Thursday Report: UCLA coach Jim Mora talks about Jeff Baca’s possible return Saturday, Jordan Zumwalt not flying with team and Colorado’s QB.


Hat Tip: BruinSportsReport publisher Edward Lewis

Opening remarks:
I’m like a dang broken record when I come over here. I’ve been trying to think about something different to say to start it out, but it was a good week of practice. They responded well to the challenge of fighting back from a loss. We got a practice tomorrow morning. We’ll just walk through some stuff. A lot of mental stuff to do. These guys now have to go to their first classes of the year. Think the first class is at 9. We’ll see how they adjust to that. It looks like Jeff’s gonna be good to go. I don’t mind reporting that. I don’t mind you guys reporting that either. He was really up beat yesterday. I’ve never seen a smile that big on his face. He came out today. He looked good. He did well. Hopefully they got his headaches under control and he can help us. It’s just good to have a veteran guy like that on our offensive line with the youth that we have. As soon as he gets in there, it’s like (sigh of relief) for the other guys. You want to get to the point where that doesn’t take place, but right now it’s taking place so it’s good to have him back. Jordan Zumwalt is out. He will not make the trip and he will not play. As some of you probably know he got in a scooter accident. He had a pretty wicked gash over his left eye and he can’t put his helmet on yet. So we’re not going to take him on the trip. Other than that we’re in pretty good shape, health wise. Excited to go and put last week behind us and move on.

On whether Zumwalt needed stitches:
He needed a lot of stitches. He had it done here at UCLA Medical Center. They called a plastic surgeon in and they just did a tremendous job on it. Really, he can’t put a helmet on. It reached up enough into his forehead where if he put a helmet on it wouldn’t be good. So he’s got the week off. We’re very hopeful and confident he’ll be back next week.

On how Zumwalt’s absence affect the linebacker position:
The thing that helps us is that Damien Holmes has versatility. He can play inside and outside. You’ll see more of Ryan Hofmeister this week. He’s ready to go. The thing you miss when Jordan’s not out there is his energy. He plays with maniacle effort all the time. But somebody else has to do that, that’s what we’re trying to preach.

On the history of players involved in scooter accidents and any possibility of outlawing them:
I thought about that. I was at the hospital Sunday with Jordan and his family and a bunch of our players. It’s ironic. I’m sitting in the emergency room waiting to see a kid that just got in a scooter accident and five of our kids pull up on scooters. A lot of our athletes and a lot of our students rely on those to get around because parking is such a premium. There’s a lot of demand for these kids to be on time, and I don’t know that i can do that. I think a parent can do that, I think a school can put that in, but I don’t know that it’s the right thing to do. What’s important is they wear helmet. That their helmets are buckled. Jordan had his helmet on. He had his helmet buckled so it didn’t fly off when there was collision. I’m not a big fan of motorcycles and scooters, but it’s kind of the way these kids that live a mile off campus get around. I thought about it but I’m not ready to make that move yet. I pray every day those kids are safe and healthy.

On whether Zumwalt was being reckless:
No. It wasn’t his fault. He was not being reckless. It was just an accident that happened. It happened right here off of campus. I don’t know that anyone was cited. I don’t know the details of what transpired. I know what happened with the version that I got. I didn’t get both sides of the story. But it didn’t sound like he was being reckless at all. He was just going to get some breakfast. Thank goodness he had his helmet on and had it buckled.

On importance of having a good showing after a loss:
It’s critical. I really do. For us as a football team to show ourselves first of all that we can handle adversity. For our fan base to restore any faith that we may have lost by losing on Saturday. Just to get our momentum back. It’s very important. It’ll be tough. It’s tough to win on the road, but it doesn’t matter. We have to go do it. I like the challenge. I think it’s great this early in our development to see where we are and see how we handle it. See if we have the mental toughness.

On balancing with not overstating the case:
Really, when you talk to the team you just make it about yourselves, playing to our standard. We always prepare for the opponent: we run their plays, we run their defense. But when we go in and talk in meetings we’re essentially trying to elevate our standard of play. So we try to keep the focus on us and the way we’re playing rather than the opponent and where we’re playing and what the game means in terms of rankings or bouncing back, things like that. I think if we can do that we can develop some consistencies. The emphasis is we need to play good football, execute and play with great effort.

On Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb:
I watched him again last night, specifically to just watch him. He’s elusive. He throws well on the run to his left, which isn’t easy to do. He’s a guy that when he gets out of the pocket he remains a passer. Like, you’ll see quarterbacks as soon as they get out of the pocket they tuck the ball. So that’s an indication to your secondary that we can come out of coverage and pursue this quarterback. This guy keeps it in his hand and he keeps his eyes down the field and remain a threat to throw the ball. And that makes it hard, plus he’s accurate on the run. I saw him throw a couple across his body when he was moving to his left. He plays with a lot of confidence and he’s not easy to get down. He’s slippery back there.

On Webb, then, possibly running into Anthony Barr if he rolls to his left:
I would hope so. I would hope so. Anthony is a guy … You bring up his name. I don’t know if you guys notice it like we do. I’m sure you do. The guy’s playing tremendous. The level that he’s playing at considering his experience at that position is really amazing. He’s played four games at outside linebacker in his life. I think he told me two plays or two games at Loyola. He’s just doing some amazing things. You sit with him in meetings. He’s in the front all the time. He answers every question first. He knows every adjustment. He’s so committed. It’s really neat to see him grow the way he is.

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