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News and notes from UCLA's practice on Wednesday with some wonderful comments from Coach Jim Mora providing perspective on why he takes concussion issues so seriously.
Let's pick up on my last post on Mora's post-practice update. Still stoked about MJD stopping by practice. Wish there was some videos and picture to share that moment. No such luck. I do want to elaborate on couple of themes/issues emerging from Mora's comments which I thought were interesting than standard coach-speak after practices.
First, I want to start with the good. And this is about Mora's comments towards the end when he talked about concussion suffered by Greg Capella (emphasis added throughout):
He's still out. It's a concussion. He's still symptomatic. We've kind of kept him away from the team just because when he sits in meetings and he has to focus it's difficult on him. So we'd rather him spend that energy it takes to focus in school. So we wanted to give him a break. Any time a guy gets hurt they feel like they're letting their teammates down. And he's not letting his teammates down. He's got a head injury. He can't control that. He can't control the way it heals. You don't tough out head injuries. A guy gets a bruise or gets a sprain or gets a nick sometimes you say tough it out and play through the pain. But you don't play through head injuries. So we're going to be very, very, very safe with those things and make sure they're OK. They have a life to live. It ain't worth it.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate those comments from Coach Mora. It also gives me a little peak into how Mora perhaps helped Patrick Larimore make the right decision for his life.
I am not going to let myself get emotionally invested in Mora. I have said that before. I am agonistic in terms of whether he succeeds or fails as a head coach and am going to be strictly looking at results on the field. That said, it does feel good to have a guy leading our program, who at least through those comments come across as a good person, with the right perspective keeping football in place in larger context of life. As a parent it is heart-warming to hear Mora's comments re. Capella. That's just wonderful stuff.
Okay, now on to the comments from Mora and our players that will get many eye rolls around here. Mora talked about bouncing back from adversity:
It's gotta be a constant message to keep fighting. You think about an athlete like Michael Jordan. He missed 26 game-winning shots, lost over 300 games. Everyone remembers the great thing he did, but that was the mind set to keep going, fighting and keep going. We have to continue to build that mind set. You hate to lose, but in a loss a great lesson can be learned that serve these kids later in life.
Well that's great. The issue here is UCLA's team performance last 10+ years have been nothing like Michael Jordan's. It reminds us more of Steve Blake, Nick Van Exel, Terry Teagle or something. So that doesn't really make us feel all that better.
Number of the players also bravely talked about bouncing back (to Peter Yoon):
"It was tough," cornerback Sheldon Price said. "We had been playing well and to get hit on the chin like that, it hurts. It just shows you that every week you have to bring your A-game because we didn't do that. Now it's time to bounce back and show that we can."
Kind of disturbing to hear a senior talk about need to bring "A game" heading into 7th week of the season. Disheartening actually because we have been hearing the same clichés after routine October ass-kicking for last 10+ years.
"We don't have a panic button around here," Abbott said. "We know what kind of team we are. We know our capabilities and we know we have to play up to those every week. The Cal game was somewhat of a shock, but the shock factor is over. It's back to reality now and we have to bounce back and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Well, hopefully that means finishing the regular season with at least 4 to 5 more wins including a victory on November 17. Otherwise, all of this will be come across as the same hot air we have been hearing for 10+ years.
All right time for me to go for now, but need to share one cool article of note before signing off. Dalton Hilliard was named after this hero. Yes, it's true - at least according to this fun profile penned by Miguel Melendez on Inside UCLA. It'd be great to see more of Mr. Dalton in our defense packages. He has ways to go but he reminds me a lot of classic UCLA safeties such as this guy, Eric Turner and Othello Henderson.
Hilliard could be a pivotal piece of the puzzle, if the coaches consider shifting Abbot over to CB and have him mover back to his old safety spot. It could work given the current combination has not been working.