UCLA's Jim Mora on Rosen, Recruiting

Nov. 7 -- UCLA coach Jim Mora talked Monday about Josh Rosen's shoulder surgery, using a helicopter in recruiting, the resiliency of the team, and more...

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Opening statement:

We'll start with the most pressing thing and that's about Josh (Rosen).  He had surgery this morning and it went very, very well. He's on the road to recovery which is a great thing. For the past couple weeks, it's been a question, what's going on with Josh?  There are certain things we can and cannot say. There is a federal law called HIPAA that forbids me or UCLA from making statements without the consent of the family. Not to be coy or avoid the questions, but out of respect for HIPAA, and my number one priority has always been and will always be, the health and wealth of our players, sometimes we simply can't answer questions. That's how it goes. I'm willing to take any hit to protect our players. You get into this business, you understand it will be a roller coaster with twists and turns, ups and downs and it's not always going to be fun. There will be some scary moments, some great moments, some challenging moments. None of us, not any of us who've coached, come out of this business unscathed. Like I've said, for me, personally, I'll take any hit I have to take and any criticism I have to take, to protect my team. I'm proud of these guys, despite our record, which none of us are happy with. Every game we fight and fight. It shows the character of this team. We're not perfect, we're far from it. We're very disappointed.  But these guys never give up.  The other night, was I a tad bit smug with Ben when he asked about Josh? Yeah, but I had Josh Rebholz, Josh Rupprecht, Josh Brown, Josh Wariboko, on my mind. Did I know you were talking about Rosen? Yes.  But I also turned and gave you information. Like I said, I'll take any hit, any criticism. I'll do it with my eyes wide open. It's all I've ever done. I'm almost 55 years old, as long as it protects my players. But I'm happy for Josh, happy that it's taken care of, happy that I can talk about it, happy that he's on the road to recovery and I think he'll work incredibly hard to come back and have a great offseason in preparation for 2017. Right now, our concern is Oregon State. We're coming off four-straight losses, something we've never experienced. It's not good, but once again, we started with meetings this morning and our team was engaged and enthusiastic. They were focused. I expect them to go out and have great practices as we have every week. As I've said before, these young men are resilient. They're able to get focused, not let the past affect them and move on with the future. We're excited about a great game at 6 p.m. on Saturday night. We're going to wear our alternate uniforms this year, which are a salute to the military.  I hope people like them. I'm sure there will people who don't like them. But I think our players do and our fans will as well and will understand why we're wearing them.

On more on Rosen's shoulder:

I wish I could tell you more, but I'm not a doctor, and not to be smug, I don't play one on TV either. I don't know the particulars. I don't know the particular procedure. I do know, talking to the family, Josh's dad is a very well-known and distinguished orthopedic surgeon and they were pleased with the results. I plan to go by Josh's house tonight and see him and how he's doing and talking to his dad and mom and see where we are. With regards to the exact procedure, I would be ignorant to talk about that.

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On the long-term prognosis for Rosen:

Those are questions that I have. It's dicey to talk publicly when a guy can return. If they return faster, people say 'why did it take so long'.  If they take longer, then everyone says 'you're behind schedule.' I think it's important to say, I know Josh and I know our training staff and our doctors and the people he's worked with off campus with regards to his shoulder and I know everyone will do the best they can to get Josh back on schedule to throwing the football in spring if possible, they'll do the best they can.  That's all we can ask. I know Josh will work hard, I know Ant(hony Venute) will work hard.  So rather than put a timeline on it, which is unfair to Josh or the medical staff or the surgeon, it's just best to say everyone is working in the right direction and positive direction to get back.

On how Rosen's handled it:

It has been a real process. It hasn't been overnight. The human body is a mystery at times. Sometimes a diagnosis takes longer than we expect. He had to undergo two MRIs to see what the problem was and when they go in, it might even be different than what the MRI's show. That's just the way imaging works. It's disturbed Josh. You saw him in uniform trying. He was engaged in our meetings, he was engaged in our practices. He would go out before Washington State and tried to go and the next week we played Utah and he tried to go but he just wasn't able to. They did the next MRI and found a little more and they went in today and checked it out and took care of it. It has been hard for him, especially someone as competitive as Josh and especially when they need him the most. But that's just who he is. He's competitive. He comes from a great family, he's a tremendous young man and has a great attitude for things and I think he'll really attack his rehab.

On Rosen's involvement with the team:

This week, the best thing for him to do is recuperate and rest and start his treatment. He stayed at home last night, he'll stay at home tonight and maybe through the week. I spoke to him after the surgery, I didn't expect to. I sent him a text that I heard it went really well and when you have a chance, give me a call. And like two seconds later, he called and he sounded like he hadn't even been under and he was very encouraged. I'll see him tonight. One other thing, Josh is a very good student, so if he does have to miss some class time this week, which he already has, he'll be able to catch up quickly.  But I anticipate, sooner rather than later, he'll be back in the meetings, working with Tui, working with Mike (Fafaul), helping wherever he can. I don't think you'll see him out on the field, I don't think it will behoove him to be out there, but he will be very involved.

On if there is a concern it could be career threatening:

No. No. Absolutely not. And I know people are concerned about that. I think initially when I spoke, without all the information that I didn't have, and just mentioned the word 'nerve', people reacted to that.  And like I said, I'm not a doctor. It had been presented as a nerve, but the human body is a mystery. It was 100% not a nerve issue. That has been confirmed. The procedure, I don't know, I don't know how they confirmed it or what they did in there, but I know for a fact that there is absolutely no nerve damage at all. What I was told by the family is that they were overjoyed in there. 

On other injuries:

Scott Quessenberry didn't practice a whole lot last week and it showed up on a lot of those snaps. He was really having trouble. He went to treatment Friday, Saturday and Sunday and he's a lot better.  We'll watch him over the week. Najee (Toran) left the game with a neck strain but he's on track to play. Andre James had an issue and we'll see where he is over the week. Other than that, aside from Paco (Perez) and (Demetric) Felton and (Marcus) Moore.

On Kolton Miller:

He was non-weight bearing but now he's able to do weight bearing things. When it was diagnosed, it was not thought to be a season ending thing, but everyone heals differently.  In the next couple weeks if he can get back and play than he'll play, if he can't than he won't. Hopefully we can find some success and get to a bowl. 

On defining success over the next three games:

Winning all three and getting in a bowl. You can't win three unless you win one. While that's the big picture, our focus has to be on playing well on Saturday night and on Oregon State.

On what gives him confidence things are moving in the right direction:

I think sometimes progress is disguised in failure.  Sometimes we learn our greatest lessons in times of adversity, when things aren't going well. You want them to. If I saw a team imploding and falling apart, not coming to practice, missing meetings, or bickering, then I would be concerned. What I see is a team fully engaged with the thought of 'how I can get better'.  How can I get better from the physical standpoint. I see a staff looking for the right piece to the puzzle to make what we're doing successful. I think we've got a good football team that has had some tough breaks. We've been in every game and we haven't closed them out or even gotten to that point where we had a chance to close them out in a few. So that's very discouraging. But the fight, the attitude, is existant. This business is a roller coaster. I've been in it my whole life. I haven't coached my whole life but it's been my families work.  So trust me, I've had 55 years of ups and downs so experience will lead me to the answer that I'm encouraged by the direction we're heading.

On his edginess and demeanor:

After the game? After a game it's a very emotional time. You've just come off 3.5 hours of an intense environment and if you judged people on those 12-14 minutes after instead of getting to know who they are and not seeing them every day and how they interact with others and the way they present themselves to the media each day, if you ask these guys right here, they would say I'm always very polite to them and give them as much information as possible. I do my best every day. I understand when you're 3-6, they'll be some criticism. I've been doing this my whole life. We could go undefeated next year and then the next year we could have a couple losses, I'll be criticized again. If you let that affect you, then you need to move on to another business.

On the concern with Quessenberry's shoulders given their history:

Once again, I don't know the medical prognosis of it. But I believe it's a little different of an issue. The issues last year were two surgical issues and it's different this time. 

On special teams play:

I'm 100% committed to Austin (Kent) and J.J. (Molson) going forward. Austin is going to punt and J.J. is going to kickoff and do extra points and field goals. Those are the guys we brought in. It's not out of line to say they've hit a little wall as freshman and had their struggles.  But I think we know they're talented young men and the best thing to do to show them confidence and help them get through is. So we'll commit to those two. They've been told that and the other's have been told that too.

On using bowl eligibility as a carrot to dangle for the final three games:

A little bit. I think you have to be careful. Obviously that's the end goal but we can't get there without winning on Saturday, so you bring it back to Saturday. What do we do Saturday? How do we win Saturday? How do we play our best game on Saturday? And if we do that, that's a conversation we can have, so that's what we're trying to do.

On the practice allotment from a bowl game:

It's always important to get a few extra practices and how you choose to use them. Obviously, it's dependent on health-wise and what bowl you're going to. We would use those practices to try to win the game, but in those practices, there are guys who would get extra reps. And any time you can get extra repetitions, it will help you and any time you get into a game environment like a bowl, with a little heightened excitement, it will help you down the road.

On recruiting reaction given the season:

Fantastic. Fantastic. I saw between Friday and Saturday, a lot of players. I didn't talk to them, because you can't, but you can talk to their coaches. We text and we talk on the phone and the reaction has been fantastic. Like I said last week, I don't think things like this affect most recruits. They're looking big picture. They know how successful we've become the last four years, they know the culture and the direction we're headed and they're excited about it. They also see opportunities to come in and help. I haven't seen any issues at all.

On the helicopter he used for recruiting over the weekend:

I hadn't done it before, I was a little self-conscious about that. I felt it was a little pretentious, getting on a helicopter and zipping from game to game. But it was the most effective way to get out and see. I saw four games on Friday. I was able to see a whole lot of players on Friday. I'm not going to lie, jumping on a helicopter, it just isn't me but the players that you went and saw, they thought it was the coolest thing in the world. So I'll go with that.

On if he'll do it again:

If the opportunity presented itself and I could see the types of players I went to see on Friday night, I'd do it again. I swallow hard when I do it. I don't like the high-profile stuff, but if it helps our recruiting and generates an enthusiasm amongst the high school players, then yeah, I'll do it again. It's a nice helicopter.  It was the one Kobe used to use.  It only took us 12 minutes to get from Downtown L.A. to Redlands. We're flying over the freeway, looking down, and yeah, it's a good way to do it.

On if he flew over any games:

We did.  The first game we went to, I was texting in the helicopter with the young man we were going to see and I said 'hey, do you want us to flyover?' I was self conscious about that, but he said 'yeah, that would be so cool.' So I gave him a 'lookup' and we did a lap, and he took video of it and posted it. Then you land, and everyone thinks it's a really neat deal that you would go to that length to show how important they are to you, that you would jump into a helicopter.  It's pretty interesting.

On where they landed:

I wish, that would have been easier. I'm flying over a school and asking 'can we land in right field, can we land on the tennis court, can we land it in that cornfield over there?'.  But there are laws so we landed in the closest airfield, might be a tiny little place, or we landed on parking structures. Anywhere we could get to the game easily.

On if he's scared of heights:

No. Thankfully, I'm not. I thought it was kind of fun, despite the fact it was a little awkward.

On if he had to make special arrangements for it:

I didn't do it. Our staff did. We're very fortunate to have an amazing support group of alums, boosters and donors who contribute to this program. And they were helpful in doing that.


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