UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke to undergo knee procedure

UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke will have a procedure on right knee on Tuesday, said head coach Jim Mora.

The junior was on crutches and had his right knee heavily wrapped. Initially thought to be a bruise, the severity of Orjioke’s injury is still uncertain pending further medical examination. He has eight tackles this season in reserve action, including one for loss.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s just something minor,” Mora said. “Maybe he misses this game and he’s back next week.”

Starting offensive guard Alex Redmond (ankle) is still in a boot after spraining his ankle in the first half of UCLA’s win at Arizona State last Thursday, but Mora didn’t rule him out of playing against Utah this weekend. Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 9/28/14 Answers

Q: Do you feel the defensive issues have more to do with the loss of Lou Spanos, and Jeff Ulbrich being green as a coordinator, or does it have more to do with the loss of Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh, and Jordan Zumwalt? Do you see the defense getting better this year?

If the DBs are so good, why don’t you trust the defense enough to bring more pressure?

A: I think it’s both, which always sounds like a cop-out answer but is more often than not the truest one. If Jeff Ulbrich had an All-American linebacker plus two more NFL draft picks back in this defense, he could probably afford to throw a lot more pressure. But Spanos also excelled at making halftime adjustments in a way that Ulbrich hasn’t quite done yet.

Giving up 626 yards to an Arizona State team running with its backup quarterback wasn’t good. But while yards aren’t completely meaningless, as Jim Mora may argue, that number doesn’t look as bad considering that the Sun Devils needed 105 plays to do so. (Why Arizona State was able to run 105 plays may be a better point of contention, even if the Bruins were merely trying to prevent a big play down the stretch.)

With a third of the regular season done, the defense looks like it’s going to rely on its defensive line to create pressure and stop the run, as well its knack for forcing timely turnovers. It’s probably not going to start throwing blitzes on every other snap — especially since the secondary hasn’t played particularly well and also lost safety Randall Goforth to shoulder surgeries. UCLA has given up 57 pass plays of at least 10 yards, more than anyone in the country except Washington, South Carolina, Cal, Toledo and Bowling Green.

Q: Any idea on when Simon Goines will be ready to play? Any news about Conor McDermott?

I don’t think anyone should be surprised if he ends up redshirting this season. Mora did say before the season that he wants Goines to play, and gave a tentative Week 3 return date then. However, he also picked his words carefully, saying he wanted Goines “ready to go” by then — as if referring to a mental mindset rather than being physical prepared.

Obviously, Week 3 has come and gone, and Goines remains limited in practices.

Conor McDermott played a bit already this season, but the staff is trying not to rush him back given his history of shoulder problems. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley, Ishmael Adams named Pac-12 Players of the Week

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and defensive back Ishmael Adams both earned Pac-12 Player of the Week nods on Monday, marking the second time this season that two Bruins have won on the same day.

Hundley was named the conference’s top offensive player following his big performance in UCLA’s 62-27 win over Arizona State. The redshirt junior threw for 355 yards and four touchdowns on just 23 pass attempts, and finished the game with just five incompletions — none of which came in the second half.

He also rushed for 72 yards and another score, all while wearing a protective brace over his injured left elbow.

“It’s a little concern — not too much,” Hundley said of the brace on Monday. “Obviously, the more I practice with it the more comfortable I feel. Obviously, it adds a bigger piece of weight to your arm. It distributes weight a little different. But at the same time, you practice with it and it’ll be fine.” Continue reading

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Jim Mora defends UCLA’s defense: ‘Yards don’t matter’

UCLA stomped Arizona State 62-27 on Thursday and bounced back into the top 10 of national polls, but its defense gave up 626 yards in the process — a record under third-year head coach Jim Mora.

In case anyone was wondering, Mora doesn’t care about that number.

“I’ve been coaching since I was 22 years old,” he said. “Played defense for four years before that. Yards has never been an issue. I doubt that I’ll change now. Most coaches I know don’t pay much attention to yards, because yards don’t matter. Points are usually what they grade you on.

“It’s the team at the end of the game with the most points that wins, not the team with the most yards. So that’s how I feel about yards.” Continue reading

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UCLA’s Saturday game against Utah to kick off at 7:30 p.m.

Fresh off a decisive win at Arizona State on national television, UCLA will spend another weekend in the spotlight.

After playing three of their first four games away from the Rose Bowl, the Bruins will return home on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Utah on ESPN. UCLA moved up to No. 8 in the Associated Press poll after their 62-27 win over ASU.

The Utes’ promising start to the season was spoiled by Washington State’s 28-27 comeback victory in Salt Lake City. Utah had blown out Idaho State and Fresno State by 74 combined points to start the year, then beat Michigan, 26-10, on the road.

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Notes and quotes: Brett Hundley’s brilliance leads UCLA past ASU

In the second quarter of what would become UCLA’s 62-27 blowout of Arizona State, Brett Hundley showed everyone just how healthy he was.

On second-and-7 near midfield, the Bruins’ star quarterback capped a six-yard scramble with a hurdle, leaping over one linebacker before another came and hit him on his left arm. Hundley knew that this could happen — that by favoring thrill over caution, he could open himself up to defenders who were surely eyeing that heavy brace covering his left elbow.

He also knew he didn’t care.

“I’m playing football,” Hundley said. “I can’t not do what I like doing and how I like playing. … That’s what I wanted to do this game, is not come in and think that I’m limiting myself by not running. I wanted to show that I could still run the ball and still do all the things God has blessed me to do.”

Arizona State bore the brunt of all that Thursday night. This was as masterful a performance that Hundley has ever delivered in UCLA colors — one only highlighted by the fact that it came less than two weeks after an elbow injury that had fans holding their breath.

His final line was absurd: 355 yards and four touchdowns on just 23 pass attempts. He only had five incompletions, and two were dropped by receiver Kenneth Walker. He tacked on 72 rushing yards, punching in a one-yard touchdown for the final score, after the game was well in hand. In the end zone, he looked up at the stands and slapped his left arm.

His two 80-yard passes were a career-high, and marked UCLA’s longest pass completion since Drew Olson’s 91-yarder to Joe Cowan in 2005. He now has seven 300-yard games in his career four behind Cade McNown’s school record of 11.

In another blowout, UCLA might have already trotted out backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, the team’s savior in a 20-17 win against Texas almost two weeks ago. But Hundley wasn’t sitting this one out. Not in front of his hometown crowd, not when he had missed nearly the entire game against the Longhorns, and certainly not against the team that had beaten him a year ago for the Pac-12 South title.

“Brett, I’ve never seen him this hyped (as he was) this whole week,” said receiver Thomas Duarte.

» Someone scratched “UCLA” into Arizona State’s midfield pitchfork logo before kickoff, and the Bruins all but said that one of them was responsible.

Take it away, Brett Hundley and Thomas Duarte:

Mildly reminiscent of another midfield controversy, perhaps?

» UCLA’s offensive line played one of its better games of the season, allowing Hundley to get sacked just once despite losing starting left guard Alex Redmond in the first half. Continue reading

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