FINAL: UCLA 58, Nevada 20

After a slow start against Nevada, UCLA ran away with an impressive 58-20 win to open the season. Most notable was Jordon James’ debut as a starting tailback. The 5-foot-9 tailback had entered the season averaging 3.3 yards per carry; after three quarters, he already had 155 yards on 21 touches.

Stat of the game? UCLA’s 345 total rushing yards. The Bruins’ best mark in 2012 was 344, in a 36-30 win over Nebraska.

Some questions still exist with a defense that bent early, but the ground game looked like a strong complement for Brett Hundley’s superlative quarterback play.

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What to watch: No. 21 UCLA vs. Nevada

Finally, the season is upon us. Ranked in preseason polls for the first time since 2007, No. 21 UCLA will host Nevada at the Rose Bowl Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks and AM 1150 (moved from AM 750 due to the Dodgers game).

Here’s how the two teams match up.

UCLA offense vs. Nevada defense

Nevada’s defense was bad enough last year (97th in the country) that defensive coordinator Mike Bradeson was demoted to safeties coach. Replacing him is former USC linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton, who has installed a Tampa 2 defense — a scheme that relies on its four-man front to create pressure, and its linebackers and cornerbacks to tackle soundly. Continue reading

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Inexperienced UCLA secondary eager to start season

He’s eager to watch them play.

No matter that the group returns only five games’ worth of combined starting experience, or the idea that most regard the unit as the team’s weakest link. Jim Mora is ready to see his UCLA secondary take on Nevada Saturday night — even if, he joked, he has to peek through his fingers.

“I want them to just be able to play free and not worry,” said the Bruins’ head coach. “Be able to cut it loose and let their skills take over. I think they’ve worked hard enough on the mental part that they know what’s going on, they know the adjustments.

“I don’t want to see them play hesitant.”

After weeks of hitting their own teammates — first in San Bernardino, then back at home in Westwood — the Bruins are itching to finally get on the field against some different uniforms. That may go double for the defensive backfield. Continue reading

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Jordan Zumwalt has history with Nevada QB Cody Fajardo


Saturday will mark the first time the UCLA and Nevada football teams have ever met.

Their players aren’t as unfamiliar with each other.

Four years ago, Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo led Anaheim’s Servite High to the CIF-SS Pac-5 finals. On the other side was UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, then a star for Edison High — located 15 miles south in Huntington Beach. Continue reading

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At a glance: No. 21 UCLA vs. Nevada

No. 21 UCLA (0-0) vs. Nevada (0-0)
Location: Rose Bowl, 7 p.m. PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth, Jill Savage)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: This is the first-ever meeting between UCLA and Nevada.
2012 records: Bruins (9-5, 6-3 Pac-12); Wolf Pack (7-6, 4-4 MWC)

Key storylines: Nevada enters life post-Chris Ault, the legendary coach who pioneered the pistol offense. Returning starters and staff members — including offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich — will help maintain continuity, but new head coach Brian Polian must prove that he’s capable of being more than just an assistant. Continue reading

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Jim Mora says to give his UCLA depth chart ‘zero credence’

When he wants to be, Jim Mora is as good an interview subject as any head football coach in the country: candid, witty, opinionated. There’s a reason that his transition from the NFL to college was bridged by a stint in the broadcast studio.

Then there’s the self-admitted “paranoid” side, the part that makes him loath to do anything that he doesn’t deem necessary. Take the tentative depth chart he released Monday night, one that goes four or five players deep at certain positions.

“Here’s how much credence I would put in the depth chart,” Mora said Tuesday afternoon, squeezing his right thumb against his index finger. “None.” Continue reading

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Linebacker Anthony Barr: ‘You can’t keep me off the field’


Linebacker Anthony Barr returned to practice this week from an undisclosed head injury, saying Tuesday that he’s felt 100 percent for “some time now.”

Although he did not disclose the exact nature of his injury beyond being “dinged up,” it’s something he thinks football players probably go through often — even if it goes unspoken. “Players don’t like to talk about that stuff,” Barr said.

After sustaining the injury last week, the All-American linebacker vomited on the sideline before being led out of the facility. Still, he said he never doubted that his status for Saturday’s season opener against Nevada: “You’re not gonna keep me off the field.”

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Pac-12 links: Quarterback battles and recruiting hostesses

» Mike Riley finally named junior Sean Mannion his starting quarterback over senior Cody Vaz. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Mannion won’t need to look over his shoulder.

» Oregon announced its two-deep yesterday. Starting at defensive end is Tony Washington, whose father died of a heart attack exactly four years ago. He was 48.

» An upcoming book on college football called “The System” alleges that Lane Kiffin paid hostesses to help close the deal with recruits — the subject of an NCAA investigation in 2009. Reporters Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict got Lacey Pearl Earps, the most infamous of the hostesses, to speak on record for the first time. It’s far from the best tidbit in what Y! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel called “the best book on the sport written in years.” Continue reading

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