UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked to the media for the last time before the Bruins’ 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Stanford on Thursday. Here’s what he covered.
— On whether or not Stanford represents a significant hurdle for the team: “I think you make a mistake if you look at it like that. I think you have to look at it like one game. That’s always been our approach. … Once you start making one game more important than the other, you open yourself up to inconsistency.”
— On USC firing Steve Sarkisian yesterday: “He’s a friend of mine. Certainly, my heart goes out to him. I wish the best for him. I care about him.”
— Mora said that UCLA has become a more physical program since losing to Baylor in the 2012 Holiday Bowl. And while the Cardinal’s defensive line is thinner than it has been in past years after losing three starters, Mora thinks it’s still talented enough to pose a big challenge.
Mora was also asked whether or not time of possession becomes more important against Stanford, which is third nationally with an average of more than 35 minutes per game. UCLA is down to just under 26 minutes per game, a notable drop after averaging more than 29 minutes in each of the past three seasons.
“So many teams go so fast on offense,” Mora said. “You can be very effective on offense. You can stay on the field on third down on offense, end in a score, and still not use up a ton of clock.”
— Linebacker Jayon Brown (back) and cornerback Marcus Rios (sinuses) will both be ready to play against Stanford, Mora said. Brown had moved into the starting lineup after Myles Jack’s season-ending knee injury, and should reprise that role if he’s fully healthy.
The LA Times reports that offensive tackle Simon Goines has retired from football due to his medical condition. Goines started 20 games in 2012 and 2013, but has since been sidelined by various injuries.