The Bruins continue their shortened week of preparation to face Stanford again on Friday night.
Mora met with the media after practice, and noted that due to the shortened week, the Bruins can't follow their usual routine. Whereas they normally spend an entire day evaluating the previous game films, they jumped right into game planning yesterday, pointing out that today is like a regular Wednesday and tomorrow will be like a regular Thursday in terms of their schedule for the week.
It's good that it's a short week. I think if we were playing the same team on a long week, it would be a little more difficult to just stay locked in and focused because they're anxious to play again.
We had a good day today. Get another one tomorrow and walk through on Thursday then go up there and let it roll.
Mora was first asked what the advantages and disadvantages of playing Stanford again so soon are (I have been in exile from Los Angeles for 20 years, but I can still recognize Jim Hill's voice in an instant):
I don't know. Any advantage we have, they have. Any disadvantage that we have, they have as well. I think what it comes down to is tweaking your plan a little bit to try to get your players in the best position possible off of what you learned in the previous week, anticipating that they're gonna tweak some things as well, calling a good game, and then going out an executing. Executing as coaches, making the right calls in the right situations, and then counting on our players to go out and play hard and execute what we ask them to do.
To echo what IE Angel stressed this week and what others of us have said is that the Bruins biggest shortcoming last week was execution more than schemes. As Mora said, there will be some "tweaks" for this Friday. While I still maintain that we will always need to get Johnathan Franklin going and open up opposing defense, I do think that the offense needs to be more aggressive and less predictable than we saw last weekend. This game is for the Rose Bowl, and I trust the coaching staff will use every thing they have to be more productive than last week.
We just have to play better. We have to coach better. We have to put our players in better positions to make plays and they gotta go out and make plays.
The weather in the Bay Area this weekend is expected to be gray and gloomy, with a 70% chance of rain in Palo Alto on Friday night, according to The Weather Channel. The Bruins did just fine the last time they played in the rain a week and a half ago, even though it somehow only managed to rain when we had the football. Mora wasn't sure if rain might help one team or the other.
You can look at it two ways. They're kind of a pound it, physical, grind it out team and I think that on one hand you could say that that might be an advantage. But I've also been in games where a team that spreads it out a little bit more like we do and gets playmakers in the open field and creates those one on one match ups sometimes has an advantage, because you make a guy miss on a slippery field and you've got some ground that you can gain.
In the middle of the interview, there was a pretty funny exchange betwen the reporters and Mora when the coach was asked if he had ever played the same team in consecutive weeks before.
(Mora) I don't know. I haven't had time to go back and look at that.
(Foster, nearly interrupting) I did. You haven't.
(Mora, smirking) I haven't? Because you know it, you're a heck of a journalist and you do your homework before you come out here. And I thank you for that, and no I haven't.
(Foster, laughing) That's actually on my business card...
(Mora, laughing) That you're a heck of a journalist?
(Foster) "Im a heck of a journalist and I do my homework before coming out here".
(Mora, laughing) That's good and I appreciate you doing your homework like that. No I haven't.
It's a silly exchange, but it's punctuated by smiles and laughter and good natured ribbing. Contrast that to he exchange between Mora and that jackass Simers on Saturday night and you can see how professional journalists work with coaches. We haven't always been big fans of Foster here at BN in the past for all of his trolling and snark, but after watching a season's worth of these videos, you can see that there is a mutual respect between Mora and Foster, and I think that's been reflected in Foster's reports this season, which have been much more straight up and have generally avoided the sniping and not-so-subtle shots at U.C.L.A. Mora's demeanor with the daily beat reporters, even following the incident with the closed practice and the SI dept people really makes apparent just how bad a person TJ Simers has become. The universal condemnation of his behavior by both traditional and new media, and by friends and foes alike, that followed our initial writeup bears that out.
Finally, Mora commented on the recent All Pac-12 winners, congratulating his players as well as the other awardees,
I saw the list. I was excited for our guys who were recognized by the conference. It's great for them to get that recognition and I think that they deserve it.
(reporter: Any snubs?)
I don't like to talk about snubs. You know, I, uh, I think that, uh, you know...the guys that made it, I'm happy for. The guys on the other teams that made it, I'm happy for them as well.
The way Mora answered that was a clear tell that he knew what the reporter was getting at (ahem Eric Kendricks, Joseph Fauria, ahem) when he asked about snubs on the Bruins roster. Mora clearly measured his response to the question and gave the predictable high road answer, which suggests to me that it wasn't the first thought in his mind. I'll bet he's probably using that as some bit of motivation for these young men in their development as players, and for the big showdown this weekend.
There was a question at the end of the interview about the versatility of Owamagbe Odighizuwa and the number of different positions and roles he has filled on the defense this year. As usual, Mora went out of his way to talk at length about his player and note all the positives.
I've been impressed with Owa's ability to adapt week in and week out to the things that we've asked him to do. Going from the right side to the left side, not always easy, but he's kind of our swing guy and he's done a good job of that. Last week asking him to play that pseudo-outside linebacker position, he did a good job. He's a guy that studies really hard. We'll walk out of meetings in the late afternoon and he'll be sitting there waiting for Coach Ulbrich to spend another half hour with him trying to figure out ways to be better at that position. He's an impressive kid.
I like the way that he's become, he's always been very physical, but he's become much more aware and a much better technician, and I'm just excited to see where he takes it.
Sounds like someone got coached up. Given the strong play of our linebacking corps this season, a group which started the season with a lot of athleticism and promise but not a ton of accomplishment, I think that shows what a good job Coach Ulbrich has done with that unit.
I will also add that as the season has gone along, I have seen plenty of flashes of a Bruin defensive player getting deep into the opponents' backfield, especially on run plays. While I see Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh plenty, more and more I have also been seeing # 94. Owa has really improved throughout the year and his ability to disrupt the run game in the backfield can be a huge lift for the Bruins on Friday. I'm also pleased that I can spell his name without looking it up anymore. Looks like we're all getting better.
The Bruins will have a standard practice tomorrow and then a walk through on Thursday before travelling north for a chance to come back home and play one more game on our field.
video from Bruin Sports Report YouTube channel