Officially, Mike Tuiasosopo is in charge of coaching UCLA’s outside linebackers and special teams. Practically speaking, the latter role is more muddled.
Back in April, head coach Jim Mora said that his newest assistant coach was “still feeling his way through special teams.” Under former linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, the Bruins became one of the best kick and punt return coverage units in college football. Tuiasosopo doesn’t have that type of resume.
According to Tuiasosopo himself, special teams is still coached by committee. (In training camp, new running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu has been the most vocal assistant during kick and punt returns.) He credited the work Mora and Ulbrich — now UCLA’s defensive coordinator — had done to establish a strong foundation.
“Unbelievable standard they’ve had here, so I’ve got a tall task in following the work,” Tuiasosopo said. “The standard has been set. There’s not much in the way of wholesale changes or anything like that. They’ve been very impressive on special teams.”
Tuiasosopo also pointed out the experience that the Bruins had on special teams, where veterans such as linebacker Ryan Hofmeister, fullback Taylor Lagace and running back Steve Manfro have helped the 50-year-old learn on the job.
“I’ve never been at a place where we’ve had so many quality guys that give us great effort and know what they’re doing on special teams,” he said. “But then again, that’s the culture and the standard that has been set and built here and I’m very fortunate to pick up where Coach Ulbrich left off. …
“It’s a great challenge for me personally as a coach, and I’m up to the task.”