Coach Mora's Tuesday Press Availability (Video via YouTube/UCLA)
Ok, I might be going a bit over the top with that title line, but there were plenty of new faces asking questions of Coach Mora at Tuesday's presser. Note the silence from the random TV reporter when Coach Mora says that he couldn't care less about being ranked in week 2, followed by her concern of how he is keeping 'HIS GUYS' from ignoring his 'whatever' feeling of the outside praise. Another sign of the newbies hovering outside Spaulding Field - the media gathered there had just two things in mind: "Buzz", and JetSki.
I don't want to sound dismissive of the new-found attention; it shows that with even a small amount of success, UCLA Football becomes a relevant factor in Los Angeles and nationally. Something that the Folks in Morgan Center seem to have needed a reminder of. As far as the 'buzz' that Saturday's win created around the boys in blue: Coach Mora told the media that he likes that it means increased exposure for UCLA as a university, but that the increased attention is irrelevant to the coaching staff or the rest of the team.
During the presser, Mora mentions the Houston offense's fast tempo and explosiveness - displayed by the 693 yards (580 passing) gained on 115 plays in last Saturday's game - a 56-49 loss to Louisiana Tech. One of the advantages that our defense has this season is practicing against an offense similar to those it faces throughout the season, rather than the bespoke Neuheisel/Pistol. For this weekend's game, Coach Mora stressed that the Bruin defense is used to keeping up with a high tempo attack from practicing against our offense over the past few weeks.
Over at ESPNLA's UCLA Blog, Peter Yoon wrote a story on the freshmen that have contributed to the Bruins' early success. The freshman trio on the Offensive Line - Jake Brendel, Simon Goines, and Torian White - get special attention in the piece, and deservedly so.
"The skill guys can come in and play as freshmen no problem, but it's those big guys you worry about," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "We saw the potential, but they hadn't performed. That was the great unknown, but so far they have shown that they can handle it."
... [Goines] acknowledged some nerves before the Rice game, but by the time UCLA and Nebraska got to the fourth quarter in a close game in front of 70,000 fans, he said he felt like a seasoned vet."It was louder than I ever expected it to be," Goines said. "But I actually got more focused during the fourth quarter than I was the whole game. Don't get me wrong, I still have a lot of things to improve, but feel like I’m growing a lot week to week."
Yoon also talked to Steven Manfro about his dropped Touchdown pass in the Rice game, the disapointment that he felt in the aftermath and the TD against Nebraska that he hopes served as redemption. It's all good, man.
Over at Pacific Takes, Josh Schlichter (aka ucla13usc9 to the old guard here) has a great post looking at the key role of Noel Mazzone in this UCLA Football revival, complete with the charts and detailed explanations that we all knew and loved from his posts here. You all really should give it a read.
"It hurt a lot," Price said. "I remember during pregame I cried a little bit because I wanted to be out there. I wanted to be out there and help my brothers."
...Price said he watched the game from the Rose Bowl sidelines, and he came away impressed with true freshman Randall Goforth, who started at safety as Andrew Abbott moved to cornerback... "They both played great," Price said. "I know (Goforth's) a young guy but he's played like he's been here before. Abbott's played corner so I didn't expect anything less from him."
The cause of Sheldon's absence from Saturday's game has not bee disclosed, but Coach Mora did offer praise for Goforth's efforts on the practice field and the field of play later in the above article. In the Daily News' UCLA Blog, Melendez noted that two of Houston's starting offensive linemen will miss the game due to leg injuries suffered in their loss to Louisiana Tech. He also posted video of his talk with Sheldon Price on the blog, as well as a post-practice interview with Datone Jones.
I am sure that Datone and the rest of the UCLA defense will give those Houson backup linemen the warmest of welcomes to California.