UCLA Coach Jim Mora reminds Bruins that opportunity is knocking

There is "The Art of War" and the art of coach-speak.

UCLA Coach Jim Mora quoted one and strayed from the other just a bit on Wednesday.

With the Bruins preparing for Saturday's game at Arizona State, Mora said that he briefly talked to players about opportunities.

"This is a big one for us," Mora said. "This is a big one for Arizona State. I think it has a lot of ramifications down the road."

UCLA sits one game behind Arizona State and USC in the Pac-12 Conference South Division standings. The Bruins still have a game to play against the Trojans too.

"Everything we have worked for all year is kind of coming to fruition," linebacker Anthony Barr said. "It's right there in front of us. We just have to go take it. No one is going to give it to us and no one expects us to take it."

UCLA has not won a conference title and gone to the Rose Bowl game since 1998, a 13-season drought that is the longest in the program's history.

Mora lifted his one-game-at-a-time veil this week to allow the Bruins to take a peek.

"Not to get all philosophical, but I told them what Sun Tzu said: 'Opportunities multiply as they are seized,'" Mora said.

"We don't want to talk too much about the long-term future," the coach added. "We want to talk about this game against Arizona State and doing our best to get a win."

But, he said, "I thought at this point of the season, it does become more clear. I did it so we understood where we are."

Mora almost immediately had a small regret, though.

"Don't over-blow that," he said. "It was just a quick 'Here is what's out there for us. I want you to recognize it. Let's look big picture just a minute.'

"I wanted them to understand that if we take care of business, there are some really good things for us in the future."

Asked what those good things were, Mora laughed and said, "See, you're trying to broaden the focus and I'm trying to narrow it."

Winning the South Division?

"That would be considered a great thing," Mora said. "Right now we're focusing on the Arizona State Sun Devils."

Going to the Rose Bowl?

"That's a great thing," Mora said. "It's fun to go there. We get to go there next week [to play Arizona]. But right now we're thinking about this Saturday."

Beating USC?

"I don't even know when we play them," Mora said.

Nov. 17 at the Rose Bowl.

Said Mora, "We broadened the focus and narrowed right back down. What's important is to have good meetings at 4:30 today and that's it."

Said Barr: "We win each game here on out, starting with Arizona State, and the rest will take care of itself."

Line shuffle?

Tackle Torian White, who is coming back from a minor medical procedure last week, increased his workload Wednesday. However, UCLA coaches are preparing contingency plans for the offensive line in case White is unable to play the full game.

One option would be to insert Alexandru Ceachir at guard and move Xavier Su'a-Filo from guard to tackle.

Ceachir, a transfer from Santa Monica College, is originally from Moldova. He had little football training before coming to the United States but has shown considerable improvement since the spring.

"I'm getting more than my usual reps this week," Ceachir said. "It's real encouraging. It feels great having the coach's trust."


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