UCLA 28, Virginia 20: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone on Bruins’ win

UCLA’s offense looked awful in a season-opening 28-20 win at Virginia, scoring just once on quarterback Brett Hundley’s six-year rushing touchdown. Still, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone stayed positive.

“My glass is always half full,” he said. “In all my years, a lot of times, these kinds of games pay off a lot more in dividends in the course of the season than, you go and score 52 against some team, come back and don’t really realize who you are.”

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UCLA defense scores three TDs in 28-20 win over Virginia

Charlottesville, Va. >> UCLA’s offense needed 43 minutes to score its first touchdown of the season.

Well, 43 minutes and 58 seconds, to be exact. In the third quarter of the No. 7 Bruins’ 28-20 win at Virginia, quarterback Brett Hundley took the handoff from six yards out, ran into a defender after three or four steps, and carried him the rest of the way. It was marvelous play, the type befitting someone who had graced two Sports Illustrated covers in three weeks this summer.

What didn’t fit the picture was … just about everything else. A team picked to make the inaugural College Football Playoff shouldn’t muster just 26 offensive yards in the second quarter. It shouldn’t have a offensive line that looked like Swiss cheese, even if the group isn’t at full health.

It shouldn’t need its defense to set historical milestones — not in the season opener against a 21-point underdog. Continue reading

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What to watch: No. 7 UCLA at Virginia

By at least one measure, UCLA has the toughest schedule in college football. Saturday’s 9 a.m. season opener against Virginia isn’t responsible for much of that weight.

Coming off a 2-10 season that ranks as the program’s worst in 15 years, the Cavaliers are 21-point underdogs against a team that more and more national pundits are starting to pick as the national champion. Do they have a chance to keep up?

UCLA offense vs. Virginia defense:

If Virginia has any hope of pulling the upset, it must look to its defense — now entering its second season under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta and his blitz-heavy scheme. Nine starters return, including All-American safety Anthony Harris, who led the country last year with eight interceptions.

“He has extreme ball skills,” said UCLA receiver Jordan Payton. “He plays physical. He plays in coverage. … Now, you’re looking at a guy who almost plays like a receiver at safety. You definitely have to play the ball more and be a little more aggressive coming back to the ball.” Continue reading

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What goes into filming Pac-12 Networks’ ‘The Drive’?

The second season of “The Drive” premiered on Pac-12 Networks Wednesday night, focusing on UCLA’s training camp at Cal State San Bernardino earlier this month.

For the most part, the 26-minute episode was spent setting the scene for the Bruins’ season: Players get settle into their dorms, and hit the field while mic-ed up coaches bark instructions. Head coach Jim Mora gave a few inspirational speeches, and all was well.

One interesting scene was when cameras followed Mora on one of his runs in the San Bernardino hills. You could hear Mora trying to catch his breath as he waxed on about his coaching philosophy — making for an up-close slice of his daily routine. The Pac-12 Networks crew had noticed Mora jetting toward the trail after practices. When they asked about it, he told them, “You can shoot it, but I don’t think you can keep up.”

To make sure they didn’t fall behind the obsessively in-shape 52-year-old, “The Drive” needed three cameras: one at the bottom of the hills, one mid-way up the trail, and a GoPro strapped to show narrator Yogi Roth. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Linebacker Eric Kendricks scouts Virginia offense

Despite finishing last season as the nation’s No. 110 scoring offense, Virginia can at least take solace in its running back corps. Senior Kevin Parks returns as the program’s eighth-leading all-time rusher, and he has a pair of capable backups in Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd.

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks said the trio looks “shifty,” but stressed that he’ll be watching for hard, downhill runs.

“They’re going to take it to the perimeter a little bit,” Kendricks said. “They’ll have some lead guys pulling for them and stuff like that, but for the main part they’re going to get upfield.”

The senior co-captain also talked about Virginia’s quarterbacks, and what he looks for in opposing offensive lines.

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