Bruins are in prep. mode for New Mexico State Aggies (a program that Dewayne Walker left Westwood for few years ago - lol). Anyway, I know some of you are concerned about this game being a "trap" game or something, but I think we can let those worries go.
Seriously - Bruins should be able to take care of business against these guys even with our scout team. Perhaps few years ago when we were coached by someone like Karl Dorrell we'd fret about whether we were going to show up or not on these types of games. But this is the kind of game, if there is indeed a #BruinRevolution happening under the Mora regime, we shouldn't be losing our sleep over. At least I am not going to. We should expect the Bruins to completely demolish the Aggies this weekend at the Rose Bowl. We should look forward to it, not lose sleep over it.
Elite teams (likes the football powerhouses in the SEC conferences) use these games to tune up the backups and if UCLA is indeed back, we'll see Jerry Neuheisel switching to his QB number and taking care of business by Q3. On that note here are Coach Mora's comments after practice. WATCH:
You should watch the video and not depend on my short-hand notes. He seemed to be in a pretty upbeat mode (tough not to be after the weekend we have collectively had in this community) about his team's state of mind heading into this Saturday. According to Mora, the team is in a "good frame of mind" as he used the words "focused," "upbeat" and "locked-in."
Mora also talked about the issue of how the young guys (especially freshmen) are adjusting to playing time at the college level as number of them are getting use the fact that they are not getting the reps. like they used to as high school All Americans. No doubt the conversation was spurred by a tweet from Tahaan Goodman over the weekend, when the freshman DB posted a frustrated tweet for not getting PT against the Huskers.
If you follow the link I just shared above, you'll see that we weren't worried all that much about it and was confident that it'd be addressed pretty smoothly by this staff. Sure enough Mora handled it effortlessly. He mentioned today that Goodman actually texted him 5 mins after he posted that tweet and they had a "very positive conversation" about that tweet. Here is Tahaan's comments after practice which makes it clear that everyone is on the same page. WATCH:
Going back to Mora's comments, he said given that he has a son who is the same age as these freshmen he understands where they are coming from but at the same time he communicated to them that allocation of PT is not necessarily a reflection of how coaches feel about the players, as he and his staff are in the process of trying out "different combinations" on Saturdays to figure out the best possible fit for their game schemes (which makes a lot of sense given that we are in OOC season).
Mora also talked about the "team first" mindset and the example he used was Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, who won (citing Mora here) 18 championships, including winning NCAA championship, Olympic championship and a World championship in one season. Chris Foster immediately put up a trollish post in the LA Times (he can't help himself sometimes) saying that our Laker heavy fanbase won't like that. Whatever, no one cares Chris.
BTW speaking of freshman when asked about Myles Jack's performances in his first two games, Mora predictably gushed about our standout freshman who is off to a fantastic start. The reporters tried to goad Mora into saying that Jack would get sometime in offense. While Mora didn't shut the door on the possibility, he suggested if we were going to see Jack getting some time on the other side of the ball, it's not going to happen at least till later in the season.
I also thought Mora's comments on Twitter was very interesting. When talking about Goodman's tweet he said the wasn't going to impose any new rules on social media use as he acknowledged "Twitter, as we know, is the world we live in right now," and that for him to ask these kids not to use Twitter "would be ignorant." He suggested that coaches can teach the players on how to use Twitter "responsibly" so that the players have an understanding on the responsibility they have while communicating as a student athlete from UCLA.
Now this reminds me of Mora's first day with these players as the head coach of the UCLA program when he has asked the players "not to tweet about school." At that time we said:
I think Mora and UCLA should be thoughtful about implementing a team wide social media policy for the program. I am not sure outright ban is way to go. I think there are strategic ways to develop smart and sensible rules around Twitter and Facebook posting issues, without compromising underlying discipline issues in the program. We will see how it plays out. If this is a start to bringing some much needed discipline and organization into the program, so be it.
Seems like that's what we have today as Mora has evolved in his approach slightly while maintaining overall discipline in the program.
BTW it's interesting to read the blogposts covering Mora in his first month at UCLA. Going through them makes it even more obvious what a great start Mora had as a recruiter and manager in terms of putting together a smart and strategic staff, which stands in contrast with the total clown-show we have witnessed under Steve Alford's pathetic and embarrassing first five months in Westwood.
I will leave you with couple of other good speed-reads on the program:
- Ryan McGree of ESPN.com has a really cool read on last weekend's game with some great quotes from Mora and Hundley which has Mora saying, "our aim is to be special," adding "our aim is not to be average." That would mean UCLA playing in a bowl game after December 31.
- ICYMI here Chris Foster's full report on Nick Pasquale's memorial service where our players joined a massive, overflow crowd of over 1000 folks at the San Clemente Presbyterian Church. It is worth noting of details of how other Pac-12 teams honored Pasquale, including a moment of silence Southern Cal had before their game against Boston College. Good for them.
Any other interesting reads, posts on UCLA football we should be taking note of? Share them in the comment threads here or via fanshots or fanposts.