UCLA Football Head Coach Jim Mora met with the media for the final time before Saturday's rivalry game with Southern Cal. Not surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of in depth information. Instead there was a theme of sticking to their routine and what has gotten them this far.
Mora started off by saying that the team's preparation remained essentially the same this week and that the staff didn't significantly change their model for this game. He feels the team has been fairly successful with this formula, and that sticking to what they are used to should help keep the players from getting too wrapped up in the hype and emotion of the rivalry. His comments and direction reflected much of what we heard from the players earlier this week, so it sounds like the team is all together going into this game. He added the players look focused and excited to play, but it sounds like they are trying to keep things business as usual around Spaulding.
After the 4 (2 real ones) penalty performance against Washington, Mora wouldn't say that the penalties problem are gone for the Bruins. He said the team has done a really nice job of owning the issue and that it will be important for them to continue that mindset this weekend. There was an allusion to the horrible SPTRs when he said that he hopes that the officials understand the significance of this game and that penalties don't have a role in deciding the outcome of the game.
Mora spoke a lot about his background with Southern Cal coach Steve Sarkisian, saying he has great respect for him as a coach and a person and called him a friend. He added his gratitude that Sarkisian offered him the opportunity during his time out of the NFL to be around Sark's football program in Washington. Mora got to sit in on some of the UW meetings and practices where he realized a great appreciation for the college game. Mora said his biggest revelation with the college environment was how much he enjoyed being around college athletes and having the opportunity to make a difference in the kids' lives both on and off the field.
Mora had high praise for Southern Cal defensive lineman Leonard Williams, and then finished by saying he doesn't have any specific pre-game speech prepared, calling them overrated. Rather he will let the attitude and mindset that has been created through the years provide much of the preparation and motivation, and he'll just add what he feels is right before they take the field.
You can watch the whole interview below. Thank you, as always, to Ed Lewis with Bruin Sports Report for making the video public. Besides the interview with Mora, the video also offers prime coverage of our friends Chris Foster with the LAT and Ryan Kartje from the OC Register behind Mora, the hideous monstrosity of Block's ridiculous hotel looming in the background, the constant and nearly overwhelming clatter from the construction, and the still silky smooth tones of Jim Hill, who I grew up watching on TV 35+ years ago.
video from BSR TV via YouTube
Mora later spoke with Foster about which of the trogan players worries him, and then proceeded to name almost all the trogan starters, giving due respect to their QB, running backs, receivers, O Line, and several defensive players. It was good respectful pre game coach speak, and it was fair, but Foster added his own great tag to finish it.
Inside UCLA's Jack Wang appeared on ESPN's Sports Center a couple mornings ago to discuss the state of UCLA going into the rivalry game. Unlike what we would hear from the coaching staff or players though, Wang hits it on the head when he says this game, beyond the obvious implications in rankings and Pac-12 South standings, is important in that it offers UCLA an opportunity to put a definite stamp of authority on the football scene in Los Angeles. Winning the last two years felt great, but there is the fact that the trogans were still reeling from the NCAA sanctions and having Lane Kiffin was like a gigantic extra penalty on top of that. Many people feel that the Bruins still need to prove they can beat a Southern Cal program that isn't the glorious dumpster fire it was the last two seasons.
Thanks to Jack Wang for the video.
I hope the team is able to stay focused because I'm already pacing like a caged tiger. I want this one so much.
Two more days.