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Spaulding Report: UCLA Football Focuses on Focus and Defense Prepares for the Quadruple Threat

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Coach Mora spoke with the media for the first time this week and Owa discusses how UCLA's d will challenge the quadruple threat of the Wildcats.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Penalties killed the Bruins on Saturday and almost cost them the game.  While they have been improving (well, until last Saturday), we all still wonder, why does this continue to be such a big issue for our Bruins.  The media asked Coach Mora about penalties today and the issues of focus. With two days to go until the next game, Coach Mora addressed the media today for the first time this week and in response to questions discussed the mistakes they've been making, thinking vs. distractions, and the importance of the defense doing three things, "alignment, assignment, and effort".

Mora said this week they have been focused on becoming more consistent and getting rid of the mistakes and penalties.  He recognizes that they have had a rash of these and while they are always important to address, this week there has been more urgency around it.  He thinks the players are excited to show that they can do better in the mistake department.  When asked how do you accomplish improved focus Mora starts by saying that everyone has "got to give a little more".  He discusses the more demanding social/educational environment and the quicker, stronger, better athletes they are facing now that they are in college, where things don't come as easy as they are used to.  He then speaks generationally and says "this generation is so easily distracted".  He points out that, because of social media, they don't think about things as long as they used to.  They do something, like practice, and then go straight to the internet.  He really wants them to spend more time sitting with and thinking about what they do rather than moving so quickly on to something else.   Think about what you just did in practice, don't just go to the next thing.  He knows that every teacher (oh so true) and coach has to deal with this and teach in relation to it.  Coach Mora is texting them video, thoughts, and messages trying to meet them half way and interact about what they are trying to do as a team.

How do you actually take it to another level other than just repeating the message?  Mora says he is using other ways to get the messages across, like music or whatever it takes to communicate in a way that gets in there.  And when pushed a little more on how you change the penalty situation he says that it is something they have worked on more this year by doing things like bringing more officials out.  The team was improving through the season and then it all hit again on Saturday, he says.  He does think they will continue to improve with constant repetitions and improved technique and he is seeing  less thought, more reaction, improving technique, improving athleticism all the things that can help cut down on mistakes and penalties.   Mora says they don't gloss over penalties in practice.  But in games, the opponent in game, the stress of a game, and the environment affects some more than others. As an example, he says if you're trying to protect your qb and you're up against someone that is getting by you, sometimes you do the wrong thing.  So it comes back to working on technique, hands, eyes, footwork.  It's constant repetition with these things.

When asked about the front seven's discipline he says this is critical in a successful defense.   It's critical that they take care of what they are responsible for and are disciplined.  "Alignment, assignment, and effort are non-compromising" he says. If you do those things properly, you might still get beat sometimes, but if you stick with these three principles it will turn out well for the most part.

Here is the full video:

Video courtesy of Edward Lewis, BSR TV

Owamagbe Odighizuwa took some time Tuesday to talk about the Arizona offense. He compares Wildcat QB Solomon to former Oregon QB Masoli because they are both agile and get rid of the ball quickly.  In trying to stop the up tempo, "quadruple threat" offense UA has, he says the first step is to stop the run.  Doing that can help them dictate the game.  They need to be sound and not try to be heroes.  As to the quadruple option, Owa says it will be really challenging  for the d-line and it can take them out of the game by executing effective run fakes and then throwing quick passes over them. The d-line is going to try to get their hands up to prevent that from happening.  It is important for Owa and other leaders to be a voice for the young guys and to keep reminding them to play their spots, rather than trying to do too much.   The Cats try to gas the defense which makes it really important to do things right.  Personally (when asked), Owa is glad he has been able to be flexible and help the team in different ways and, while there are always things he can improve, he feels good about his progress this year.

Here is the full interview:

Thank you Jack Wang, InsideSoCal.com/ucla for the video.

On Tuesday, Jordan Payton and Eric Kendricks received national recognition. Payton was one of five players added to the Biletnikoff watch list.  Erik Kendricks became the Lott Trophy IMPACT player of the week for the third time.  You can vote for the Biletnikoff Award once a day at their Fan Vote Page.

The OC Register has a good look at Arizona Quarterback Soloman who has stood out in the "League of Extraordinary Quarterbacks".  Everett Cook of the L.A. Times discusses how Jim Mora is trying to make social media an aid rather than a distraction.  Jack Wang takes a look at the near 1000 yard season Paul Perkins is having and Chris Foster says UCLA has a plan to do better on defense, "tackle better". You can also listen to Coach Rodriguez talk about the upcoming game here.

For those of you who missed The Drive last night, they ran a really touching piece on Devin Lucien and his mom who has been struggling with breast cancer.  What a wonderful mother and son connection they have.  It is a short clip, but when the full episode comes out you can see the full story here.

Also, for those of you who use Amazon, The Count On Me Foundation has a way you can help L.A. kids every time you buy.  You can read more about it here or at their website and see how to help when you buy.

Have a great week and as always...

Go Bruins!