Here's what defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said today about John Ross, UCLA's offense, quarterback Brett Hundley and a few other topics.
(On John Ross playing cornerback) “He’s such a good athlete so we’re just going to kind of play him all over the place, but he’s definitely going to be at a corner spot, whether he’s going to be on the slot or he’s going to be outside. He’s so athletic that we can really put him anywhere.”
(On the group as a whole through nine games) “I’m very pleased. They’ve come along really well. We’ve got to install more coverages as the weeks have progressed. Done a good job of not giving up a lot of explosive plays. That’s one of the golden rules in our room is to not give up any explosive plays and give that offense that electric play right down the field. So we’ve come a long way that way. Still got a long ways to go.”
(On Sidney Jones’ 12-tackle game at Colorado) “I love the way Sidney competes. He doesn’t turn down hits. He steps up to the challenge. He loves being 1-on-1. For him to have 12 tackles last week was impressive. It’s better than having 12 missed tackles. So they’re catching these hitches, they’re catching these curls, he’s tackling them. They’re catching the ball, but that can be frustrating for an offense to only get five yards, seven yards, eight yards and have to punt. So he’s executing the gameplan. He’s doing everything we ask, and he brings effort, energy and toughness every Saturday, and I respect that.”
Never miss a local story.
(On UCLA’s offense) “Very explosive offense. Have a lot of athletes outside. Really good runner, No. 24 (Paul Perkins). And then the quarterback has really hurt people during pass plays, when the routes break down and then he rushes. So we’ve got to do a good job of containing. We’ve obviously got to cover up the pass routes first. They’ve got these great receivers out there. But then when he tucks the ball and starts running, we all collectively have to make sure we keep him bottled up as much as we can.”
(On UCLA receiver Jordan Payton) “He just attacks the ball in the air. He’s a big body. Great ball skills. He’s got speed. He’s a matchup nightmare, and he’ll definitely be something to deal with.”
(On Brett Hundley’s running ability) “He’s definitely the best runner we’ve faced. I haven’t looked at the stats, but I’m sure he has more rushing yards than all those quarterbacks you just mentioned. And he looks to run and he doesn’t quarterback slide. He’s running through you like a tailback. And he’s a big, physical specimen, so it’s going to be all hands on deck to make sure we get him to the ground.”
(More on that) “You can have the perfect coverage called, cover everything up, it’s 3rd-and-7, and then he scrambles for eight and they’ve got a fresh set of downs. It’s frustrating. And that’s why it’s kind of the new thing to do here in the last few years is get a guy like that. We’ll definitely have different coverages and different rush plans to keep him contained, but like I said, it’s going to be all hands on deck. It’s not just going to be on the d-line. It’s not just on the linebackers, DBs. As soon as he breaks the line of scrimmage, we need 11 Dawgs hunting and getting him on the ground, and make sure he thinks twice about running later on in the game.”
(More on John Ross at cornerback) “I’ve been politicking since I arrived (laughs). We’re always looking to get the best guys on the field. John Ross is obviously just a phenomenal athlete. He’s fast, he’s tough, has great ball skills. So we’re just trying to utilize all the talent we have on the whole team, and that’s every position. … I’m always looking to see who can fill needs and who can make us better. That’s our job as coaches, to make sure we put guys in position so we can win every Saturday.”
(On young guys picking up the system) “We’ve really been able to install a few more coverages as guys are starting to understand concepts a lot better. It’s not just day-one stuff like it has been since August and working through the first quarter of the season. And so it’s really nice to be able to go into a meeting room and the fellas already understand – ‘OK, coach, we understand that coverage, what’s next?’ And now, ‘oh, I can jump that route in this coverage?’ ‘Yes. You can do that. We could have done that two months ago, but you guys weren’t ready.’ Now they’re ready for it. It’s just nice every single week, they’re progressing more and more and more, and that’s our job, just keep getting them better.”
(Does that go back to the idea of banked reps?) “Yes. Exactly. And now the offense does this or we’ve got to make sure we tweak our coverage to cover this up, and they can say, ‘oh, that’s the same as this,’ and now they have a little bit of a recall and it’s not so brand new.”
(On Budda Baker’s progression) “That really started back in Hawaii. We all remember back in his very first collegiate game. Got beat on a couple first downs, 12-yard catches, 15-yard catches, and what I loved about the guy, he didn’t blink. Didn’t blink one time. Got back up, ‘what’s the next call? Here we go.’ And that goes to his toughness. He showed that in high school. It’s the reason why he was a highly-touted recruit, and sure enough, he brings that toughness to our team, day in and day out. He messed up on that play, it didn’t matter. Next series, let’s go.”