Jim Mora: “There’s a good feeling around here right now. If we can stay healthy I think we can be very competitive.”

The UCLA Bruins open up the season with a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, new starting quarterback and new offense. That doesn’t worry Jim Mora. The Bruins head coach wants to make the fan base proud and believes his football team has worked hard in training camp. Brett Hundley will be the starting quarterback under center for UCLA in their season opener on Thursday against Rice. Jim Mora joined XX 1090 in San Diego with Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton to discuss toughing up the UCLA football program, the UCLA offensive scheme, naming his starting quarterback for the season opener this week against Rice, lacking experience at the wide receiver position and the importance of his team staying healthy this season.

This has been a challenge for you to start here. Was the goal to toughen up UCLA football in training camp?

“It’s more about getting into an environment where we are away from all distractions and kind of focus on football and each other and get to know each other better and it’s been great. It’s been really fine. We’ve been…we’ve had some heat issues we have dealt with, but we practice either in the morning or later in the evening. Try to stay out of the mid day heat and I think our players have responded very, very well. There’s a good feeling around here right now.”

What is UCLA’s package on offense going to be?

“I guess it’s very multiple. One thing about Noel Mazzone that is really impressive is he doesn’t coach with a whole lot of ego. He just wants to get the players in position to make plays and to be able to utilize their god given abilities and it’s never about him and trying to be a guru. It’s about trying to get his players in a position to make plays, so it’s hard to tag what our offense is. I think it’s very impossible to tag. The whole thing I can tell you for sure is in most cases we’ll be fairly uptempo and try to spread the field out a little bit, but we’ll run the ball and get that. We’ll throw it and get that. We’ll run some inside power stuff and we’ll get the quarterback on the move and we’ll stay away from any labels I think.”

You’ve got Kevin Prince who’s played tough football. You got Richard Brehaut. How do you decide who is going to be the quarterback? You chose Brett Hundley:

“Well it’s not been an easy decision for us. We hoped we could make it after spring ball, but all of them just stepped up and you left out Jerry Neuheisel, who is Rick’s son, who’s done a tremendous job himself and I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. We gotta look at their leadership abilities and how the team responds to them. Can they get the offense down the field and put points up on the board? Their decision making ability? Their accuracy? Can they make all the throws on the field?”

Are you worried about a lack of big time experience at wide receiver?

“I don’t know. I think our guys are okay in the experience department. They are not all old, five year veterans or anything. There are five year seniors, but I haven’t had that as a concern so far. No. I like our depth at receiver and I’m really excited about a couple of our young guys as well. Some of the kids in this year’s recruiting class. I think the combination of the young guys and the guys that were here in the past. It could be a pretty darn good group. I think offensively if there’s any concern right now it’s just depth along the offensive line.”

Do you think you have enough to go to war with defensively?

“Well I think the strength of our defense is our front seven. We’re a 3-4 [scheme] and we always want to be in a 3-4. We’ll play some 4-3 as well, but I like our front seven. The only concern I have in our secondary is depth, but you are right about some of those guys and the names you mentioned. There are some good players. If we can stay healthy in the secondary, kind of along the offensive line. We are still working on depth, but if we can stay healthy I think we can be very competitive.”

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