After a thrilling victory on the road against Utah, the UCLA Football team is back and practicing for a big revenge game against Cal. Here is Coach Mora after practice:
Let's start with the injury news first:
- Torian White had surgery this morning, no word on his status yet but he is definitely out for the season. We all wish Torian a quick recover.
- Jordan James is doubtful but not ruled out.
- Ellis McCarthy got hit in the head at the end of the Utah game. He is a lot better but is not asymptomatic yet, so they are erring on side of caution. If he is cleared, he can practice tomorrow and should play Saturday. If Ellis sits out, Eddie Vanderdoes or Kylie Fitts will start in his place...which is pretty amazing as both are freshmen.
Yesterday the team was cleaning up things from the Utah game. Today they moved on to the prep for the Cal game, and the focus was excellent. Apparently the players understand what is at stake after happened last year. Looks like the Rose Bowl will also be nearly full for the 7:30pm start on Saturday (IT"S ABOUT TIME!)
Brandon Willis has been wearing a blue jersey, which means he is playing on offense. Brandon hasn't been getting a lot of snaps on defense, so he had the idea, all by himself, to try and play on the OL, at Guard. Coach Mora thinks he is very athletic, has long arms and could get some snaps late in the game or in an emergency situation. The bottom line is that he wants to play, and it looks like the players really want to be a part of this ride.
With the Cal secondary reportedly suffering depth issues, Mora was asked if they would take advantage of it. Given his background as a DB coach, he said that it would depend on whether Cal would instead try to bring pressure all game in order to help the corners in a cover 2. We will see how they come out and how the team adjusts.
Myles Jack is apparently 2nd in the Pac-12 in passes defended. Coach Mora attributes this to his rare gifts, his ball skills which allow him to make amazing catches. And apparently, Coach Mora has seen him play since he was 12 (?!). Talk about seeing something in a kid.
In general Mora gushed about our front seven, and now our secondary, and seems quite pleased with the defense. It may get tested on Saturday so let's hope he continues to be pleased!
The coaches and players are highly focused on Cal, and not looking ahead because of the 43-17 beatdown they took last year. Everyone got their butt kicked, as Mora likes to say. Coach Mora continues to blame himself, saying that he did a poor job of getting the team focused. He felt it that Friday night before the game and then on the Saturday, but thinks he's learned the lesson. Let's hope so!
Coach Mora also waxed philosophical about college football, saying that every game is meaningful in college, can't get off track, as compared to the NFL where rarely anyone goes undefeated. I think most here agree that college football is just more fun.
With regards to penalties, the coaches brought in refs for the first time this regular season. Coach Mora doesn't know what causes all the penalties and all the reasons he would give would admittedly sound like excuses: it could be due to youth, aggressive play, or lack of concentration. Regardless, it is being addressed.
There were some other videos from practice today, first with Coach Ulbrich talking about Anthony Barr and Myles Jack:
Loving the Ulrich lumberjack beard, very fitting. Basically, he reiterates that Anthony Barr is very talented, and has a high football intelligence. Myles Jack is a freakish athlete with a very good feel for the game, but the best part is that he does it exactly like he is coached (calls him a "clean slate"). Very cool when a guy that talented also listens to skills.
Uli's coaching of these guys has helped recruiting, but the best thing is that Jack is a true freshman starting and having success. Ulbrich also compares Barr to NFL linebacker Manny Lawson, more raw yet with a higher ceiling.
Finally, Jordan Payton also answered some questions, talking about his breakout and his friends on the Cal team.
Thanks as always to Ed Lewis and Ryan Kartje for the videos. Hoping the boys take care of business on Saturday!