Bruins continued their preparations for No. 11 ranked Stanford (9-2, 7-1) this Wednesday with not a lot of newsworthy items out of Spaulding. Coach Mora had his usual presser with the beat reporters after practice and he ended up having to spend time chatting about superficial issues that really don't have a lot to do about the game. WATCH:
Yes, Mora had to take time to explain a comment he made on Dan Patrick's radio show, who tried to get him to talk about Southern Cal, when Mora wanted to focus on Stanford. So when Mora said, "I don't give a rats about USC," it apparently hurt some sensitive types from the school over there. Yes, it's not like the Trojans have nothing else to worry about with a program going through a slow decay and getting flushed into the gutter under Hello Kiffin.
Apparently some of the Trogans got worked up over another stupid non-controversial comment from Mora who was doing his part to focus on Stanford. The only apology Mora should have made here was for not calling them Southern Cal, instead of using the abbreviation of University of South Carolina. Oh, BTW I posted this in the comment thread of another fanpost. Here is one of the original posts that appeared on BN four years ago basically explaining why we should call that glorified community college by its proper name - Southern Cal.
As for the game, Mora continued to gush about the Stanford program and today he particularly singled out the performance of Stanford's redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan, who has had a very efficient start since he took over for Josh Nunes (See our notes on Stanford offense here). Mora specifically gave credit to Stanford coaching staff for putting Hogan in position to succeed while Hogan has done his best to "play within himself." It should be interesting to see whether the Bruins' defensive fron-7 will be able to put requisite pressure on Stanford's solid OL and disrupt Hogan's rhythm this Saturday.
As for Mora's mindset heading into this Saturday, Kevin Gemmell shared some interesting thoughts on ESPN's Pac-12 blog:
4. About them Bruins II: I get what fans are saying about UCLA maybe playing conservative against Stanford -- not trying to lose -- but maybe keeping it closer to the vest anticipating a rematch with the Cardinal rather than having to face the Ducks in the conference title game. Even Ted made a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge at the idea in his prediction this morning. I'll say this -- it's bollocks. (I'd prefer to use stronger language, but decorum prohibits me. And yes, that was a nod to "Animal House.") Jim Mora won't coach his team to play less than 100 percent. He won't even hint at it. Anyone who has spent five minutes with the man (and I can assure you I've spent more than that) will tell you that's not how he operates. I think he wants to play Oregon. I think he wants to go through Autzen to win the conference championship and the Rose Bowl and cast an icy stare at everyone who questioned his hiring. I think he wants to tell recruits on the fence between Oregon, USC and UCLA that he stomped the Trojans and went into Autzen and took away the conference title from the Ducks. That's not to say UCLA can or will, but I expect the Bruins to come out with guns blazing in trying to win this game. Anything less would be cowardice. And you don't get to 9-2 and win your division by being cowardly. Any UCLA fan hoping for less than their team's total effort Saturday should be embarrassed.
Well those fans who are hoping for Mora to play conservative this Saturday, are probably the same people who were hoping for a "hard fought moral victory" against Southern Cal last Saturday. Don't think they are capable feeling cowardice for not having either confidence or high expectations in our program. It's a shame to see Rick Neuheisel publicly talking about UCLA needing to hold back this Saturday. It is that kind of mindset that has him analyzing games on TV instead of leading a team to the field. We blogged repeatedly taking him to task for his Donahuesque conservative mindset and so far it has been a relief to see a different approach from Mora.
Thankfully Mora doesn't take his cues from the Donahue era mindset that ultimately played a big role in UCLA sliding into national irrelevance since December 5, 1998.