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Mora Weekly Presser - Utah, Cornerbacks, Under Pressure

Coach Jim Mora discusses what happened against Cal, the secondary, the offensive line, and kicking.

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Well, this is Jim Mora's longest press conference so far this season. All 23 minutes of it.

Opening remarks and a look forward to Utah:

Well we had our meetings this morning and reviewed the film with the players, and made the corrections we need to make and try to apply them going forward. Looking at Utah now and working on that gameplan. They are a very good, physical football team on both sides of the ball. The guys that stand out to you are really their defense. They play physical, they play hard. Lotuleleli their nose tackle is one of the best defensive linemen I've seen in a long long time. He's a force, he's got great lateral quickness, he's unbelievable off the snap.

Offensively it's probably the deepest group of receivers that we've seen. They've got a bunch of guys that can make plays. We saw how they played USC the other night, aggressive, up the field, physical defense. This will be a good challenge for us, especially with our young offensive line. We got to have a good week of practice and stay focused and play as well as we can.


Discipline, Accountability, Toughness. Did any of that show up on Saturday?

I was impressed that we played hard, but we should play hard. The thing we struggled with is that we made mistakes. We had a couple of breakdowns in terms of our assignment. We had penalties that were a little more critical. We did play with toughness. I would question the discipline because of the penalties, but I don't think we're an undisciplined team, I think we just made some mistakes. Our guys are accountable to each other. There were nobody in the locker room afterwards that were taking it lightly. They were affected by the loss. It's unique to me because I haven't been in a college locker room after a loss. when you're dealing with a younger athlete I wanted to see how they reacted. I didn't know what to expect because I hadn't dealt with this age group before.

You were down by 15, and went for the field goal. Did that take the air out of the team?

We wanted to get within 2 touchdowns. There was a lot of game left to be played. That's a time when you would typically go for a field goal.

Did the team quit in the fourth quarter?

No. Absolutely not. Not a chance.

So what happened?

The score got away from us a little bit but nobody quit. In the long run we busted the defense. We made a mistake in our call but nobody quit.

When asked to distinguish on penalties and mistakes, and the penalties that were costly on Saturday:

There is a distinction between disciplines and penalties. An undisciplined team shows up late to practice, forgets their books, let the little things slip. Penalties - there was definitely a lack of focus, when you have a false start or jump offsides that's a lack of focus. Some of the penalties are a function of playing a good player and who maybe got one on you on a play and you react and grab and hold or maybe not put yourself in the right position in terms of your body on the field to make a block so you reach and you hold. I'm not sure if those are discipline issues as opposed to ability issues or not getting in the right technique issues. There are focus penalties and decision making penalties that we always have to address.

Is it disappointing to play a team that only beat Southern Utah and to get waxed the way they were?

We knew going in at looking at the film that this was a very talented football team they just hadn't been able to put it together for a game. They played some good teams - USC is a good team, Ohio State is a good team, Arizona State is a talented football team. We were playing a team with a lot of talent that finally put it together. We got beat pretty soundly. We are a talented team, we are a very young team offensively and we are fighting through some growing pains. We have three freshmen starting on the o-line, a sophomore on the o-line, we have a freshman QB, we have have a freshman slot, and because of injury Jordan Payton who had to come in and play. I've been through that before, when i was coaching at SF, I believe we started 7-8 rookies on defense and we took some lumps for a while, but they were talented guys. As they grew together and played more, you saw fewer mistakes and you saw confidence grow and they became a good defensive team. I don't know if you can always be starting six freshmen, we hope to get past that point. We hope that next year these guys will be sophomores. It's great to show recruits that they have an opportunity to play.

Six games in now as head coach, how are you a different coach now compared to six games into the NFL, after a loss?

You have to be much more observant of all the other things going in on in their lives that may affect them Saturday. Not letting it be an excuse but not crushing them for it either. Trying to help them grow up, trying to help them maneuver through some adversity and learn how to be resilient. It's a real challenge and it's a learning experience, it's something that I enjoy and I'm trying to get better at it everyday. I'm doing my best to help these kids learn how to overcome some of these things that happen. This is college football still, these are young developing kids. It is a responsibility I take seriously, and by no means I'm good at it yet, I'm just trying.

All About the secondary and defense:

Did you get adequate pressure on the quarterback to help out the secondary?

Yeah, we had five sacks. We hit him numerous times. But he was 25-30. After games it is typical for me to shake the hand of the head coach and get to our locker room as fast as I can because I like to see our players coming off the field, win or lose and just be standing there as they come in and give them a handshake. after Saturday I made it a point to find Zach Maynard, and tell him that, for me that was an impressive performance because he got hit. He's not a big guy, he kept getting up and going and going. I made a point to tell him how impressed I was with him.

On the struggling secondary:

We didn't play as well as we are capable of playing in the secondary on Saturday. Their QB got hot, we put pressure on him, he made throws, we got beat to our leverage a couple of times by Keenan Allen a really good receiver. It's competitive sports. You got to be on it and do everything right on every play or you have the opportunity to be beat and that happened a couple of times.

On whether the right calls were made in coverage:

There was a call in the red zone, and this is where i think I did a poor job. We called a blitz, and every call goes through my headset, and I know every call. Lou and I talk constantly through the game. I saw how they had recognized the blitz and they changed the play. My instinct was to call TO and get us into a better call, and I didn't do it. That's what I was talking about when failing to help the players. I had this happen to me before, in a plyaoff against Brett Favre in SF, we called a blitz, had a bad feeling about it, didn't call a timeout, they scored a touchdown, we fortunately came back to win, but those moments haunt you for a long time because part of your job as a coach is helping your players have success on the field by putting them in the right situation.

Overall, the defensive calls?

The calls were great. I was surprised when I turned on the film at how hard we played on defense. We busted about four plays that made it look really bad. Plus we were overcoming six turnovers. When you get a run on you, like we did at the end of the game, conventional wisdom is to ask did they quit? That's what it appears to be, to everyone watching on TV and in the stands. But the reality of it was that we rotated and we busted the coverage, we didn't have anybody in two gaps and we rotated the wrong way. It looks bad. But we didn't quit.

About the offense:

On offensive play calling and using Johnathan Franklin:

He had 100 yards rushing in the first half. He got dinged up, quad contusion, he got a calf contusion so in the second half he was pretty limited plus his hand was bruised. Jordan James was doing some good things for us, Damien Thigpen didn't get as involved as he usually does. We were playing from behind, throwing the ball down the field. He (Franklin) might miss practice tomorrow. It's the time of the season when you're a RB that you start to feel the hits.

Will Devin Fuller remain at WR?

We're going to use him more and more. With Darius situation being uncertain right now, he'll get more time at the Y position. In the spring he'll compete at QB but he's a really good athlete and we noticed he could do some special things with his hands on the ball. On the scout team we put him at the position where their most explosive player is and he showed up in practice. Talked to him and his dad about taking the redshirt off, and our goal is to get him 20 plays a game. We're excited to see what he can do. He has been assured he'll get a chance to compete at QB in the spring.

Will there be changes to the offensive line?

It is important that you are always looking to upgrade your team and create competition and push guys to be the best they can be. If we can find a better combination then we'll find it. I think this a very good combo, very young, struggle sometimes but a group I'm excited to watch develop. We're going to try to win the game we're playing. We're not going to sacrifice a game for experience. We're playing the young guys because they're our best option right now. I don't think it'd be far to say to Jeff Baca we're going to develop these young guys at the expense of his senior season. We're not doing that. These are our best options a lot and we like they a lot. With youth comes mistakes and if they come at the wrong time they kill you but we can't use it as an excuse either. They got to grow up and we got to help them.


About using someone other than Ka'imi Fairbairn for field goals:

The problem is I don't know if we have anyone to use for longer field goals. Once again, I'm trying to help this kid develop by putting him in positions where he could succeed and not fail. I want to feel confident that he can make a 43 yarder. If I were to question one of my calls for a field goal, it would be for the 43 yarder. He hasn't shown in competition he is ready to do that. Right when he missed that, I said "you're a dummy." Get the kid some chip shots as he grows up. He's going to be a great kicker. Jeff Locke is helping him come along and I'm trying not to screw him up. I don't know if we have a better option right now.

You have Jeff Locke

He doesn't seem to be as comfortable about doing that, but maybe I'll talk to him about that.


Are you worried about the National Championship picture?

We're worried about Utah right now.

You're a touchdown favorite.

I've never been one to pay attention to the line