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Spaulding Report: McKinley will play; Jack will play; Hundley, who knows?

Coach Mora met with the media after practice and discussed which Bruins were playing this week (Takkarist McKinley, Myles Jack, Fabian Moreau), which ones weren't (Randall Goforth), and which ones…well...who really knows? (Brett Hundley)

This guy will be playing defense this week.  Whew.
This guy will be playing defense this week. Whew.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday is Thursday this week because Thursday is Saturday, so the Bruins had their last major practice before heading to Tempe to meet the ASU Sun Devils on Thursday night.

Mora is still playing coy about whether Brett Hundley would be playing this week, admitting Brett's done "a few things" during practice this week, but he wouldn't give up any details about how he feels.  He did say it would come down to how Hundley feels, what the doctors recommend, and what Coach Alosi thinks.  Mora did repeat on several occasions that his own priority was first and foremost the health and welfare of his players, and that the thresholds for that are different in college compared to the pros. Mora took care to repeat that phrase a couple times which may have been a subtle message to potential recruits who were reading about allegations of the opposite at Southern Cal.

Mora didn't think that withholding info on Hundley would have any real effect on defensive preparations by ASU, noting that the Sun Devils' coaches are going to be preparing for Brett as well the U.C.L.A. scheme, and because there really isn't the ability to change an entire offensive scheme on short notice and with limited practice time, it wouldn't matter much to the ASU defense which quarterback the Bruins line up at game time. He complimented ASU Head Coach Todd Graham, calling him a tremendous defensive coach and saying they aren't going to pull anything over on Graham, even going so far to say he is "nowhere near the coach that Graham is".  Hmm.

Mora is right that the scheme can't be changed in a couple weeks, but what can change is the thickness of the playbook. I think we saw a simplification of the playbook in the second half against Texas where the Bruins, with Jerry Neuheisel unexpectedly in the game, found a few running plays that worked and kept going back to them. That general approach makes sense regardless of personnel.  If the Bruins find a matchup they can exploit, it just makes sense to maximize it. There is no obligation to call every play in the playbook once, but there is an obligation to exploit a weakness and put points on the board. Let's hope offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone keeps this in mind and goes with what works.

So while Hundley officially remains a game time decision, although I'm sure Mora already knows if Brett's playing or not, we do know that safety Randall Goforth is unfortunately out for the season, and that's a tough loss on defense.  Tahaan Goodman and Jaleel Wadood got good game experience in relief and the Bruins used the bye week to get them some extra study time and reps. Mora is hopeful that safety Anthony Jefferson will be back on the field this week. He added that Adarius Pickett and Charles Dawson have the ability to play in the secondary, too, to add some depth to the unit. Fabian Moreau should also be back on Thursday.  He was limited near the end of the Texas game by an elbow injury but Mora praised his toughness when he reentered the game late when the secondary was struggling. As a whole the secondary is a bit banged up so I expect we'll see a lot of faces back there during the game.

One new face the Bruins will have on defense this week is JC transfer Takkarist McKinley. Mora said "He's gonna play.  We're gonna play him". McKinley will be limited due to his unfamiliarity with the playbook, and he may work out of either a two point or three point stance, depending on his own comfort for now, but at 6-3 and 250 with a 10.58 100 meter dash in high school, he sounds the part of an impressive defensive lineman. Mora complimented McKinley's speed and strength, saying he knew he was fast but was surprised at how powerful he is. Keep an eye out for #98 this Thursday.

Another face the Bruins will have on defense this week is Myles Jack. Remember that Jack played exclusively on offense against ASU last year, and the Sun Devils exploited his absence from the outset.  Mora admitted that decision was a mistake and that he regretted it on the very first drive of the game, calling it a "huge mistake on my part" and a "pretty stupid tactical error" (Umm, yes. Just read the game threads, coach!). One big reason we'll see Jack back at LB is the presence of Sun Devils' running back DJ Foster. Mora called him a "special player", "unique", and "a really great receiver".  He is a tough matchup out of the backfield, so the Bruins will need Jack's speed and freaky pass defensive skills to keep him in check.

You can watch all of Mora's post practice here.  A big rec to anyone who can transcribe what Mora is saying about Southern Cal at the start of the video.

As always, our thanks to Ed Lewis from Bruin Sports Report for the video.

from BSR TV via YouTube

Stay tuned to Bruins Nation for any updates or additional interviews that surface throughout the day.