Maybe it's the big game coming up, but there were some pretty interesting comments from Coach Mora today after practice.
Mora spent much of his weekly pressser on Monday stressing the importance of treating this game like any other and focusing on the usual routine of doing their work on the field and in the classroom this week. However, he started his comments today by noting that his players do seem to recognize the moment, but were able to focus and had a good day of preparation.
Kinda thought they might have just been a little bit tight at the start of paractice but they loosened up and had a heck of a practice like I said yesterday, my experience has told me that its really important to normalize things as much as possible, and it's hard. It's hard because of the significance of this game, but I thought these guys, they got over it real quick, whatever butterflies or anxiety and had towards starting practice and had a really good practice, so that's good for us.
There's no magic here. You just gotta go out and execute.
Good to see that there were some early butterflies on the field. That tells me the team is excited and recognizes the importance of this game. It's also good to hear they settled down quickly and had a good practice. That shows me these kids have matured
Mora spoke about the special offensive skills of the trogans and the difficulty of emulating those guys on the scout team in practice this week. Short of bringing in Andre Johnson or Brandon Marshall to run routes for our scout team, he admits that it's difficult to get realistic looks at those types of players. But Mora did go on to praise the look team and specifically Jerry Neuheisel.
Our look team guys take a lot of pride in what they do. Jerry Neuheisel has been just a star all year on scout team, and it's fun to watch him work and kind of adopt the personality of the quarterback that we're facing. I think he takes a lot of pride in it, and I think he pushes our defense and forces us to be right on it. He's been a real asset to our defense this year, Jerry Neuheisel has, just with the way he emulates the opponent's quarterback.
LOL if you can imagine Jerry "adopting the personality" of Matt Barkley and how that must play out on Spaulding. Can't you see Jerry just yapping and grinning and acting the arrogant ass to the defense? Let's just hope the team remembers that it's just Jerry playing a part before they rise up and kill him. Save that one for Saturday
Mora was asked how emotion is going to factor into this game, especially considering that these are two of the most penalized teams in the country, and whether that may cause any problems this weekend.
I think what's important is that...it's gonna be emotional. You gotta capture that emotion, because you want to have that emotion but you gotta control it. The last thing that I know I want is chippiness on the field because I think it takes away from the concentration that necessary to perform a particular play. Like I said yesterday, the penalties that are penalties, we address. The penalties that we don't think are penalties...what can you say? But the chippiness is something we'll try at all costs to avoid. And you know what, I watched usc play on film and I think they play with a lot of class and a lot of spirit, as well. So I don't think it's going to be an issue this week. I don't think it's gonna drop to that level.
It's a fail that the media played the penalty issue this way. They are looking for an easy (though entirely inaccurate) sensationalist angle rather than doing their job by calling attention to the real issue of the horrible job the flag-happy refs have done on the conference. You can tell that Mora knows the real deal by the way he declined to answer Chris Foster's question about the ratio of penalties that were penalties to the penalties we didn't think were penalties in the WSU game, but couldn't help following his feigned nonremeberance of "things going on out there that were pretty interesting" with his trademark smirk (see 4:13 of the video). He did add that playing through the adversity of poor officiating and its disruption to the flow of the game is that sort of thing can help a team grow and learn to fight through things they can't control, especially when the team still gets the win.
You can see and hear all of Coach Mora's comments below.
In related news, from Peter Yoon withESPN-LA, Anthony Barr was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for his outstanding performance at WSU.
Barr tied a career high with eight tackles and had a career-best 2.5 sacks in UCLA's 44-36 victory in Pullman, Wash. He also blocked a punt and recorded a safety. Barr now has 11 sacks and ranks second in the Pac-12 and sixth in the nation in the category. His 17 tackles for a loss also ranks second in the Pac-12 and sixth in the country.
This is also the second week in a row that a Bruin LB has won this award, with Eric Kendricks being honored for his play against Arizona the week before.
I think everyone is pretty much in agreement that the play of Barr and Kendricks, combined with Jordan Zumwalt, Damien Holmes, Datone Jones, Cassius Marsh, and the other kids on the defensive line rotation are really going to be key this weekend. If the southern cal QB gets enough time to pass, he has the best receiver tandem in the country to throw to, and our secondary will have trouble containing them. If Barr and the boys can get in the QB's face and repeatedly hurry him and hit him often, he has had a propensity to throw some picks. I really feel the passing battle will be won or lost up front this weekend, so it's particularly encouraging to see our former running back playing at such a high level going into this game.