Of the many poor performances UCLA has had this season, the most glaring have come against the Big West. First was the one-point overtime win over UC Irvine, one soon followed by the Cal Poly upset. The Anteaters and the Mustangs were picked to finish third and seven in the conference, respectively.
Tuesday night at 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks), the Bruins will face a Big West team predicted to win its third straight regular-season title. Here’s a look at the 49ers …
Shooting woes: Last year’s Long Beach State squad was the school’s best in years, one that made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 and was thought of as Sweet Sixteen dark horse. But four starters are gone Continue reading →
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Jim Mora also said that he is hopeful the team won’t run into any academic ineligibility issues as grades come back. Linebacker Anthony Barr said he was “very close to making a decision,” but wanted to let things work themselves out. He did say he was leaning towards staying, and is still waiting for his NFL evaluation before making a final choice.
The most encouraging part of UCLA’s runaway win over Prairie View was Shabazz Muhammad’s best performance of the season.
No, the competition wasn’t top-notch, even if head coach Ben Howland tried to talk up how worried he was about this game. But by both the eye test and the box score, Muhammad looked like a different player than he has most of the season. His 25 points and four assists were both career highs, the latter doubling his season total. (Stunning that Shabazz only had four assists on the season before Saturday. His ability to create was one of his weaknesses coming out of high school, but four?)
“I’m starting to get a lot more confident. … I’m feeling real comfortable with my game,” he said.
On defense, the Bruins man defense worked OK as UCLA allowed just 29.4 percent Continue reading →
Q: How is Lacy Westbrook doing in his recovery from brain surgery?
A: Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said Westbrook is doing fine and enrolled at UCLA not too long after the operation for his aneurysm. There haven’t been any setbacks in terms of his recovery and the staff will see how the former four-star recruit does in spring.
Q: Hearing anything regarding the football coordinators? Anyone being discussed about bolting for another program?
A: Noel Mazzone is still the hottest name on the staff, and he’s certainly no stranger to switching jobs. However, he’s said he is happy at UCLA, and the opportunity to coach a likely future Heisman contender in Brett Hundley isn’t something found everywhere. The most hotly rumored spot Continue reading →
Johnathan Franklin made the FWAA All-American list today, the last of the NCAA-recognized teams to be announced. Of those five teams (AP, AFCA, Walter Camp, Sporting News are the others), this is Franklin’s first appearance on a first team. He missed out on AFCA and Sporting News lists, and made the AP and Walter Camp second teams.
USC’s Marqise Lee was the only Pac-12 player to make all five first teams. Tellingly, no running backs in the country achieved unanimous All-American status, with Franklin, Kenjon Barner (Oregon), Montee Ball (Wisconsin) and Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona) all swapping in and out of the top spots.
UCLA announced yesterday that it had sold its entire 11,000-ticket allotment for the Holiday Bowl, most of which went to season-ticket holders and Wooden Athletic Fund donors. Around 1,000 were assigned for students and their guests, and the first 650 had been discounted from $65 to $25 thanks to anonymous donors.
The athletic department said today it was the first time they’ve sold out a bowl allotment since 2006, when the Bruins went to the Emerald Bowl after beating USC, 13-9. That year, UCLA also requested an additional 1,000 tickets from Florida State’s allotment and sold those as well. The Seminoles won 44-27, but the victory was later vacated due to NCAA violations.
Holiday Bowl tickets are still available at Ticketmaster and Stubhub (lowest going for $59.99).
UPDATE: Practice time moved up to 9 a.m. Still open to the public.
Like last week, UCLA’s practice is open to the public starting at 11 a.m. 9. a.m. Saturday. It’s supposed to be another “generic” practice, which means no game-specific prep for Baylor. (Players haven’t been instructed to watch film yet, but a few have taken liberties to do so on their own.) Spaulding Field is immediately south of Pauley Pavilion, and Parking Lot 8 is south of that (access from Westwood Blvd).
Per the Press-Register, national officiating Rogers Redding said today that Pac-12 officials will call the national title game. Conferences aren’t allowed to officiate bowls that involve their teams, and the BCS bowl rotation gave the Pac-12 those duties this year. (Notre Dame might not be in the title game had it not been for Pac-12 officials, but oh well.)
Five of the eight most penalized teams in the country come from the Pac-12: UCLA, Washington, Cal, Oregon and USC. Alabama — sixth-best in the country at 3.85 flags per game — is averaging less than half the penalties of any of those five teams. We’ll see if that ticks up on Jan. 7.
Conference USA will officiate the Holiday Bowl, as well as the Vegas Bowl. Teams from that conference averaged 5.53 penalties per game this season. Pac-12 squads averaged 7.24.
1st: RB Johnathan Franklin, OL Xavier Su’a-Filo
2nd: OL Jeff Baca
3rd: WR Shaquelle Evans DEFENSE
1st: LB Anthony Barr
2nd: DT Datone Jones, LB Eric Kendricks SPECIAL TEAMS
1st: P Jeff Locke
3rd: KR Damien Thigpen, PR Steven Manfro (Huh?!)
The most glaring omission is senior Fauria, who was left off despite being one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award — given to the top tight end in the nation. I get that Fauria isn’t a true blocking tight end anymore, but he was tied for second in the conference with 11 touchdown receptions. Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, who got the third team nod, grabbed just five and only had 11 more yards per game (54.9 to 43.2).
On the bright side for UCLA fans, Franklin made first team with Kenjon Barner, beating out Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey. This could bode well for Franklin’s chances at the last remaining NCAA-recognized All-American list: the Football Writers Association of America releases its team later this week, and Steele is on the committee.