Yesterday, at Pac-12 media day, Coach Mora got a chance to answer many questions from assorted media and took the opportunity to really lay out his expectations for UCLA football. Thanks to Ryan Kartje of the OC Register for making the video available:
As to how the team is approaching the high expectations for the year, Coach Mora outlined his view:
Every day our goal is just to be the best we can be that day and comeback the next day and be a little bit better.
He said players are focused on "the process, the grind, and going to work every day and being great". He is not worried about all the attention they are getting nationally. Instead he says they are focused on their work, each other, and getting better. He said because the players have really bought in to the mind set of being focused on each day he is not worried about the possible distraction of The Drive. There will be guidelines in place so that the players and space for the team, including using photographers that the team is familiar with at first. Coach Mora also has complete editorial control of what goes out.
Coach Mora is very focused on building team which is part of the reason for going to San Bernardino. He says the training camp experience is really important because it helps players bond with each other, learn how to overcome obstacles and get away from other distractions. There will be no Navy Seals "retreat" this year but the temperature will be hot, Mora hoping it will be in triple digits.
On Brett Hundley's development. I am really impressed with the things Coach Mora discussed with Brett and the work h has been doing in the off-season. Coach Mora talked about trusting Brett. He says the coaches and players have developed a lot of faith that Brett is going to do the right thing because he's worked hard on his craft and because of the kind of person he is:
When you see a young man work as hard as Brett is and be as invested as he is in his team and in his position it gives you a lot of faith in him.
Hundley spent time this off-season with Philip Rivers, Payton Manning, and Tim Tebow in learning his craft and in learning how to manage his time, his team, and learning more about leadership. Brett also spent time sitting down with other positional coaches like Coach Klemm to really learn the other parts of the game so that he could have a deeper understanding of what is going on. Coach Mora says Brett is an amazing young man, gracious, incredibly mature, genuine and because of his qualities will not be phased by all the attention he is getting. I also really like that Coach Mora, rather than worrying about this, says that Brett deserves the attention, because of the kind of player and man that he is.
Coach Mora is impressed with all of the quarter backs in the Pac-12, which he says are by far the best group of quarterbacks in the nation. He says that makes it more challenging for the defense as each week they need to prepare for a different kind of excellent quarterback.
Mora is not satisfied with UCLA's success at this point. It has been "limited" in his eyes. However, that success plus the visibility of players like Myles Jack and Brett Hundley have helped with recruiting. And as for Stanford and the inability UCLA has had to beat them, Mora praised their consistency and that they don't make mistakes, which is says is "what we're struggling for".
On defense, Mora discussed the challenge of replacing all the the pressure that Cassius Marsh and Anthony Barr created last season. While he knows there is talent this year, he says that pass rushing is just something that will be difficult to replace. On offense, Mora wants the team to be able to win with the run when necessary and win with the pass when necessary. This is what he would mean by balance. He believes with the improved OL depth and the improvement of Brett's passing game and the receivers that the passing game will be more solid.
On commitment: Mora discussed his commitment to UCLA and most of all, to the young men he brings in to the program. Besides what we all know, that there is no better place to be than UCLA: "I love it here, UCLA, where else are you going to go?", Coach Mora shows a real commitment to the players which seems a rare commodity these days.
We go into their homes, we talk to their parents, we ask them to commit to us, and then you see coaches running out on them. I don't think that's right...We talk to our kids about being selfless and sacrifice and putting the team first...and then you see coaches where the first opportunity comes up to take off and better their situation , they run and do it and they leave these kids behind with these, to me, empty lessons. That's not who I want to be.
Thanks Coach Mora for bringing this kind of character and commitment to our football program.