positive is Mike Fafaul. What a gritty performance. We could say he had four interceptions and one fumble, he had five turnovers. But boy we put the ball in his hands 76 times. He’s a guy that hasn’t played a lot but the respect he’s earned from his teammates and hopefully UCLA fans, he’s earned it and played really good. Gritty, tough, awesome, inspiring. I may be overstating it a little but I’m so proud of him. He’s been so patient. He’s a tremendous example of hanging in there and working.  It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get a stop and win that game for him. He deserved it.

On if he’s reevaluating what they want to do as an offense:

You have to adapt. I believe you can’t win unless you can run the football and we can’t run the football. I got frustrated when we couldn’t convert a 3rd and 1 or a 4th and 1. The good coaches I’ve been around, and I’ve been around good offensive coaches, they have all these concepts about what will work against each defense. I worked with Don Coryell and we slung it every single down but I didn’t ever think I’d be part of an offense that threw it 76 times.

On if the doctors had a high level of confidence in Rosen’s nerve in his shoulder:

I think it’s a great unknown. I don’t think they can predict it. He’s getting closer and closer. They can’t say after this amount of time, it will fire. In terms of medicine, it’s a great unknown. They have to just treat it and eventually it fires and readies to go. I’m not a doctor. My understanding is once it starts going, he should be good pretty quick. If not, our team has great confidence in Mike. We have to do things around Mike. We have to do a better job around Mike and we can get those wins we’re looking for.

On Takk McKinley against Utah:

He’s had a really good year. A really good two years. The play he made coming off the edge, the sack, fumble, strip, where he stole the ball, it was reminiscent of Von Miller in the Super Bowl. The kid is a heckuva football player. I don’t know where it will rank, but I can’t remember a whole lot better. The things unseen are the things he’d doing in the run game. Right before he made that play on the sack, he had the tackle for loss on the run. He’s doing a lot of great things.

On if his groin is fully healed:

I don’t know. He’s a war daddy. It will hurt, he’ll go out and then he’ll be like ‘I gotta go back out’. He sucks it up. We’ve all seen him limp off the field and then a couple players, limp back on. Anyone else, you’d say it was dramatic effect, but that’s not part of Takk’s repertoire. He has to go and he sucks it up. He’s a really good player and what you want in a player. He’s really special.

On if he projects well to the NFL:

Big time. He’s probably going to have to gain weight but he’s a right end and they love right ends like him. There will be some teams who will work him out as a 3-4 linebacker, Chargers, Steelers, to see if he can drop, which he can. The more productive he is down the stretch, his stock will go way up. When they time him in the 40 and see how fast he is and how explosive he is, it will help him.

On if playing inside helped:

Absolutely because they’ll see him playing 3-tech and against the guard. It’s not something they’ll ask him to do because he’s not near big enough. It was like Datone, he was so versatile. He could play 3-tech and end. At the Senior Bowl, he’d rotate right in when others played one position and scouts would be like ‘whoa, look what he can do’ and that’s why he was drafted in the first round. They’ll see a lot like Datone. He’s not as big as Datone but he’s faster. We’ve put out some pretty good linebackers and defensive lineman the past few years. Jayon just walked in and that dude, they’ll be talking about him.

On if Tahaan Goodman was available:

He played. He played quite a bit. We have to duplicate numbers so Mossi is in there and he’s 21, and Tahaan is 21. He played quite a bit. He was in a lot of red zone packages, when Jayon had the pick, he was in at safety, he plays nickel, he plays dime, a package where he plays some linebacker.  He’s been playing well.

On Bolu Olorunfunmi’s health:

Nate has some tendinitis in his knee and he was struggling and Soso has been fighting through the shoulder and ankle and Bolu was the workhorse and he was doing good in protection. They were bringing extra linebackers and Bolu did a tremendous job in protection. Bolu did 81 plays which is a lot. We don’t want that many plays, we want more balance. We got Brandon Stephens some play and we want him to play more and Jalen Starks we want to play more as well.


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