Another long week before our next opponent has us fans chomping at the bit. But as far as Coach Mora is concerned, this "bye" is coming at just the right time. Here he is answering some questions after practice today:
Thanks again to Ed Lewis for posting this.
The team did some more prep for the Utah game today, but it was just a nibble, 15 minutes' worth. They added some live periods with the younger players, who have proven for the most part that they belong on the field.
The team will practice again tomorrow morning, then will have a couple of days off until Sunday, when they begin their full Utah prep during the short week.
Coach Mora believes that this bye (which is essentially two byes as there is also a longer period until the next game) works to their advantage as it allows more time for preparation and allows the coaches to give attention to the younger players.
But in UCLA's case, there is an additional advantage. Classes are scheduled to start tomorrow (remember, those Thursday starts?), so the bye is also beneficial in that, by giving the kids a couple of days off, they are fully able to focus on school. So from his perspective (which I share), this second bye comes at a perfect time.
Of course, not having school previously also provided an advantage. The players now have to balance the academic and social aspects of being at UCLA, with all the students returning and a lot of potential distractions. Yet Mora and his staff seem to keep close tabs on the players so he seems confident that the focus will remain.
The practice schedule (early morning, then late afternoon) also has a benefit: It allows the coaches to control the team's diet, which as we have learned throughout the years, can be a crucial aspect of an athlete's development. The team eats right after every practice.
You can sense Mora's sense of responsibility throughout the video, he really seems to care for the players and their lives and development.
That is also evident in the way he talks about Damien Thigpen, who will for sure get a few carries in the Utah game. Coach Mora believes that it is important for Damien to come in and take a few shots to get back in the flow of things. He likes Thiggy's body language as he seems to exude confidence in his running. However, he will still not be doing any kick returns, until after he gets comfortable running the ball again.
There you have it folks. Enjoy your day and GO BRUINS!