Today’s notebook focuses again on UCLA’s trio of freshman linemen, whom offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone gave a B-/C+ grade.
— As he’s done all weeek, UCLA head coach Jim Mora continued lauding the virtues of El Paso and the Sun Bowl.
“What I’ve really enjoyed about the Sun Bowl is the events,” he said. “I’ll tell you why: a lot of bowl games — not that I’ve been to a lot — is you go to events and you kind of separate. They’ve done a great job at the Sun Bowl of creating events where you come together. Our team has gotten to spend a whole lot of time together.”
The Bruins have visited a children’s hospital and Fort Bliss, as well as picked out handmade boots from Lucchese.
(Side note: The media hospitality here has been incredible. Endless food, and just the nicest people.)
— Mora started bowl game prep earlier this year in an attempt to avoid last year’s season-ending faceplant against Baylor, effectively stuffing game week schedules both before a Christmas break (in Westwood) and afterward (in El Paso).
Asked if that has resulted in any staleness, he said no: “I thought about that, but it’s a different setting. I haven’t seen any indications of that. I think it’s been pretty good. We came here, and we started the week over again.”
Center Jake Brendel said he enjoyed having three days off from practice leading up to and including Christmas, equating it to a mental break from football.
— Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster compared Brett Hundley to a “bigger” Donovan McNabb, but their official measurements don’t differ all that much: Hundley is listed at 6-foot-3, 222 pounds; when McNabb starred at Syracuse in the late 1990s, he was 6-foot-2, 223.
— On Tuesday, the Hokies will use a reserve kicker that has yet to attempt either an extra point or a field goal in his career.