As usual, we begin with a WSU Recap:
Lot of things we can get better at and a lot of things we did well. It was a good win on the road in inclement weather. We're moving on to the next game Saturday, a big game with a lot of ramifications. It is important for this football team amongst all the hoopla we do the best we can of sticking to our routine, staying focused on the moment, having good practices, and focus on executing well on Saturday. We'll try to minimize distractions as best we can and normalize this week as best we can.
We can't go through a week where they do not ask about Jim Mora being in the NFL and putting that experience to the college game.
Does the NFL experience help normalize things? There doesn't seem to be week to week emotional swings with this team.
It helps me but I don't know about the kids. It's important to remember that these are young men that are still developing their personalities. I think as coaches if we can keep it normal and stay focused that it'll certainly help the players.
Did you think about this week when you took the job?
I didn't think about this week when i took the job but i am excited.
Is not being from this help you look at this as A game, and not the USC game?
I think it's important, regardless of opponent, that you treat every game the same. If you become inconsistent in how you prepare or on the emphasis you place on the team you become an inconsistent football team. It's hard to ignore the importance of the game, but that doesn't mean it has to be the primary focus for us. If you do that, you do a disservice to your football team, to your players, to your staff and to the people that support you. We understand the significance but we will try to normalize it as much as possible. Which will be impossible.
How do you minimize distractions for the team?
Stick to the routine. We meet at the same time, we practice at the same time, talk about the same things. There's a formula that got us to this point and let's stick with it. Study when you usually study. Make sure you attend your classes. Go to your tutoring and mentoring opponents. The hours that you've dedicated throughout the season to football off the field, dedicate those to football. Don't get caught up in all the hype. Focus on what's important and that's the process.That's having a great practice on Tuesday, a great practice on Wednesday, a great practice on Thursday, a great practice on Friday.
Do you specifically suggest that the players do not read the media this week?
I haven't done it all year. I don't think they read much. What they read is their textbooks. These kids are very busy. We keep them busy, they're busy with the schoolwork, this is not an easy school to succeed in academically and they're very busy that way. They have other things they do in their downtime.
It's hard to get caught up in the hype for a 18-22 year old, if that's all they hear this week.
I feel like our team has a level of maturity this point in the season that's going to help them even though we're an extremely young team. I looked out in the third quarter there were six freshmen on offense playing most of the game. There's a level of maturity. They listen to us as coaches when we ask them to ignore the hype. I know they're excited. They should be excited. It's an exciting time. They're 8-2 and they have a chance to play our cross town rival for a chance to go to the Pac-12 championship. They should be excited but you have to keep it in perspective. You got to focus on the process, to perform our best on Saturday afternoon at 12:05.
It's been a while since UCLA had a chance to win this game. Long rambling question follows that no one could possibly understand about getting to this point of the season. I listed to it three times.
I'm just proud of the program and that we've put ourselves in this spot. A lot of credit has to go to Dan Guerrero and the resources he's given us, the coaching staff and especially these players. They've worked hard since the spring and stayed focus, and they've put themselves in this position. I don't think about it personally, I just try to do my best everyday.
Did you have any external thoughts of this rivalry from afar, over the years?
Only one time, in 1974 when I was there as a 12 year old when my dad was coaching and that was in the Coliseum. I remember Wendell Tyler tore his bicep muscle, I think he tore it off his bone. That's probably my only memory from that game.
What do you think about this for the program to be playing a game this important?
I think it's great for the university. I think it's great for the program. When you're watching the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Dallas Cowboys on national television and Troy Aikman is talking about how he's excited about the game, the whole nation is hearing it. They're running ads with Joe Fauria catching the ball and running for the end zone. it gives us exposure that's important for the university, for our recruiting, it's important for our kids that worked so hard to get to this point. I'm happy for them, for the seniors on this football team getting to play in a game of this magnitude but it's still important to focus on the process.
What are your thoughts about winning this game?
It'll make us 9-2 and give us a chance to compete for the Pac-12 championship. I haven't given it a lot of thought yet. If we're fortunate to come out on top on Saturday we'll see where it takes us.
Does this game affect recruiting?
I don't know the answer, if we win a game or we lose a game if a recruit flips, or how much it means to them that a team wins a particular year. It's probably on a case to case basis. I was thinking about it last night, how much does that impact a specific recruit and I just don't know the answer.
What if it was you?
I just hope my parents would keep me in check and if I was leaning towards USC or UCLA that I would look at the big picture and not a particular game. That's what I would advise my kid to do. The direction of the program and the other things that attracted me to the program.
How does Brett Hundley compare to Matt Barkley?
I don't think it'd be fair to compare Brett to Matt Barkley. Matt Barkley's done so many things in college football and had so much success. Brett's only beginning his career here at UCLA. He's only played 10 games. There are some comparisons. Brett is a very good decision maker, I think Brett plays with a lot of poise, and Brett can put a good play or a bad play behind him and move on. I don't know Matt Barkley personally but when I watch him play and listen to him on TV and my general impressions of him, he's probably the same type of guy. I know he's an excellent decision maker. I imagine from watching him he's very poised and a great leader. You don't have the success he's had without being able to put the good plays and bad plays behind you and go on. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's got a tremendous future.
What stands out to you about their offense?
Obviously Barkley and the receivers. The receivers are special. I think both of those guys... I was trying to think who I would compare to Marqise Lee to, and I watched Andre Johnson yesterday, he's not as big as Andre, but he's the same type of athlete, but he's an impact player. He would be an impact player right now at the next level. They've got three receivers that are really good. They're a little bit more unconventional than I thought. I had the impression that I would see a strict West Coast offense formula, but they do a lot of things. They are a little more complex than I thought they'd be, which is a credit to Lane in adjusting. They play hard, they hit the big play, they're a really good solid football team. They run the ball well, they throw the ball well. Matt Barkley is the guy that makes it go, he knows where to go with the ball, and he gets it out of his hand quickly.
Have you played a player like Lee this year? (SIDE NOTE: REALLY?! DO YOU NOT WATCH THE TEAMS WE'VE PLAYED?!)
There was some award I had to vote for last week, some player of the year award, and he was on the ballot. We got three votes, and I can tell you my top two votes, two of them are playing in the game this week. You can probably figure them out, Johnathan Franklin was the other one. I've studied college drafts for ... ever and this guy, wow.
Where was Franklin on the 1, 2, 3?
I voted for my guy number 1 and their guy number 2. I think they'll be great players at the next level? I think they're both great representatives for their universities too.
How will you rely on the senior leaders this week?
We always rely on those guys, they've been here and they've done that. Whether this game or any other game, they've been through the fires. They're kind of in uncharted territory here, with regards to our record, and it's important to them. I've always thought peer to peer accountability is one of the strongest things you can have on a team. The fact that our younger guys feel a sense of responsibility to help our older guys achieve their goals before they leave this university is important and I feel our younger guys have embraced that responsibility.
This is probably my favorite exchange in the presser:
Did you see last year's game?
Did you see the highlights?
It was 50-0.
I didn't see it.
We spend a lot of time getting caught up in the rivalry - it is very important to us as alums and dedicated Bruins fans, yet in some ways, it is nice that our coach sees this as another game in this season that they have to focus on and win. If you get caught up, it is so easy to become distracted. The focus is playing the opponent and keep doing the things that you to this place.
Ok it's official, I've listened to Mora way too much...