After dropping back-to-back games to Stanford and Oregon, UCLA is looking to get back in the win column when it hosts Colorado this weekend. Sophomore cornerback Ishmael Adams took a few minutes this week to chat with the Pac-12 blog about how the Bruins can bounce back, the play of the secondary and what he sees in next week’s Stanford-Oregon showdown.
What’s the feeling around the team after these last couple of weeks?
Ishmael Adams: We just have to challenge each other more. Compete harder in practice and the rest will come to us in the game. We can only make our team as good as our team wants to be, and competing with each other on both sides of the ball, we need to take it to another level in practice.
Are the guys pretty down? Have they bounced back? What’s the mood in the locker room right now?
IA: Nah. We can never be down about the past. We have to keep moving forward. We have a lot of games left. We have time to keep working and competing and getting to where we want to be.
What was the team’s reaction to Jim Mora’s comments after the Oregon game about “close" not being good enough and you guys not being satisfied?
IA: He was telling the truth. We can’t be satisfied with being close and not meeting our goals. We can’t be satisfied with taking losses. We have to rise to the occasion. We can’t be down about it. We have to keep on working.
Aside from the mental aspects, is there anything different you guys need to do schematically to get back on track?
IA: That’s for the coaches to decide. Our job is to get out there and play. We don’t chose the plays or where we line up. We trust the coaches to put us in a good position and it’s up to us to go out there and execute it.
You guys have been through so much this year emotionally. How have you seen this team come together from where you were in August to where you are now?
IA: Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. We’ve got great leaders through Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks and Brett Hundley. They’ve led by example and showed what it means to be a leader. We need to keep following their lead and keep on working.
There were a lot of questions about the secondary coming into the season, specifically youth and not a lot of game experience. Do you feel like you guys have met the challenge?
IA: I feel like we’ve risen to the challenge, but we have a long way to go. We have a great group of receivers coming up in the next few weeks. We’re looking forward to this next challenge with [Paul] Richardson and his supporting cast, and then we’ll move on to the next one. We’re taking it one week at a time and trying to be more consistent.
You mentioned Richardson, what else do you see from Colorado on film?
IA: Not only him, he’s got a great supporting cast, and they all play their roles really well. [D.D. Goodson] is a nice, shifty receiver who can get in and out of his breaks and put guys behind him. [Nelson Spruce] is a good possession receiver. He can get guys off of him and get the ball and get upfield. They have as good a group of receivers as any other team, so we’re looking forward to competing with them.
How tough was last year for you? You played in the first couple of games and then sat out the rest of the year with an injury. Was it frustrating to get that little taste of college football and then have to sit?
IA: Yeah, it was pretty frustrating. I really wanted to come out my freshman year and play to my ability. But it wasn’t meant to be. But it allowed me to sit back and get the gist of what it takes to play in college football and be elite in college football.
Next week most college football fans are going to be tuning in to Stanford and Oregon. You’ve played both of those teams the last two weeks. Give us your opinion of how you think things will play out?
IA: It’s definitely going to be a great game because of how Stanford slows the game down and Oregon tries to speed it up. They both have great defenses. Stanford will try to get it going with the running game. They did a really good job, after losing to Utah, getting back to Stanford football, slowing the game down and running hard. [Marcus] Mariota is always going to do a good job not making mistakes. It’s going to be up to the Stanford defense to be where they need to be.
IA: Nah, I’m going to be a student. I’m going to watch it and try to take some of the things I see to get better.