After practice on Wednesday, Jim Mora told reporters what we've all been waiting to hear: Takkarist McKinley and Eddie Vanderdoes practiced and are good to go for Saturday night's contest at BYU. Well, he didn't quite say that. But it was as close to an answer as you're going to get from Mora about injuries.
Also expected to be able to play are Jaleel Wadood, and Boss Tagaloa, who was in a boot this week ("not a cowboy boot, either"). Mora didn't say anything about Deon Hollins, but since Hollins was dressed for the game against UNLV, I'd imagine he's a go, too.
This means the defense has no more excuses. With Eddie and Takk back, the two standouts of the defensive line, Tom Bradley's defense must dominate a BYU offense that hasn't cracked the 20-point mark in two tries this season.
If the defense, allowing a not-at-all-good 5 yards per carry, still struggles to stop the run with two NFL-caliber players on the line, we know we're going to have a serious problem this year and the coaching staff will have to make some real changes.
If the defense, which has only gotten one sack on the season, still fails to get pressure on the quarterback with both Takk and Hollins available, again, significant changes in scheme and philosophy must be made.
On the other hand, if the top-line defense can put together the kind of smothering performance in Provo that we've all been hoping to see, there may be hope yet for 2016.
Gyo Shojima is the First Japanese-Born Player to Play Major College Football
Take a seat, Rudy. When offensive lineman Gyo Shojima, a redshirt-junior walk on who transferred to UCLA from Santa Monica College, entered the UNLV game last Saturday in the Rose Bowl he made history. He's believed to be the first Japanese-born football player to ever play major college football in America.
"I actually never thought about it until people told me about it," Shojima told reporters on Wednesday. "When people told me about it, I was honored."
Shojima's family moved to the United States from Japan when he was 9 years old. He started playing football in high school in Redondo Beach, but also played a year of high school ball back in Tokyo. I guess they have Friday night lights in Japan?
His father actually played football in Japan, too, while at university, as a defensive lineman.
"I knew that football is a big sport in America," Shojima said. "So when I was going to go into high school I thought to myself, why not start a sport that everyone loves? And since my father played in university in Japan, why don't I play it myself, too?"
Not getting any offers out of high school, Shojima chose to go to Santa Monica College because of its proximity to UCLA, his dream school largely for academic reasons, but also because of the potential to play football.
Shojima also has a black belt in Shorinji Kempo, a Japanese self-defense martial art I'd never heard of before.
"Offensive lineman I believe is a martial art, in terms of competing with the man in front of you. So the martial arts aspect of my experience lived on very well in my football career."
Rock on, Gyo.
Jim Mora Likes Night Games
Kickoff for Saturday night's game in Provo is scheduled for 8:15 MDT, but that's cool with Jim Mora. He prefers night games.
"I like night games. I like the day to watch college football and I like the atmosphere at night," Mora said. "And I think our players do, too."
On game days with an evening kickoff, the team will have a morning meeting and walk through. Then in the afternoon, they'll get up again and walk through certain situations so they're not laying around all day. After that, he wants them to relax and watch college football.
"I think that gets their mind going a little bit. I think they see situations. I think they get inspired. Hopefully they can relax when they're doing it, so they're not getting worked up," Mora said.
Wow, college football players are just like us. Except we do get worked up while watching. And drink beer.
Bolu Won't Call Josh Matt Leinert
While Bolu Olorunfunmi admits that he sometimes compares fellow sophomore running back Soso Jamabo to Reggie Bush, he would never compare Josh Rosen to Matt Leinert.
"I think Josh is a little better," Olorunfunmi said. "I keep Josh's name as Josh, you know. The Chosen One."
Check out more from Mora, Josh Rosen, Gyo Shojima, Bolu Olorunfunmi, and Mossi Johnson after practice on Wednesday.
Videos are all courtesy of Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News.
HC Jim Mora:
QB Josh Rosen:
OL Gyo Shojima:
RB Bolu Olorunfunmi:
WR Mossi Johnson: