LOS ANGELES — Jim Mora had to release an injury report when he was a head coach in the NFL. He is under no such obligation at UCLA, and that won’t change this week with the status of right tackle Kolton Miller uncertain.
Miller injured his left leg in the first half of the Bruins’ 45-24 victory over Arizona last weekend, leaving the Rose Bowl on crutches. The redshirt sophomore was spotted on campus this week in a cast and using a mobility scooter, which could force redshirt freshman Andre James into the starting lineup at Arizona State on Saturday night.
“I really don’t like talking about injuries unless they are very obvious,” Mora said. “I appreciate that everyone wants to know, but in terms of competitive advantage, it doesn’t do us any good if we let our opponent know who is playing and who’s not playing, so I hope people can respect that.”
Mora and quarterback Josh Rosen were pleased with James’ performance in his first significant action. James had been playing tight end in UCLA’s jumbo package, and he was able to build on that experience when Miller went down.
“To go out on a Saturday in a competitive game — because it was tight when he went in there — and to play 33 snaps, it really helped him,” Mora said. “He is physical. Obviously he lacks a little experience, but just the fact he got those plays and some earlier in the season in the big package has really benefited him.”
After a sluggish start, UCLA erupted for 31 points in the second half against the Wildcats, but Rosen said there was “no secret recipe” for the offense’s improvement. Instead, it was a byproduct of simple things such as the offensive line blocking better and wide receivers not dropping passes.
“We just played harder,” Rosen said. “We just did better.”
If James does start against the Sun Devils’ aggressive defense, Rosen said he won’t have to make any changes. There might be some adjustments with the play-calling to ease the pressure on James, Rosen noted, but that has no impact on how he sees the game.
“There is one way to read a play against a single coverage,” Rosen said. “You can’t stray from that, regardless of who is in front of you.”
Arizona State has reduced the frequency with which it blitzes this season in an effort to protect an inexperienced secondary, but that could change if Miller is unable to play. That is the very reason why Mora refuses to disclose or discuss injuries, and would not support the introduction of an injury report mandated by the conference or NCAA.
Other schools in the Pac-12 are more open when it comes to injuries. Practices at crosstown rival Southern California are open to the media, and coach Clay Helton offers a brief summary of players’ status during his sessions with reporters. Arizona releases an injury report every week using designations similar to that of the NFL.
“The NFL does it for bettors,” Mora said. “That’s the only reason they release an injury report is for bettors, and I don’t think I want to encourage people to bet on college football. If they do, they do, but our job is to try to win, not to provide information to the fans and the teams that may hurt us in our ability to win.”
NOTES: Mora would not comment on the public reprimand he received from the Pac-12 on Tuesday for criticizing officiating in a post-game radio interview after the win over Arizona. “Man, my focus is on Arizona State and that’s it,” Mora said.
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