Throughout the week, I’ll be bringing you some of the opening words from the new UCLA assistant coaches. A very energetic group, with a common purpose. We’ll start with new UCLA wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, who came to the Bruins from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
JG: UCLA receivers have seemed to have a case of mistaken identity year in, year out. There has been a lot of griping about “roles.” How do you address that?
“I look at them and I just want them they to be the best THEY can be. If the best they can be is a 40 or 50 catch receiver, so be it. But I want them the best they can be. If they give me everything they can, and they’re doing everything I tell them to do, very coachable, I know I can take them off their mark. Find the buttons to push, what not to push. How he responds to certain kinds of coaching. I’m not going in with expectations. I have an open mind to try to find some guys to help us win some games. Who are going to be the warriors?”
JG: Shifting from the Pistol to Noel Mazzone’s spread, what kind of technique has to change? Is it good to inherit such a young class to be able to break their bad habits?
EY: “I wouldn’t call them bad habits – different offenses have different skill sets, but what I see in them in this offense is we need guys who are great athletes who can beat people in space and one on one. Seeing those guys in high school a couple years ago, all those guys had those skill sets. Jerry Johnson, he was a great deep threat, a great outside guy who could get to the ball, who could run by guys. I saw Devin and Shaq when they were young with a unique skill sets – guys you could get the ball to in space. That translates in this offense. That’s the philosophy and the basis of this offense. If we do that, we’ve done our job.”
JG: Just hearing every coach talk about the staff, there seems to be real excitement; how much of that had to do with the attitude you guys have had with recruiting, etc.?
EY: “It starts with the head man. He presented the united front. As soon as I got here in the meetings, he said we’re going to attack this thing. Let’s not give up this class, let’s go make it a top-20 class. We can do this with the guys we have in this room. Even though he hadn’t recruited at the college level, he was dazzling in the homes. I called him the closer. We got him in homes and he closed the deal. He lets all of us do what were supposed to do, use our contacts, get into homes. But he closed it man. If the head man is attacking it, his assistants will follow.”
JG: How can the approach you took to recruiting translate to on the field?
EY: We’re going to attack that just like we did with recruiting. That goes to the head man, too. Coach Mora with the 49ers, he was very enthusiastic. Lots of energy. When you put together a staff with a lot of energy and passion, we’re going to do the same thing. Enthusiasm is contagious. We’re going to practice with great effort, passion, enthusiasm. We love this game. We recruited kids who love the game.”