UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora Previews the USC Game

Nov. 16 -- UCLA head coach Jim Mora previewed this weekend's game against USC, spoke about the possible recruiting implications of the crosstown showdown and more...

If you can't view the video above, try the version below:

Opening statement:

Good work today. They really came out and focused and worked hard. It was physical and everything we wanted in a Wednesday practice.

On Nate Iese:

I think he's doing well. He was on the side today on the bike and it looked like his flexion was good and he's practically living in the training room trying to get himself ready. I think he'll be a gametime decision. He's doing everything he can to get out here and we appreciate that. Hopefully he's ready to go, we'd love to have him.

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On USC's running game:

It's a concern because they're really good running the football. They have an offensive line that can move people out, runners who can get downhill and make you miss and they have a nice pass game. You can't commit everything to the run, cause you commit to the run and they pass and they're effective in it. We're going to have to do an excellent job of leverage and play entry and pad level. And most importantly, we'll have to tackle well.

On the consistency of the defense:

I think we've played good defense. We've had a couple games, the game that bothers me the most is the Utah game. A few plays against Utah.  In general, we're playing with a lot of confidence in our defense and we're playing confident because a lot of our guys are working hard. They understand the scheme, they know what to do, they trust each other and they can run. Those are the signs of a good defense. I'm confident we'll go out and play well. But we're playing an explosive and balanced offense and it will take our best effort.

On USC's run defense:

We go in with a plan and you plan based upon what you see them doing or what you do well or maybe they have struggles with that you do well or their strength and your struggles. And then as the game unfolds, it always seems to adjust a little. Whatever it takes to get us in a position to win the game, that's what we'll try to do. If that means we have to drop back and throw it 100 times, that's what we'll do. If it's 50/50, that's what we'll do. You have a plan and go in and make adjustments through the game based on what's happened.

On the recruiting implications a game like this has:

I don't think there is as significant as most people believe. You're dealing with a monster over there, quite frankly. You're dealing with a tradition there. You walk in and see national championships and Heismans and retired jerseys and you see some of the greatest players to ever play the game. We're fighting that all the time and fighting it hard. We win our share and they win their share. I don't know how much the game really matters. Talking to a recruit last night, his parents grew up USC fans. They are Trojans. They're not going to let him go somewhere else, whether he wants to or not.  There are some kids you just can't pull away. Then there are some kids who just love UCLA. And they're going to come here. I don't think the score of the game matters as much as maybe the colors they flew at their house, the USC colors or the UCLA Bruin colors.

On giving Mike Fafaul a game ball:

Five years of a great attitude. Five years of sucking it up. Five years of living in the shadows but never getting down or letting it effect him or those around him. Four games where he had to go in there as the backup and we couldn't quite get it done. And it just seemed like the right thing to do to reward him. There are a lot of guys on this team that deserve a reward, but it just seemed like the right thing to do for Mike. We really appreciate who he is and what he means to the program and he deserved a game ball. I'm not saying he had the greatest game, but it was a culmination of five years in this program.

On talking with Fafaul when he had option to leave as a grad transfer:

Never had a single conversation with him. Not even a whisper. I don't know if he considered it or how strongly he considered it but it was something Mike and I never talked about. He may have talked about it with someone else, but I don't even know that. I'm just glad that he's with us. I'm happy he's with us.

On the stepping up of unheralded quarterbacks in the UCLA-USC game:

As a coach, you're always looking for a way to inspire and motivate and focus your team. And that's what you try to do, all three. Keep them on point, with the right mindset and maybe they're inspired a little extra. It doesn't take a lot in this game because of the implications in this game. But if you can find anywhere to focus, motivate and inspire, than you use it. If that means going into the archives to find a particular play or player, then you use it.  We would absolutely do that, not just for this game but for any game.

On if he has a soft-spot for unheralded players being a former walk-on himself:

Yeah, I do. I respect all these young men out here that are paying their way. It's not cheap to go to school here, it's challenging academically. I respect the heck out of those guys. You see their stories. And that's why I like to save a couple scholarships for walk-ons who've had success. You get some young men that, you talk about Mike Fafaul, he's earned a scholarship. You go back and look at LB (Librado Baracio) or Rosy (Roosevelt Davis), guys who made plays for you. Mike inspires these players and they respect the hell out of them.  I do have a soft-spot for them. 

On the senior class playing their final game at the Rose Bowl:

I love them. They're my guys. They're the guys I recruited and have been with. I'm watching Randall and Fabian walk off the field, I've been with them five years. I met them six years ago. Watching them develop on the field and off the field. And I'll miss them dearly. I want the best for them. You get really, really close to these guys. Incredibly close to them. They're your kids, they're family. Senior Day every year for me has gotten more emotional, more in-depth, as I've gotten to know these guys more and this will be the toughest one for me yet. I'm getting emotional talking about it right now. Yesterday, Jordan Zumwalt came walking in to my office and it was the greatest feeling in the world. And the day before, Simon Goines came walking in my office. He's back in L.A. and has 18 job offers and he's about to launch an app with Brandon Willis.  Those are the great things about college football, seeing them leave, come back and be successful. It's awesome.

On birthday plans:

We need to stop talking about that, I don't want to have a birthday. I'm like everyone else my age, I want to quit thinking about it. I would just love to have a great night.

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