The Bruins had their final full practice this morning in preparing for Stanford. They will have a walkthrough tomorrow and then head north for Friday night's Pac-12 Title Championship. The game is scheduled for 5pm PST.
One of the first questions addressed the main topic we have been discussing this week on BN: In facing Stanford again, how much do the Bruins simply need to execute better and how much do they need to change things up and try something different.
I think it's a combination of both of those things. You can't revamp your entire offensive or defensive scheme in a week. There's things that you do as a team and you do them repetitively and thats why you become pretty good at them, but at the same time you gotta have wrinkles for every opponent whether its offensively or defensively. So that's gotta be our approach and I'm sure that their approach as well. But I think it just comes down to us, for us, at least, playing to our best, playing to our max potential.
If the Bruins had executed everything perfectly last week, they probably do win that game. But it's not really practical to expect or rely on a perfect performance, so it makes sense that the Bruins will add some things that they saw last week that could be successful this time. We always talk about half time adjustments. Here's a chance for the Bruins coaching staff to win the battle of midweek adjustments.
That topic was followed by a question of whether Mora has to convince the players that they can win this game, and whether the players' confidence is building
No. I think that convincing comes in the process, in the work, in the days you put in leading up to this matchup, which for us started with our first spring practice about 240 days ago. I think that's where the convincing comes. I don't think it's anything you can just say to them. I think they gotta believe it and feel it based on the work they've done and the success they've had.
I've seen it build every day for our team. Now, we still gotta go out and play well and execute. But I think there's a lot of belief on this team that they are capable of playing with...anyone in the country.
Mora was asked a series of questions about some of the specific problems we saw last game that hampered the Bruins, particularly penalties, sacks, the running game, and kickoff returns.
There's only so much you can do besides trying to emphasize it and talk about it and point it out on film if there is a situation that comes up where you can be penalized Drill it, put ourselves in positions where if we'd have been better with our technique, or made a better decision we could have avoided a penalty. So those are he things we try to do.
Everyone always points to the offensive line or blocking but it's a lot of things. First of all, it's pre-snap identification of who could be coming so that involves communication. It's receivers getting open quick and winning quickly. It's the quarterback reading the coverage correctly and getting the ball out of his hands. And it's also a function of winning up front. And then there's times when they might just have a guy you can't block. They bring more than you have in protection and then the quarterback's gotta recognize that and either get rid of it or run it. We've put a lot of emphasis this week but we do that every week. They got us seven times last week. That's an awful lot. We gotta avoid that this week.
On getting Johnathan Franklin on track
We broke a couple and had them called back for penalties so they don't count, so it was a tough game. It's always important for us that he gets going. We're at our best when he's rolling. And that doesn't necessarily mean right off the bat but where he can just kinda keep going and keep going and break some late. We've gotta stay in a position in terms of the score where we can feed him the ball late in the game and he can make those big plays that he's made for us all year long.
On whether Kenneth Walker will return kickoffs:
We haven't decided yet. We're looking at a number of options.
These topics sound familiar. It appears that the beat writers are reading IE Angel's recaps or our weekly roundtables, or it could just be that the Bruins' shortcomings are pretty obvious by now. We have repeated that this this a good and talented and well coached team, but that we aren't yet a great team or have great coaching. There are still a few areas that are holding the Bruins back from being a consistently elite team, and the writers hit on most of those topics today. All that they really missed is why we didn't throw to Joseph Fauria more often. Oh, and those ridiculous hyphens on the uniforms where out stripes used to be. But I'll give Mora until next year to fix that one. As for the major issues this week, there are no secrets. Fewer penalties, better execution in running and passing, and no turnovers. Do that, and the Bruins will be Pac-12 Champs and play their next game on January 1.
One of the things that has really won me over to Coach Mora from a personal standpoint is his clear affection and dedication for his players. Maybe it comes from his years in the NFL where the game really is a business, or maybe it comes from his family life, or maybe he realizes that Bruins really are the best people, but he always goes out of his way to turn questions around and focus on his players and make them the highlight. Today he was asked about how far the program has come this year, and how far he has come as a coach. Basically, he's given the opportunity to toot his own horn a bit, but Mora turns it around to focus on the program and the players. The last lines are the best (bold mine)
We've come a long way. It's been a process but it's not over yet and it's really just the start. Regardless of what happens on Friday night, our objectives are not just to be one year wonders. We're trying to build something here that's special and lasting, and every year completes in this game and competes to play in that national title game, and that's our objective. And we've just gotten started. I haven't even been on this campus for a year. Like I said I've been with these kids for 240 days really in an environment where I can affect them on the practice field and in meetings. So, it's just the start of hopefully what I believe will be a long journey and a successful one.
What's really awesome is seeing these kids have success. That's what you want more than anything. You just want them to taste what it feel like to be a champion.
In a time where we are watching our basketball program crumble and seeing a coach we really cared for a few years ago burn his bridges by making a disgraceful mess of the greatest college sports program in history, I will keep these words and these times in perspective. Things are going pretty well right now in football, so it's easy to be the good guy. However, I do believe Mora is sincere, and if he maintains this outlook going forward, then our football program will indeed be in good hands.
The final exchange of the day brought the usual comic relief, and it could have come from Nestor himself, though he assured me he was not in Westwood trying to apply his patented reverse-Mojo for Coach Mora and this game.
(reporter): ...maybe a little reverse mojo, but you touched on what it was like the last time you were in Stanford Stadium...
Yeah, I remember it. I got a personal foul, late hit, on a kickoff. Elway beat us. I remember it all, believe me. We were 7-0 at the time. This is different though. This is them, not me. I remember it well. Different locker room, different stadium, though. See, there's no mojo.
(Foster): Was it a [the penalty] a good call?
Good call, I did it.
You know where our penalties come from.
As I said yesterday, it's been interesting watching these videos all year and the interactions between Coach Mora and the daily beat reporters. There has really developed a lot of joking back and forth as the season has progressed, and these interviews have gotten progressively looser and casual, with the reporters willing to needle the coach a bit and the coach riding with it. Still, in the end, there is a game to play on Friday, and this is college football where winning makes everything better and losing makes everything worse. But after the last decade, it's nice to be in this position for a change. I hope our Bruins come out Friday and earn the right to stay in this spot.
Also, the next time Mora says he doesn't remember something, just nod and go right along with him.