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Special Thanksgiving Day UCLA Football Notes: “Turkey Bowl” at Spaulding Field

Hope everyone is having a great Thanks Giving with family, football and lots of grub. The Bruins held their Thursday practice this am as we are in the middle of a "regular" game week with our game against Stanford coming up on Saturday.

Okay, everything wasn't the same. Coach Jim Mora and his staff together put together the "first annual non-travel squad Turkey Bowl" at practice today before the team left for their Thanksgiving dinner. Here is Mora talking to reporters about it after practice today:

Mora offered his usual comments about being excited about playing against a great team as he mentioned this could be the last "home game" for the Bruins at the Rose Bowl.

He also had some interesting comments about penalties. Mora cited a "20-year study" to suggest that that correlation between penalties and winning games are "non-existent." Mora claimed that penalties in general do not matter although he acknowledged that certain penalties have more impact on games than the other. Basically he said that he has no problems penalties coming from having an aggressive mindset. The two most critical variables for winning games according to Mora are turnover ratios and "explosive play ratios" which dbear37 has been working in his weekly trajectory posts here on BN.

While talking about the upcoming opponent Mora raved about Stanford's "smart defense" which in his words play with "consistent discipline," "tackle well," and "execute the fundamentals." Not sure we can make too much out of Mora's tightly guarded coach-speak but he did talk about looking for opportunities to get our players in open spaces to attack.

On the other side of the ball, Mora talked about the challenge our ILBs will have going up against Stanford's TE's and dealing with their play action. More from Ryan Kartje at the OC Register:

"Nothing major," Mora said of making adjustments to Stanford's tight ends. "We've just got to cover them, and we have to win at the ball. What they do a great job of is using their bodies to get in the way, like Joe (Fauria, UCLA tight end) does. You throw it in Joe's general vicinity and he's good at boxing out and going up and getting it. They've got guys that do that as well."

In preparation, Mora said he's played a handful of larger, stronger players at tight end on the scout team offense, hoping to somewhat replicate the effectiveness Ertz and Toilolo bring to Stanford's passing attack.

The sheer amount of play action that Stanford uses also makes planning for tight ends more complex, as UCLA's young defense has yet to see any similar scheme this season. It'll certainly be a challenge for the Bruins on that side of the ball, and Mora understands how difficult elite, athletic tight ends can make things for a secondary.

"If they can get a tight end on the corner, the corner could have great coverage, but it's that size advantage they have," Mora said. "It's hard to come up with something to combat that. You just have to hope your guy can get in position to make a play and or that the pressure can get there and affect the quarterback's throw."

Mora mentioned that guys like freshman LBs Nate Iese (6-4, 240) and Kenny Orjioke (6-4, 222) have been playing the role of Stanford TEs for our scout team.

Mora ended the presser by saying he was "anxious" to watch some football this day as a fan as he was going to take in the games with his Dad and sons, who were flying down from Seattle. No word whether they were going to "talk playoff" implications about teams like Dallas Cowboys.

I will end with another video ICYMI from our fanshots:

That's just hot.