Jim Mora on Colorado, Recruiting

Oct. 31 -- UCLA coach Jim Mora talked about the status of the team, preparing for Colorado, and some elements of recruiting Monday...

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Opening statement:

Yesterday and today were incredibly competitive practices which is the way you get better. It does a couple things. It shows me these guys are still completely motivated to reach their potential and they're excited to play again. You kind of expect that out of this age group. People forget they're still young people developing. They're still kids and we're teaching them and they're learning. We're excited about the challenge we have on Thursday night in Boulder at Folsom Field. A place when I was a little boy, from 6-12, I ran around, my dad coached there. I know that place intimately. I love playing there and we're going there to compete as hard as we can. Our goal is to win and our guys are excited about the opportunity. Colorado has had a great year and they're doing great things offensively and defensively. They're incredibly balanced. It's going to be tough. It's a night game. They'll have their student body there, crowded and they're excited about their program. I think we'll rise up and play well. 

On living in Boulder as a kid:

I was 6-11 or 12. My dad spent six years at Colorado then came to UCLA for a year before we went to the University of Washington. I was there for a lot of games and ran around that practice field. I know it real well.  It's where I got my start in college football.  Actually we were at Stanford before that.  So my family has hit Stanford, Colorado, UCLA and Washington. We've done pretty well in the Pac-12, Pac-8, Pac-10.

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On if there is a renewed energy during the bye week:

Our team, if you've been around it, they come out here with a lot of energy and they're resilient. But yes, there has been a little spike. It's fun to be around. They want to get better. They are able to put the past behind and get to the next challenge.

On if that's unique to this team:

I don't know what other colleges are like. I can't remember if that's what we were like when I was in college, but I know that's what this time is like.

On Colorado's experience:

I think about the seven underclassmen we lost. Can you imagine if we had Caleb, Myles, Alex, Kenny Clark, Duarte, Paul Perkins. Our guys unfortunately for us moved on to the NFL. Sometimes you deal with that when you have success. It sure would be nice to have seniors playing. It certainly helps them. The more they play together in the same system, the better they do because they're talented young men and coached well.

On preparing for early departures:

It's hard for recruiting because they haven't come in yet. When they've been here, you maybe have a feel but its hard to get anything definitive. It's a challenge, but not like basketball. That's more challenging. You go out and recruit the best for your program and hope they make the right decision. Ultimately what our goal is, is to prepare these young men for the rest of their lives and if its football, we want to get them to where they want to be.

On recruiting offensive lineman:

You have to. Its a cliche but you have to win the line of scrimmage and win football games. It forces you to recruit offensive and defensive lineman and stockpile those guys. We've had injuries, as other teams had.  We have to oversign at that position. You only get so many scholarships a year so you undersign at other spots. We're recruiting offensive line hard and want more depth. You'll miss on some guys and hit on some guys you didn't know they were going to be as good. Kolton Miller is a good example. 

On if they're shifting to a different type of lineman recruit:

I want a big football team, regardless of spread, run and shoot, wing-t, wishbone, pro-style. I want a big football team. Biggest lineman, biggest corners, most athletic. You have to figure in other things. Character. We want high character guys, young men we can count on.  Positive members of the community who will take advantage of their time at UCLA. Give me big, strong, fast, athletic and I'll be happy.

On if they have a number of linemen they want to bring in:

We have position parameters for every position. Variables through research where you'll have the most success. Parameters through height, weight, speed, agility. It's easier to do that in the NFL because they're more mature, here they're still developing. You recruit a 15-year old and he's different at 18. Then they have character traits you're looking for. You're always doing your best. There are guys who dont fit those parameters but they're an exception. They're exceptional. But then you recruit too many exceptions and you have a really little team that is really fast, or a big slow team, or you're not very good.

On the research they've conducted:

Here, where we've been. Over the years, like I said, it's harder here. The NFL draft room has particulars that are unbelievable. I'll tell you this, one of the reasons Caleb Benenoch dropped with a team, and I'm not gonna say which one, but the circumference of his knee did not meet their standards. They're measuring his knee's circumference. This is one team, not all 32. They said his knee isn't big enough, he's off our draft board.  It's that particular in the NFL. We can't afford to be that particular. We offered a freshman, I can't tell you who, a freshman. A 14-15 year old and you're trying to predict him at 18. And that's hard.  

On if he buys in to the specifics:

I don't buy in to the knee, but hand size.  Quarterbacks, receivers, defensive backs, offensive line and defensive line, arm length. It's so specific. You go to the combine, it's so specific. They'll run all these tests at the combine and then they'll come out for pro day and do it again. 'Oh my god, this guy grow a 1/4 of an inch.' Something is wrong here.  There are teams that are so specific, lets say your hand size is 10 1/4, and you're a receiver, they'll say our cutoff is 10 1/2.  They won't take 10 1/4 unless he's exceptional in other areas. Its crazy. The thing about Caleb, it's an absolute fact a team took him off his draft board because of the size of his knee. They have found that offensive lineman that had knees smaller than 16 inches, don't have success.  There are teams that won't draft corners under 5-8 or 6-2.  If you're 6-2 1/4? They have to think about it.  They have that opportunity to do that and be very selective. 

On Josh Rosen:

Josh was out here at practice. He's not out here anymore. Josh Woods was out here.

On who is getting the backup reps:

The backup has. The guy who would be the backup if Josh doesn't play.

On what he's liked from the backups:

I liked that we know they're freshman and they've come along pretty well. Devon (Modster) and Matt (Lynch). They've done well for us.

On Nate Iese:

The thing people haven't noticed is he's become more physical at the point. He's consistent and running the right routes.  He's just playing at a higher level, more focused. He's had success and it's inspired him. 

On what changed with Iese's rise:

Performance. Caleb (Wilson) has done some good things. At this point in his career, Nate has more body mass. Caleb is still slim and Nate is a little thicker. He's got a little more versatility. Caleb is making a lot of progress. Next year he'll be a lot better in the running game.

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