Game prep still puts head coach Jim Mora on edge

Jim Mora remembers the nerves he had as a first-year defensive coordinator.

In the middle of the 1999 season, he sat in the 49ers office on a Thursday night, the last major day of preparation before gameday. Sitting in the dark alone, he worried about how ill-prepared his San Francisco squad looked. What have I gotten myself into?

Three days later, the 49ers crushed the Atlanta Falcons 26-7, unleashing five sacks and allowing just 144 offensive yards.

Little has changed since those days, even if Mora has already weathered two decades of NFL coaching stress. Now in his second year at the college level, he looks toward UCLA’s season opener on Aug. 31 with similar anxiety.

“I want it to be here quickly and I wish it was another year away at the same time,” he said. “It’s never been anything other than that for me.”

If the 51-year-old coaching veteran still gets nervous, then what of UCLA’s touted freshmen? The Bruins reeled one of the program’s best classes in recent memory, one ranked No. 3 in the country by Scout.com. They will rely on many of those youngsters to fill holes, particularly in the secondary.

“My sense about these kids — and hopefully it’s confirmed as we go through the season — is that it’s not too big for them,” Mora said.

On Friday, he named 17 players who will contribute immediately when they play Nevada at the Rose Bowl. On defense, the list includes five-star defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes — who said he is over his back injury — and nose tackle Kenneth Clark, who has performed well enough in practices to avoid a potential redshirt year.

On offense, perhaps the most prominent names will be Caleb Benenoch and Thomas Duarte. The former, who played before crowds of 25,000 in Katy, Texas, will likely start at right guard. The latter will split reps at Y-receiver/tight end with senior Darius Bell.

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  • NonAlumBruin

    Thank you, Jack, for the interviews and posts. It has been good to hear from these young men. I appreciate their attitudes about working together for the success of the team. I appreciate Coach Mora’s abilities and concern for the well-being of the athletes.

    Thank you, players and coaches, for the hard work you have put in. Last year’s improvements were excellent and you seem to be continuing on the road up.

    I can hardly wait for Saturday. One game at a time. It sounds like BOOM!

    Thank you!

  • Bruin 34

    Well said non. The way the kids and especially the coaching staff talks. It isn’t something we are used to nor have we experienced here. Saw Jeff Ulbrich on the the pac 12 network UCLA training camp. No wonder the sleeping giant has woken. Mora? Asked what is success for him and what does he want? National Championship! F’ing love it! Sounds like boom!

    • Joe Blow

      Don’t drown in the Kool Aid.

      • jabon

        Yes, only do back strokes. Or perhaps a breast stroke would suit the moment. And damn, Kool Aid is refreshing.

      • maze949

        You spend ALL day, EVERY day (yes, including weekends, starting at 7am) on a rival’s blog, and come up with the weakest, most redundant, inane “smack” (must be that SUC “education”). I really do feel sorry for you, but I just have to laugh. Go ahead, respond with yet ANOTHER comment, which I won’t read…cheat on, trOJan loser (speaking of redundancy…I guess we’re all guilty of it now and then). haha

        • Joe Blow

          Love that you keep track of me 909. Bet you don’t laugh as much as I do about a 909er like you. Drink On! Dream On! No NC fit your lousy FB program. Sugary sweet.

  • Bruin 34

    Just one thing Joe
    Since you are bringing up National Championships. You do know that the NCAA doesn’t and never has recognized a national champion since there has never been a playoff to determine a champion. So your point about USC and NC’s is pointless. Just an fyi for ya. Chin Forever! ;)

    • ThaiMex

      Hey Nubsie (J.B.)….Don’t worry about the Mythical Football Titles…You guys got it all going w/ Womens Crew!
      Fit UN torgan!