The routine got a bit closer to normal at Spaulding today when Coach Mora met with the media after practice. He stated that the team has had a good extended week of preparation so far. They Bruins will have a final run through tomorrow and will head to Salt Lake City afterward for the start of the all-important Pac-12 season. From Ed Lewis and BSR:
I feel like they understand the ramifications of it. I feel like they are focused. I thinking it's been a good week. I think having a bye last week has helped us but all that being said we gotta go up there and perform, we gotta go up there and compete. We gotta accept the challenge and it's a great challenge.
In my view, the major challenge for the Bruins will be slowing down a very explosive Utah offense which is led by a familiar face in Offensive Coordinator (and former ASU head coach) Dennis Erickson. Mora spoke highly of the Utes' OC:
Dennis just does an excellent job of taking advantage of weaknesses that he perceives in a defense. Every defense has a strength and every defense has weakness and Dennis has always been outstanding at exploiting that. I had a chance to work with Dennis in San Francisco and he's a great offensive mind. He's very creative as a thinker. He's very aggressive as a play caller. I have a ton of respect for him. I like him as a person. He'll have some things drawn up that we haven't seen and we just have to react to that.
When you look at this game on paper, the Bruins look to have a more talented roster. However, Utah clearly has the advantage of playing at home in a nationally televised game and will have a ton of emotion going in, and they are a very good team this year in their own right. In order to get a win in SLC, our Bruins will really need to show an increased level of maturity and mental toughness that has been inconsistent in the past. We saw glaring lapses last season against Cal and Baylor, but that attitude won in a big way at Nebraska earlier this year, With that in mind, Coach admitted he wasn't ready yet to say whether this year's team is tougher than last year's, and that this game will help give an answer
I don't know that I want to use that word [tougher] yet but I think we understand it, maybe I understand it, better. So I think that maybe we're a little more focused. I don't know if I want to use that word "tough" yet. We'll see. We've worked really hard this offseason and focused on mental toughness, you know, being a consistently mentally tough team, and we've got some great tests coming up to see where we are.
A lot of us around here have been nervous about this game, whether it's our record on Thursdays or just the hangover of years of heartbreak. Mora recognizes that Utah is a well coached and well prepared team and that the stakes for the season have just gotten a whole lot higher.
They're a very tough team. They play disciplined. They play hard. They play tough. They're aggressive. They're big. ... I just think it's a great challenge for us. You know, Pac-12 play. We're entering the jungle. I mean you can't mess up now. You can't have a slip up. I think we're excited for the challenge.
You can see the entire interview below. Thanks as always to Ed Lewis and Bruin Sports Report.