Jim Mora talks about Utah’s offense and Dennis Erickson

Due to the short week of prep leading up to Thursday’s game at Utah, UCLA treated Sunday as it would a usual Tuesday practice. The Bruins had Friday and Saturday off after practicing last week, and moved into game prep for the Utes today.

Jim Mora spoke a bit after Sunday’s session:

— On early impressions of Utah: “They’re tough. They’re physical. They’re disciplined. They play hard all the time. Just like last year. They’re going to play good defense. They’re going to run the ball.”

— The addition of co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson has made Utah’s offense much more dynamic. In 2012, when former Ute quarterback Brian Johnson had sole schematic reins, the team finished with 19 pass plays of at least 25 yards and nine runs of at least 20 yards.

After four games this season, the Utes already have 13 such passes and 10 runs.

“His mindset has always been about the big play,” Mora said. “Creating the big play. I think they’re looking for that a little bit more with Dennis there. I think it’s an interesting combination, quite frankly, Dennis being there. I think he adds a lot to their offense.”

— Mora downplayed the idea that playing at Salt Lake City’s 4,226-foot elevation will affect the team: “I don’t consider that a lot of elevation. You give me a mile or so above sea level, then that’s something. 4,000 feet, I could hike up to 4,000 feet around here and be fine.”

“If you’re going to adapt to altitude, we should have left like two weeks ago.”

— Senior running back Damien Thigpen will get “five-ish” carries in his first appearance since tearing his ACL last November. He won’t return any kickoffs yet, but has been working there in practice.

“You’d like to see him run the ball up inside,” Mora said. “You’d like to see him catch a swing pass. You’d like to see him get downfield. You’d like to see him run the ball outside. I want to see him do those kinds of things. We have to manufacture some of that stuff, depending on how the game’s going.