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Mora Presser - Twenty Questions about Brett Hundley

This week's topics du jour: Brett Hundley, PI Calls, Brett Hundley Sacks, Injuries, and Brett Hundley.

My headset has all the answers for you, Barkley.
My headset has all the answers for you, Barkley.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The UCLA youtube channel doesn't have video, but we have video courtesy of Bruin Sports Report.

Looking ahead to Stanford:

We've got a huge challenge this week. This is a Stanford team that is outstanding. 23-3 over their last 26 games. Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, they're very smart, they're very physical, very disciplined and I think these guys are ready to play this game.

What is different about them?

A little bit more conventional offensively. More two back, more huddle, less spread, more power, more lead, more counter, more play action. Defensively, we've seen the things they do but I don't think we've seen a team that plays with the discipline, aggressiveness and toughness that these guys play with.

Is it easier to get the attention of the players since Stanford pulled off the upset of Oregon?

I don't know if any of the guys watched it. I don't t know how many of these guys read the papers. They're looking forward to the challenge. They know this is a great football team, that is common knowledge. I believe they are ranked in the top 10. When a top 10 team comes to your stadium they better get your attention.

Will the team be a little more comfortable matching up against this offense?

Comfortable in the sense that the vast majority of our experience has been playing offenses that are structured this way. Not comfortable in the power that they bring it with. Not comfortable in that our defensively players haven't seen it a whole lot. Structurally we know how, on paper, to defend a team like this. But it's about your players knowing how to understand it.

Was there anything you saw Saturday that you were waiting for this team to show?

No. Not really. I feel like all year we've been through different situations. I think back on our season and we've faced about every situation you can face and handled it pretty well. I've seen us face adversity. I've seen us get up on people and have them come back a bit, hold them off. I don't know if we played in the rain this year... I guess the rain was different. I don't think it rained at Rice, but it felt like it.

Coach, how was it Saturday when you had so many recruits at the game to win?

I think it's big for recruiting, especially in this city. We'll see how much it helps. You can't just say we got a good win against your cross town rival. We got to keep going. Most of your staff, rather than celebrate with our families, spent most of Saturday night at recruiting dinner, and most of the day Sunday. It never stops. You can't count on the win to help you, you got to do the things to help you be successful with those kids. It's good to showcase what your program has become.

Is it any harder this week to motivate the players?

I don't think it's any harder. Every week, whether you win or lose you're trying to learn. You are trying to capture those situations that create teaching moments. If you look at the game, it's a big win, but when you break it down play by play there are so many things you got to get better at. That's what we did this morning with the players. On the coaches tape, there's no commentator, there's no crowd noise, there's just your performance, so you can become very objective to what happened on that play.

Things specifically we need to improve on, Number one, we need to do a better job of eliminating big plays defensively. Number 2 we have to better in our kick off return game. We were not good on Saturday. Number 3, we have to do a better job of containing passer, especially to the defense's left. Number 4 we have to do a better job when we drop back to pass the ball, making sure we have a chance to get it down field.

I don't think any week should be a challenge. This week you're playing for possible home field (well, we'll know the outcome before our game kicks off, but who knows if the players will know.) Next week you're playing for the Rose Bowl. FIGHT FOR IT.

Is this a unique challenge this week that you already wrapped up the Pac-12 South, even if you win this week it doesn't have a bearing on the Pac-12 Championship?

You don't look at it that way. No. *shakes head vigorously.*

Is there anything you have to say differently?

Have you ever been on a team? Then you know what I'm talking about. It doesn't matter We have a game on Saturday. That's all they're thinking about. That's all they care about. These are competitive athletes. They want to win every time. And if they don't, they shouldn't be here.

Yes, Mora sounded a bit annoyed with that question.

Is this the best front 7 you'll go up against?

Absolutely. This is the best team we've played by far. I don't think it's even close.

With that front 7, Brett was sacked five times against USC. Is that a concern going into this game?

Yeah. They rush the passer really well. They are one of the top sack teams in the country. It's absolutely a concern, something we'll have to put a lot of work in to, making sure we do a job of protecting him, running routes on time so we can get the ball out. Brett's got to understand where the pressure is coming from and moving in the pocket to avoid the sacks. I want to be very clear that sacks are not a function all the time of your offensive line, it's a function of your team, so we'll have to play very well to avoid the sack.

Do they scheme differently in attacking the quarterback?

They got some smart kids, they can handle a lot. They are more exotic than you would typically see at this level.

Was there anything you saw with Brett this week, and some of it was him scrambling into the pressure?

It was the things I talked about - They've got a good defensive line. They won some battles, we won some. One of the things he's doing better, he did a great job in the fourth quarter, he had a little run where he got concerned more about the rush than what's developing down the field, I think that's a function of being inexperienced. Great quarterbacks will keep their eyes down the field when the rush is coming than worrying about the rush. Brett does a great job of that but every once in a while his eyes go to the rush instead of down the field like it should be. But at the same time he also does a great job getting away from the rush. You also got to run down field on time. He also puts the ball where it needs to be with confidence. Sometimes he moved into the pressure, sometimes we didn't move fast enough down the field.

How much have you seen his decision making improved this season?

Tremendously. He's doing a good job with the ball. The next step for Brett is to learn when to throw it away a little bit sooner. I don't think it's a bad quality to have, to believe it's never time to concede the play. I'd rather have a guy you have to teach to concede the play than the guy you have to teach to stick with the play longer.

Has Brett grown up a lot as a leader or did he have that going in to the season?

He had it but he's also grown. You saw the respect his teammates have for him because he's a hard worker and productive. He doesn't talk a lot so when he says something there is some significance to it. This team there has a tremendous respect for Brett. He handled being named the starter with a lot of grace given that there was two seniors he was chosen over. He is very humble and I think kids appreciate that. They see his hard work and the work he puts in on the practice field, that he's watching extra film, taking detailed notes in meetings and he produces on Saturday. if you're a hard worker and a good player, people will follow you.

Did you have to coach Brett up in the work ethic area?

It was there. A lot of that is just Brett as a person, and a lot of credit should go to Rick who spent a year with him. Rick's a tremendous QB coach and he knows what it takes to be a great quarterback because he was a great QB. I'm sure the minute he walked on campus rick talked about the mind set and work ethic you have to have.

Is Brett Hundley at the point where he could be considered a top quarterback?

Not yet. But if he continues to work the way he works and focus the way he has, continue on the path he's on, I think he'll be talked about as a Heisman Trophy contender very soon. He's going to be a great player.

And without being provoked, he goes on about Matt Barkley.

Matt Barkley is a great player too. I hope he's not taking too much grief. That guy is a big time player. I respected him but after being on the field with him and watching him operate, and all the little thing he does, and the way he understands how defenses are trying to attack him, and move around in the pocket, that guy is going to be a star at the next level. I compared him to Drew Brees and I wouldn't back off from him at all.

Would you have had him on the board in the NFL?

I'd want him as my quarterback. Absolutely. That guy's a winner.

If the choice were between Brett Hundley and Barkley, which would you take?

Brett Hundley.

If Barkley is like Brees, who's Hundley like?

He's still like Hundley.

Injury updates:

How will the team work through Damien Thigpen's torn ACL?

It's a huge blow to the team, and we'll miss him. You never want to see that happen to any of your players, it's a tough deal for Damien. I think he'll have a speedy recovery, he'll have a great attitude, and he'll be back in the fall. In the mean time as cold hearted as it seems, we can't spend a lot of time lamenting it, we got to move in. Fortunately we have a lot of guys who can step in and play. Jordon James should be healthy, he's been nursing an ankle. Steven Manfro should be back and rolling. When you move Manfro to RB, someone has to pick up the slack at the slot, and Devin Fuller has been doing a decent job there, and we get Kenny Walker back this week, and Darius Bell will be back at full speed this week. You just keep rolling.

It does take a conglomeration of guys to do the things he (Thigpen) does for you.

Think about the return game, the pass game out of the back field or when you flex him out, those smart empty sets or the things you do when you hand him the ball out of the backfield. I don't think one guy can replace the things Damien does - it'll take more than one. Fortunately we have those guys. They'll step up and do a great job.

Your opinion of pass interference calls in college versus the NFL?

It's a different animal in college. In the pros, after five yards you can't touch them. In college you can have your hands on them until the ball is in the air. I don't think they're any tighter. I like the PI rule in college rather than in the pros. The 15 yard penalty has less impact in the game than a penalty that could be 40 yarder. It's one of the hardest call to officiate in football. If you're a back judge you're backpedaling, against two of the best athletes on the field and you got to make a snap decision. I don't think it's perfect but i think they do a good job officiating.

Are there instances where offenses throw the ball to get PI?

I think they did it on Saturday, going in the North End Zone, he's up in the bump and run. He's got his hand on him, the ball comes out of the quarterback's hand, and he's doing exactly what he's supposed to do, it's pass interference. I had a huge issue with that call in the NFL level and at the college level. I don't have the answer for it, by the letter of the rule, it's pass interference, but he's doing exactly what any defensive back does in bump and run and he puts his hands on him. But I know this, if I was playing a bump and run, I don't know why a team wouldn't take the ball and throw a fade on every play, because by the letter of rule that's Pass interference every time they touch you.

Read between the lines: SPTR. Oh sorry, that's just how I see it.

The uniform question for the final home game.

Alternate uniforms?

Stay tuned. We might even break out something new. They will not be white. We might go white pants and dark blue jerseys. We don't want to stray too far away from what is traditionally UCLA. I know there's some people that didn't like the fact that Southern Cal wore their home jersey, but I thought it looked awesome. I thought it was a great tradition. I think it added to the whole atmosphere.

We're not going to wear white pants.

Laughs galore! Actually, I'm glad. I'm not a huge fan of the white pants. I just got flash backs to the 49ers white pants uniforms. Not an attractive look.

Birthday plans?

Yeah. Stanford.

Happy Birthday Coach Mora!