On the first day of Pac-12 Media Day at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, head coach Jim Mora followed the script perfectly when asked who would be the season starter for the UCLA Bruins?
He opened up his press conference by stating he does not know who the starting QB will be for the season, even he is impressed with the high level of competition between quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Jerry Neuhisel.
“I think that gives me some comfort that we have a great veteran group around them,” Mora said regarding his new quarterback. “We have an experience offensive line, and we have the Pac-12’s leading rusher in Paul Perkins. As well as some good backs along with an experienced and talented receiving core.”
He also added that Rosen has put on some weight and is now a solid 215 lbs. Mora is excited to see how he competes more, with a high football IQ, and called him a “unique kid”.
Mora was also confident in his new defense, especially since the departure of Eric Kendricks who went on to begin his NFL career. Deon Hollins is also a Lott Impact Award finalist this season, and has high hopes for the inside linebacker to help anchor this team defensively.
“He’s an explosive pass rusher and an amazing first step,” Mora said about Hollins. “Sometimes officials will reach for their flag, because he’s getting off before the snap but he’s not. He studies the game, and he’s really developed physically. He’s become a player that we’ve seen reach his potential.”
When it comes to the age old USC-UCLA rivalry, Mora explained that even though he and Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian are friends and respect one another. He realizes that they’re competitors as coaches, and recruiters in the same city.
The Bruins have defeated the Trojans every year since 2011, and center Jake Brendel understand the rivalry and the mission of UCLA this season.
“The biggest thing the last three years was kind of taking care of their weapons because they always have a very strong defensive corps,” Brendel said.
The Bruins will also focus on the Stanford Cardinal, a team that they haven’t beaten solidly in the last few years. Brendel believes along with Mora and the coaching staff, that the losses were a combination of a mental and physical let down. However grasp that this is the year to turn it all around in the Pac-12 Conference.