After a seemingly uninspiring, yet much needed win against Utah, UCLA gets to its bye week with a 5-2 mark. Although that record is pretty much in line with our predictions and expectations for the year, the eye test has not been what we had hoped for. The bye week should give the team a chance to heal as there are some lingering injuries to which we will get later.
Those who continue to cling to the youth excuse should be happy to know that the bye week also provides an opportunity to get some additional practice for the young guys, and that is where Coach Mora begins his press conference.
It's good to get out here and get the younger guys that haven't gotten a lot of playing time more practice time in our schemes, and the guys who do a lot of the scout team work some of our stuff today. We got the starters a little bit of work, a lot individual work; very little team work, trying to give them a chance to heal and get some of the guys who haven't had our stuff some work. We'll do more of the same tomorrow and then what we're thinking Thursday is we're going to have a little bit of a scrimmage with some of the kids who haven't played much. That should be fun.
I am a bit ambivalent about the scrimmage idea. On the one hand, it's great to get some of the younger guys involved and excited as they don't get to see the field very much if at all. On the other hand, this team needs all the practice it can get. But what might worry me more is how Coach Mora came up with the idea:
I actually got that idea from one of the Pac-12 coaches. I asked him what they do during the bye week. He said on Thursday they have young guys scrimmage. It sounded like a good idea, so we're going to give it a shot.
That coach? None other than Cal Coach Jeff Tedford. Not sure if we should be taking cues from him, but then again,as Coach Mora points out:
I should listen to him because he whooped my butt.
Well...all right. Still, this should be fun for the young guys, many of whom are on the scout teams, as they won't have to simulate other players but instead will get to just play football, which is in fact a great way to keep them engaged.
Many of us have been wondering if Devin Fuller will be used more at wide receiver, given that he burned his redshirt this season after the injury to Lucien. Mora repeated that they plan on giving Fuller many reps but that he still needs a lot of work, which the bye week should facilitate:
He's a natural catcher. It's about getting the right release from when he's got bump and run, reading the coverage, knowing where the holes are going to be, understand how to set a guy up man to man, all those little intricacies that only come through time playing that position. He's got the ability. He's a natural catcher. It's just all the little things you have to learn to be efficient at that position, but we just think he's got tremendous ability there.
The rest of the conference focused on the various injuries on the team. Here's a quick rundown:
Simon is going to be OK. He was out here on the bike today. They did an MRI and they didn't find anything serious enough to keep him out. He might get some work tomorrow but that remains to be seen.
Dietrich Riley is making steady progress:
Dietrich Riley is doing more and more every day. He's not going to play. He's not going to practice full speed with us or anything like that, but he's cleared for all non-contact stuff. Hopefully by the time we get out for spring he's ready to go.
Torian White had the (heart) procedure this morning, so he won't be with us this week practicing, but he'll be fine for the Arizona State game. He'll be back that next week of practice.
Greg Capella is still symptomatic after his concussion and his return is still doubtful in the near term, but a lot of it has to do with Mora being extra cautious which is admirable. Capella apparently is harboring some feelings of guilt, which he really should not. Young man, just get healthy and come back with a vengeance.
A lot of work to do for this team in the next two weeks, but hopefully they get a chance to put priority on their health and on actually enjoying football.