In this week's press conference, after dispensing with the usual pleasantries about preparing for Cal and the players being in class this week, Coach Jim Mora got into preparing for their second straight road game.
What makes Cal dangerous?
When you look at a team and you are preparing for a team you don't look at it that way. You're studying schemes and studying things specific to their offense that'll give your defense problems. We don't break down the psychology of it, we break down the schemes of it and prepare for that. It's hard to look at it that way, it's important we look at it relative to what we'll face schematically.
They make you prepare for a lot. They do a lot of different things. You have limited preparation time and you have to budget your time effectively, especially defensively. When you face a team like Cal that gives you a lot of different looks, it's really important that you to go back to basics on defense. You can get into trouble if you try to find an answer for every single thing they do. Sometimes when you do that you come up with no answers. You have to be guarded against doing that. That's a coaching issue not a playing issue.
How important is it that you're 2-0 on the road?
it's really important for the confidence. When you can go on the road and get a win it really boasts your confidence. The key I believe has been our players have just focused on the game. Not the environment, not the plane trip, not the hotel. We have a routine that starts Friday morning whether we at home or on the road and we stick to it. Our players are mature enough to avoid the distractions that potentially could be there to them. Its impressive but we've need to continue doing it.
It's week one of classes! How is the schedule working out?
It was really important we started on our morning schedule last week and get them acclimated to that. They had Monday through Friday last week where it's the exact same schedule as this week. It's important they balance and budget their time between school, and football, and rest and study and all the things they got to do get done. It's important as a staff that we do a good job of helping them budget their time by not monopolizing their time. The reason why we time we've got the split day with the morning workouts and evening meetings is to give them a chunk of time in the middle where they can focus on school. We get them early and we get them in the end. If we have to make adjustments because of school we'll do so.
When Jordan Zumwalt returns, where will he play?
He'll go back to outside. I teased him this morning you get healthy fast when the guy that goes in your spot gets three sacks. It's just good for our team to have competition. It's great for out team that has multiple players can do things on the outside. We know what Damien can do, what Jordan can do, what Anthony Barr can do. The great thing about Damien is his versatility. he easily moves between inside and outside linebacker in a game. We like Jordan more as an outside linebacker - that seems to be a better fit for him.
Is Damien Holmes better suited for OLB?
He can do both. It is probably an easier adjustment for him because he was a DE so he is used to looking at the ball out of his right eye. You're used to playing with the ball on your right shoulder. When you get into the middle of the defense and the ball can be on either side of you and your scope has to be wider, it changes for you, it's not as natural. I think he's done a good job both inside and outside, and I love the fact that he's versatile. When you got guys that plays as hard as Jordan, Damien, Anthony Barr, you need some sort of rotation there.
On Andrew Abbott being more involved in the game:
He just made more plays. We haven't changed how we used him other than in the Nebraska game when he played corner. When we go to nickel he'll come in. He was active this week, the ball came to him a lot, he got to the ball a lot.
With Devin Lucien being hurt, what are you looking for from the other receivers?
Jordon (Payton) and Logan Sweet, Tyler Scott, Jerry Rice Jr, their roles are going to increase a little bit. They've got to step up and continue to do a good job. Jerry played really well the other night. Jordan Payton got extended playing time and he had that catch down the sideline where his foot was half an inch out of bounds.
More on the WRs - on the case of the drops the WRs seemed to have caught this past week:
We had more drops this week than we had in any game so far. We had by our count was 7 drops, the most we had before that was five. It's tricky because you don't want to put so much emphasis on it that it starts spooking guys. You have to work on it I think you'll see guys after practice the guys getting on the jugs machine more, the coaches emphasizing finishing and catching and putting it away in all our drills. A positive emphasis rather than "you gotta catch the ball." With this age group you got to motivate them in the right way.
The local media probably doesn't want Mora yelling at the WRs for dropping balls.
About Ellis McCarthy:
Not enough happened, and we haven't talked about what we're going to do this week. Ellis is a good football player, wherever you put him he's going to play well. He's big, he's physical, he's very smart, he moves well. I think he can be outstanding on either side of the ball.
INJURIES THAT ARE FIT TO REPORT:
The Jordan Zumwalt update:
Saw him this morning, he's looking great. Hopefully the end of the day or hopefully tomorrow we'll know if he'll be cleared or not. The swilling is down, the wound looked really good. He looked a lot better than he looked last Thursday. Facial structure looks really close to normal in terms of swelling.
(Did he try to put on a helmet?)
Probably hasn't tried to put on a helmet .
About Johnathan Franklin's hand:
You teach guys to tackle the ball and he gets hit on the hand some. It's nothing. He's fine. I don't believe he did anything but ice it after the game, he didn't get treatment, he's not on the injury report. He's fine
Will Greg Capella return this week?
I don't believe he will be. I don't want to rule him out yet, but I don't believe he will be.