WATCH: Atonio Mafi Talks UCLA Facing Oregon, Communication on Road

One of the highest-rated interior linemen in the Pac-12 shared his thoughts on the Bruins’ upcoming road trip to Eugene.

UCLA football offensive guard Atonio Mafi spoke with reporters following Tuesday morning’s practice session at Wasserman Football Center. Mafi talked about how the offensive line plans to communicate amid the noise at Autzen Stadium, what he knows about Oregon’s defensive front, how his unit has been progressively meshing over the course of the season, playing a third-straight game against a ranked opponent, planning his schoolwork around road trips and coach Chip Kelly’s history in Eugene.

Silent count and other ways to deal with crowd noise?

Oh, we just got to focus on communicating. We’ve got some things in the work. We’ve been practicing with the speakers out playing loud noises like crowd noises or music, and you’re trying to simulate just being focused on the game.

Any impact on communication if it’s run or pass?

No, it’s the same, just making sure that we’re on the same page. Just got to make sure like Raiqwon hears me or the center hears me, or we all hear Duke whenever he’s making calls. That’s all that matter. 

How do you guys make sure that you hear each other?

Always just like visual confirmation. And just seeing if, you know, like, once the plays done, like, obviously, you’d be like speak louder if you didn’t get the call or if you didn’t execute.

Visual communication?

Oh, just like eye contact, you know. Like if you’re looking at me and I’m saying something to you, I’m assuming you can hear me.

Rain in forecast?

We’ll be ready if it rains. Right now, no worries.

Oregon defensive front?

You know, they’re good. They’re a good front seven. Obviously, their backers are pretty good as well. You know, we played against 55, he was at UW last year I believe. And No. 2 is another guy we played against last year, so they have a solid group, and we’re excited to go up against them.

O-line coming together over past few games?

Definitely coach Drev. You know, one thing he tells us every day is don’t forget where you came from. So, you know, just everyday trying to come out and get better. And like the season and every game, it just shows us like we’re excited that we get another shot to play even better than we did the week before. So coach Drev definitely has a big part of, you know, never letting up on us ad just making sure that we’re all gassed the whole time.

Are the substitution rotations pretty much the same every game or do they vary?

It all depends on just feel. Coach Drev’s feel, coach Kelly, it’s their call.

Third straight big game vs. ranked team?

Most definitely, it’s fun. You know, the last time I was at Oregon, I can’t remember. But all I know is we started off 0-5 my freshman year, and now we’re 6-0, so definitely, like I took the time to, you know, realize how far we’ve come as not just my class but the program in general. But obviously, you know, we’re on to the next. You know, the main focus is to go 7-0.

What does the culture of UCLA football means to you?

You know, just you’re getting a world class education here. We’re No. 1 school and public university in the nation. You know, obviously, now we’re playing an elite level football. So putting those two together, like what else could you ask for in an institution.

Managing school during a road game?

All the coaches are making sure we’re going to class and stuff, class tracking and whatnot, getting on us. And we have like great mentors and academic counselors. Shout out to all those people in the Morgan. You know, they just stay on top and help work on quarter calendars, planning our syllabuses and seeing what days like major assignments are due and making sure they shoot you reminders, you know. Like especially if it’s like this week when we’re traveling away, like they already have the game plan. Some of them are traveling up with us too, so they do a great job of helping us.

Kelly ever been the one to check in on you making sure you get to class?

No, thankfully.

Win at Oregon for Kelly?

Yeah, I mean, of course. Like you grow up and you always knew like Chip Kelly and when Oregon was popular, like he was over there, obviously. But now we want to get the win just ‘cause coach Kelly is our coach, not because of what you had over there at Oregon, but because that’s our head coach and we want to play for him and get the W for him.

Feel pressure to keep up with opposing offense when they’re quality unit?

I mean, for us on the offense, we understand that nobody’s gonna stop us unless we stop ourselves. So we have full faith in our defense to go out there and make the stops we need, but we’re definitely focused on us, on scoring every drive. And once we get that rhythm, there’s pretty much like we just want to get back on the field for another drive.

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