3 Total Updates since November 19, 2012
6 months ago Update 10 comments
Hope everyone is having a great Thanks Giving with family, football and lots of grub. The Bruins held their Thursday practice this am as we are in the middle of a "regular" game week with our game against Stanford coming up on Saturday.
Okay, everything wasn't the same. Coach Jim Mora and his staff together put together the "first annual non-travel squad Turkey Bowl" at practice today before the team left for their Thanksgiving dinner. Here is Mora talking to reporters about it after practice today:
Mora offered his usual comments about being excited about playing against a great team as he mentioned this could be the last "home game" for the Bruins at the Rose Bowl.
He also had some interesting comments about penalties. Mora cited a "20-year study" to suggest that that correlation between penalties and winning games are "non-existent." Mora claimed that penalties in general do not matter although he acknowledged that certain penalties have more impact on games than the other. Basically he said that he has no problems penalties coming from having an aggressive mindset. The two most critical variables for winning games according to Mora are turnover ratios and "explosive play ratios" which dbear37 has been working in his weekly trajectory posts here on BN.
While talking about the upcoming opponent Mora raved about Stanford's "smart defense" which in his words play with "consistent discipline," "tackle well," and "execute the fundamentals." Not sure we can make too much out of Mora's tightly guarded coach-speak but he did talk about looking for opportunities to get our players in open spaces to attack.
On the other side of the ball, Mora talked about the challenge our ILBs will have going up against Stanford's TE's and dealing with their play action. More from Ryan Kartje at the OC Register:
"Nothing major," Mora said of making adjustments to Stanford's tight ends. "We've just got to cover them, and we have to win at the ball. What they do a great job of is using their bodies to get in the way, like Joe (Fauria, UCLA tight end) does. You throw it in Joe's general vicinity and he's good at boxing out and going up and getting it. They've got guys that do that as well."
In preparation, Mora said he's played a handful of larger, stronger players at tight end on the scout team offense, hoping to somewhat replicate the effectiveness Ertz and Toilolo bring to Stanford's passing attack.
The sheer amount of play action that Stanford uses also makes planning for tight ends more complex, as UCLA's young defense has yet to see any similar scheme this season. It'll certainly be a challenge for the Bruins on that side of the ball, and Mora understands how difficult elite, athletic tight ends can make things for a secondary.
"If they can get a tight end on the corner, the corner could have great coverage, but it's that size advantage they have," Mora said. "It's hard to come up with something to combat that. You just have to hope your guy can get in position to make a play and or that the pressure can get there and affect the quarterback's throw."
Mora mentioned that guys like freshman LBs Nate Iese (6-4, 240) and Kenny Orjioke (6-4, 222) have been playing the role of Stanford TEs for our scout team.
Mora ended the presser by saying he was "anxious" to watch some football this day as a fan as he was going to take in the games with his Dad and sons, who were flying down from Seattle. No word whether they were going to "talk playoff" implications about teams like Dallas Cowboys.
I will end with another video ICYMI from our fanshots:
That's just hot.
6 months ago Update 22 comments
Bruins continued their preparations for No. 11 ranked Stanford (9-2, 7-1) this Wednesday with not a lot of newsworthy items out of Spaulding. Coach Mora had his usual presser with the beat reporters after practice and he ended up having to spend time chatting about superficial issues that really don't have a lot to do about the game. WATCH:
Yes, Mora had to take time to explain a comment he made on Dan Patrick's radio show, who tried to get him to talk about Southern Cal, when Mora wanted to focus on Stanford. So when Mora said, "I don't give a rats about USC," it apparently hurt some sensitive types from the school over there. Yes, it's not like the Trojans have nothing else to worry about with a program going through a slow decay and getting flushed into the gutter under Hello Kiffin.
Apparently some of the Trogans got worked up over another stupid non-controversial comment from Mora who was doing his part to focus on Stanford. The only apology Mora should have made here was for not calling them Southern Cal, instead of using the abbreviation of University of South Carolina. Oh, BTW I posted this in the comment thread of another fanpost. Here is one of the original posts that appeared on BN four years ago basically explaining why we should call that glorified community college by its proper name - Southern Cal.
As for the game, Mora continued to gush about the Stanford program and today he particularly singled out the performance of Stanford's redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan, who has had a very efficient start since he took over for Josh Nunes (See our notes on Stanford offense here). Mora specifically gave credit to Stanford coaching staff for putting Hogan in position to succeed while Hogan has done his best to "play within himself." It should be interesting to see whether the Bruins' defensive fron-7 will be able to put requisite pressure on Stanford's solid OL and disrupt Hogan's rhythm this Saturday.
As for Mora's mindset heading into this Saturday, Kevin Gemmell shared some interesting thoughts on ESPN's Pac-12 blog:
4. About them Bruins II: I get what fans are saying about UCLA maybe playing conservative against Stanford -- not trying to lose -- but maybe keeping it closer to the vest anticipating a rematch with the Cardinal rather than having to face the Ducks in the conference title game. Even Ted made a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge at the idea in his prediction this morning. I'll say this -- it's bollocks. (I'd prefer to use stronger language, but decorum prohibits me. And yes, that was a nod to "Animal House.") Jim Mora won't coach his team to play less than 100 percent. He won't even hint at it. Anyone who has spent five minutes with the man (and I can assure you I've spent more than that) will tell you that's not how he operates. I think he wants to play Oregon. I think he wants to go through Autzen to win the conference championship and the Rose Bowl and cast an icy stare at everyone who questioned his hiring. I think he wants to tell recruits on the fence between Oregon, USC and UCLA that he stomped the Trojans and went into Autzen and took away the conference title from the Ducks. That's not to say UCLA can or will, but I expect the Bruins to come out with guns blazing in trying to win this game. Anything less would be cowardice. And you don't get to 9-2 and win your division by being cowardly. Any UCLA fan hoping for less than their team's total effort Saturday should be embarrassed.
Well those fans who are hoping for Mora to play conservative this Saturday, are probably the same people who were hoping for a "hard fought moral victory" against Southern Cal last Saturday. Don't think they are capable feeling cowardice for not having either confidence or high expectations in our program. It's a shame to see Rick Neuheisel publicly talking about UCLA needing to hold back this Saturday. It is that kind of mindset that has him analyzing games on TV instead of leading a team to the field. We blogged repeatedly taking him to task for his Donahuesque conservative mindset and so far it has been a relief to see a different approach from Mora.
Thankfully Mora doesn't take his cues from the Donahue era mindset that ultimately played a big role in UCLA sliding into national irrelevance since December 5, 1998.
6 months ago Update 27 comments
The Bruins were back at practice this morning, and Coach Mora met with the beat writers - those not with the Basketball team in Brooklyn, at least - afterward. He told reporters how pleased with how the team has reacted this week in coming off of the high of beating Southern Cal, showing a high level of energy and focus this morning.
There will be no change in routine on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday - the team will practice as normal, finishing up early in the morning, having the rest of the day to spend with their loved ones. Mora has encouraged some of the local players to host their out-of-town teammates for dinner, and as of Monday are all accounted for.
Video via Edward Lewis - BSR.com
Later on, Mora was asked about Joe Fauria's progression throughout this fall. He noted that Fauria is still his freewheeling self at heart - still "Goofy Joe". But over the past few months, he has come to realize that if he wants to have a real career in the pros, he has to work hard every day. He cannot let little things affect him and hold him back - a trait that Mora noticed during the Spring.
He also talked a bit about Aaron Hester, in the wake of his own performance against Southern Cal. Mora praised the work that he has put in this year along with his coachability, but noted that his inconsistency is still an issue.
The Linemen are all healthy and ready to go for Saturday, though I assume that does not include Capella. When asked about the prospect of playing Stanford twice in the next two weeks and whether that could affect how he plans for this week, he stressed that he is only looking at Saturday - that he can't afford to waste time obsessing about the options facing the team in the Pac-12 Championship Game.