UCLA had a light morning session, working primarily on situational work, but the big news is that…
VIDEO: Mora on Saturday
I thought this morning, even though we slowed it down a little bit, it was extremenly productive. A lot of situational work. You saw post-practice, the way we cooled them down. I like where we're at after six practices. Here is what's impressive today. A lot of times, they thought we would come out in full gear. We decided last nght we shouldn't, we'd ramp it up this evening. I've seen when the dress for practice changes, the intensity of practice plummets. From the get go, they were locked in and focused. That too me shows the signs of a maturing football team.
On Adarius Pickett to running back:
First of all, he was a really good running back in high school. We think that he's a guy that can contribute this year, for sure on special teams. Just the way the depth is at defnesive back, I don't know if he'd get in the rotation. He seems like the perfect guy and he's excited about it. If we can get him involved on offense and special teams, then it's worth playing him as a freshman. We're looking for reasons to not redshirt guys and Adarius is a perfect example. It might be a better spot for him. After a few days, it might not be but right now it is.
On if it was Pickett's idea:
It was us. But he was open to it. His quote to Coach Meat was 'I'll leave here the starter.' And not in an arrogant type of way but a determined type of way. He's excited about it. I look at Jalen Ortiz, and he's doing good at corner. Charles Dawson is doing a good job in the slot. It's always fluid, especially for the younger guys, they did a lot in high school, and maybe this is the right spot for them. I know he's a good football player, I know he's tough and I know he's competitive.
On Marcus Rios:
Marcus Rios has done an outstanding job. As a staff, once every few days, you go through your personnel and see what you have as a team and Coach Martin felt that he was one of the players who's shown the most improvement through the first five practices. He's making plays. I don't know that any of us knew what to expect from him, you have to hope. You remember, at the end of his freshman year, he was playing well. Then he went through that amazing ordeal, and the way he's come back. I guess on one hand, it's surprising, but then when you understand the fortitude he had to come back from, it shouldn't surprise you. Like we talked about with Aaron Wallace, when you lost something you love, when you have a crisis, I mean he was facing death even, it puts things in order. This is something he loves to do.
On Priest Willis:
The guy who keeps jumping out to me, and you're going to laugh, but it's Priest. There is no doubt the guy is a corner. He's really doing a nice job. He's locked in, he's competiting, he's making plays on the ball, he's running well. His confidence level has shot up. He's got to do it in games. He's more comfortable in the positon. When you're long legged like Priest, you have to compress yourself. He's playing with a narrower base and a lower center of gravity.
On who flashed on the first day in pads:
Matt Dickerson. Ainuu Taua. The three scholarship defensive linemen are all doing a good job. Right now, we think all three of those guys are going to help us this year. Ainuu will be a guy we'll cross train because he was a good tight end, so when we get into those packages that we use, we'll use him as a fullback or tight end. We'll try to find ways to use him. Nickel rusher or 3tech. Jacob is very athletic. Matt goes down and does the pass rushing and does some things. Alex Van Dyke is getting better. Kenny Young, because know he can use that physicalness that he has and he'll smack you. Najee Toran is right now running with the first team. He plays with a level of violence that you like.
On the linebacker spots:
It's really fluid right now, there are different ways you can go. EK is going to be out there and Myles is going to be out there, then you find the configuration. Is that Jayon or EK? Or Jayon or Kenny Young? Is it Aaron Wallace or Kenny Orjioke? Deon Hollins has looked really good. Cameron Judge is showing up. It's an impressive group of linebackers. It's a really good problem to have. I'm still concerned about the pass rush. You saw that Cassius had a sack, AB had a sack, both looked pretty good, they're not going to be easy to replace.
On if there is a rotation:
Starting is more for the individuals ego. As many plays as we play on defense, guys have to play. In this conference. We're going to need to rotate guys. PArt of our job is to get guys a role. You'd like everyone on your team to have a role. It might be scout team, it might be third down. When they have a role on the team, the more positive their experience is going to be.
On Fabian Moreau:
I've seen improvement. Here is where Fabian has improved- at the point of attack. The moment of truth, here comes the ball, and he doesn't panic. That to me is a sigh of a guy gaining confidence. You see guys who get in good position, but when the ball comes, they start to panic. And Fabian looks more comfortable in the ball. I think he's a really good player. I've stated it and maybe overstated it, but he's a good player, a really good player. We've made for the most part, pretty good decisions of moving guys from offense to defense. When you get guys from high school who are the best on their team, and they play both ways, you flip them to another spot, they're better. It's like with Jalen and Charles.
On Tahaan Goodman's intensity:
I sometimes worry about Tahaan, not Tahaan, but I worry about him because he is a violent player. I don't have to remind him too much. I tell the team to be careful and not cheap shot. If everyone is playing at the same tempo, we'll be ok. I'd rather tell a guy to pull back then to push a guy, and Tahaan I don't have to push to go.
On the depth in the secondary:
What's been fun for me is watching the guys we call the four starters, they have that chemistry. And to see Tahaan as he's developing. Getting Marcus back. Seeing Priest. Most of these guys, I wouldn't have a problem.
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- I heart Jim Mora....
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- greatest city rivalry in university athletics worldwide!!!!
- We are actually getting good enough to compete/beat Oregon. I
- Show your Bruin pride today