UCLA Bruins Football Coach Jim Mora was recently interviewed by Pete Thamel for Sports Illustrated's CampusRush.com. While Mora spoke on a variety of topics, one of the most interesting tidbits has to do with a game UCLA lost last season.
Thamel asked Mora what Josh Rosen learned going through the adversity of back-to-back losses to ASU and Stanford.
The Stanford game (a 56–35 loss on Oct. 15), it was really hard for him, but at the end he showed me something—a maturity and mental toughness in a really difficult situation—that gave me great hope. Do you remember that Cover-2 beater he threw down the middle?
He's talking about this TD pass to Thomas Duarte.
Yeah. Dime. For a touchdown.
He came to the sideline and he said, "I figured, what the hell. Might as well throw it." Because he's very cognizant. And I go, "Josh, you got to make that throw at every point in the game. This has got to be a throw you're willing to make in the first quarter and the fourth quarter, because that's a throw you're capable of making that others aren't. And that's an NFL throw."
I want him thinking next level. So I don't want to scare him away from making throws like that.
That's a pretty interesting look inside things from Coach Mora. In just a few seconds you can see a little bit of Rosen's immaturity as a freshman quarterback from what he said when he got to the sidelines with a remark that it's coming from someone who sounds like he didn't have anything to lose at that point in the game. While, at the same time, you can see the level of trust that Coach Mora had in his quarterback midway through his freshman year.
Mora is pushing Rosen to make that kind of decision all the time and not hold back his talents until there's nothing left to lose.
I think it's a very interesting snippet into the coach-player dynamic that exists between Mora and Rosen.
Another interesting item Mora discusses is the issue of concussions in the college game and you can tell from Mora's response just how much he cares about his players. Thamel asked, "Why do you feel so strongly about [player health and safety]?" Mora replied:
They're amateurs. I think their health and welfare are much more my responsibility at this point than theirs.... [A]t this level, I believe such a small percentage of them are going to go on and really make a living doing this that I have to be the gatekeeper of their health. And you can see a sprained ankle because it swells up. When someone blows out a knee, he can't run or walk.
With head trauma, you can't see it. You really can't recognize it except for [players] explaining the symptoms to you. And you don't really know when it is healed unless you [get an] MRI or blood test. I think there needs to be a culture change that starts at the top. And for me, I think I'm at the top....Because no win—no win—is worth someone at age 40 taking their life because of CTE. It's just not. I feel like I'm the gatekeeper.
One thing I know is if you get to know your athletes well enough, you can tell the instant something is wrong. I can tell the instant. Because I spend so much [time with them]— they sit in my office, I'm in meetings, I talk with them, I eat with them. I can tell the instant something is wrong. I don't need a doctor to tell me right now that a kid's got something going on. I'm going to yank him in a heartbeat. I'll get him out of there so quick. To me, it's my responsibility.
There's a lot more covered in the article and it's definitely worth heading over to Campus Rush to read the whole piece.
Thamel ends the article with one final tidbit from Mora on the new offense. Mora says:
I listen to some of our fan base, and they hear what we're saying and they're worried like, "Well, they're not going to use Josh. They're just going to run it all the time." [Laughs] Give me a little credit. I know what I have here. I know exactly what I have.
Interestingly, I don't think that anyone in Bruins Nation has said this. I know that my reports from Spring Practice certainly didn't reflect that idea. But, it's still good to know that Jim has a pulse on the fanbase.