The Bruins went through their last full practice of the week on Thursday. They will have a short walk through this morning before getting on the buses in the afternoon and heading to the team hotel.
Coach Mora sounded very upbeat with the media yesterday when he discussed his team's preparation this week, saying he was "very pleased with the week of practice" and adding that the players are "pretty jacked up".
We do not have a lot of specific notes coming from practice this week, and that is an intentional effort from the coaching staff. Miguel Melendez noted that information coming out of practice has been squelched and the media is limited in what it can report now
...the media is limited on what we can report from practice. This means: no injury updates, no updates on who missed practice, and nothing on schemes, performances and even scuffles.
That makes it a bit tougher for us here to analyze the team with specifics in mind. Which won't stop us, of course.
But despite the lack of details on the playbook, Mora's comments revealed a lot about the tone he was trying to set for his team this week. In his post-practice interview yesterday, Mora balanced his excitement for this game with the practical importance this opportunity presents for his young team. Mora first spoke about seeing Nebraska on the schedule when he took the job:
I was excited about the game. Any time you see a Nebraska on your schedule, you know, a team of national prominence like Nebraska, if you're a competitor which we all are it gets your juices going. This is the perfect time for it to come for this football team, and I think we'll be ready to go on Saturday.
Mora then turned to the businesslike nature of preparation and development of his team:
I want to see where we are as a football team and how we compete in this environment against this caliber of competition.
Last week was about their first experience. This week it's, you know, they've been broken in a little bit. They've been in competition at this level. Now it's about going against some really tenacious talented defensive ends and really some exotic rush schemes...Being able to recognize them, adjust, communicate...that's what I'm anxious to see now.
Peter Yoon on ESPN-LA spoke with XSF and got a similar approach:
"It's a great opportunity," offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo said. "I think every college football player looks forward to big games with big teams, but we just have to focus on Nebraska like they are another team and don't get all worked up. We have to prepare for them the same way we're been preparing."
and the same from Datone Jones
"This is not a statement game for us," defensive lineman Datone Jones said. "We're not looking for any statements. All we're looking to do is to get better. This is a big game and Nebraska is a tough challenge. That's good.
"We look forward to that because it will show us some things, but we have to look at it just like any other game."
The Bruins passed the easy intro quiz last week at Rice. This Saturday will be a more serious test, and it looks like the Bruins are approaching it exactly that way.
Don't look now, but there were actually two pretty decent articles in the LAT yesterday. (In related news, I heard Satan is pricing snow blowers, but I'll believe it when I see it).
Bill Plaschke revealed that a recent Bruin tradition is ending this Saturday. Coach Mora will not address the Rose Bowl crowd after the game, the way that Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel did. Mora says he has other priorities after the game.
"I respect the tradition, I would never mean any disrespect to Rose Bowl fans, but the most important people you can talk to after a game is your team, and I don't want to delay that any longer than I have to."
Mora said he was politely asked about the speech by alumni cheerleader Geoffery Strand. He politely told Strand that not even every man, woman or child could persuade him to put image ahead of substance.
"I told him, I appreciate what you're doing, but the guys who need to hear from me first are the players," Mora said. ''I believe there's a sanctity of our core that you have to protect with a passion. Our players need me, I need them, all that other stuff has to melt away."
I am totally fine with this. In fact, I'm better than fine. I never heard Terry Donahue talk to the crowd after games when I was a student or new grad. And I never heard the Broncos' coaches talk to Mile High after the games here. I appreciate our former coach's reasons for doing it, but I appreciate Mora's view on the "sanctity" of the team more. I prefer that he goes into the locker room with his players and focuses on them. Anyone who has ever played on a team will understand that. That team-first attitude is an important part of the new culture this program needs.
And while we're at it, maybe we can eliminate some other traditions, Geoff...
In another good LAT article, incredibly written on the same day, Chris Foster looked at the development and progress with Ellis McCarthy. It seems the big D lineman is making some big strides between weeks 1 and 2, both literally and figuratively. As a result, EFM will see more playing time this week.
"We wanted to make sure he was in football shape before we gave him more reps," defensive line coach Angus McClure said. "He has shown that this week. He is coming along quicker than I thought. He's got his legs underneath him."
We have been brutal on the LAT here on BN, and for very good reason. But if Foster and Plaschke want to just do fair and informative articles like these, I'm all for it. I still hope TJ Simers gets committed to a psych ward this week though, both for his and everyone else's own good. Hopefully EFM will be driving Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez pretty crazy on Saturday evening, too.
More thoughts from the Nebraska point of view can be found on their excellent blog Corn Nation.