UCLA links: Kennedy Polamalu puts his players first

UCLA running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu is close to being promoted to offensive coordinator. (Brad Graverson/Staff)

UCLA offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu (Brad Graverson/Staff)

If you ask UCLA players about offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu, the first thing many will comment on is his energy. His energy makes his players gravitate toward him. It makes them want to play for him. Perform well for him.

In remaking UCLA’s offense this year, Polamalu had a simple priority in mind and it had nothing to do with whether he wanted it to be called pro-style or not. It was just about his players.

“I love these kids,” Polamalu said. “I don’t want to let them down.”

READ MORE FROM MY FEATURE ON POLAMALU

Other links:

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By the numbers countdown to kickoff: 5 days

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs past UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams (1) for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs past UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams (1) for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Countdown the days to UCLA’s season-opener against Texas A&M with key stats facing the Bruins this year.

10 receiving touchdowns by Thomas Duarte last year, which led the team
9 returning starters on defense
8th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense last year
7 second-half turnovers for Josh Rosen last year
6 different starting combinations on the offensive line in 2015

5 STRAIGHT LOSSES TO STANFORD UNDER JIM MORA

For another season, we ask: Is this the year the Bruins vanquish the Cardinal?

Under head coach Jim Mora, UCLA has never beaten Stanford. It’s five straight losses in four years.

The Bruins are so committed to the cause that they’ve shaped themselves to specifically beat Stanford. They pledged to get bigger to stop the run. The focus on power running was geared to help the offense control the clock and help the defense get used to facing such a bruising scheme.

“It’s time to beat Stanford this year, so I’m glad we’re making the changes we’re making,” linebacker Kenny Young said. “It’s going to help us a lot.”

UCLA’s struggles against the Cardinal even predate Mora. The Bruins haven’t beaten Stanford since 2008. The eight-game losing streak is the longest losing streak UCLA has against any one conference opponent at any time. The next such streak was a seven-game slide against USC from 1999-2005. The final two USC wins of that streak were later vacated.

With Kevin Hogan gone, the door is ajar for another team to snatch the top spot in the conference, although the Cardinal were still voted the media favorites to win the league. They do after all still have Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 243 yards against the Bruins last year.

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By the numbers countdown to kickoff: 6 days

Conor McDermott and Josh Rosen celebrate his touchdown late in the fourth quarter in their game against Washington State Saturday. (BILL ALKOFER, OC REGISTER STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Conor McDermott and Josh Rosen celebrate his touchdown late in the fourth quarter in their game against Washington State Saturday. (BILL ALKOFER, OC REGISTER STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Countdown the days to UCLA’s season-opener against Texas A&M with key stats facing the Bruins this year.

10 receiving touchdowns scored by Thomas Duarte last year, which led the team
9 returning starters on defense
8th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense last year
7 second-half turnovers for Josh Rosen last year

6 DIFFERENT STARTING COMBINATIONS ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE IN 2015

The Bruins were hopeful about their depth on the offensive line heading into last season, but by season’s end, things looked dim.

Injuries made for a rotating cast of characters on the offense line and six different starting combinations in 2015.

By the Foster Farms Bowl, the Bruins were so thin on the line that they leaned on a walk-on, Cristian Garcia, and a former defensive lineman, Najee Toran, for support. Garcia got the start at left guard during the bowl game

“We make it work,” offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said. “This is why we have guys who can play multiple positions. Just plug guys in and keep it moving.” Continue reading

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By the numbers countdown to kickoff: 7 days

UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen #3 fumbled the ball and USC Trojans defensive tackle Rasheem Green #94 picked it up and ran it in a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. USC defeated UCLA 40-21 in a cross town rivalry at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. 11/28/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen #3 fumbles while being sacked against USC. USC  defensive tackle Rasheem Green recovered it and in a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. (Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

Countdown the days to UCLA’s season-opener against Texas A&M with key stats facing the Bruins this year.

10 receiving touchdowns scored by Thomas Duarte last year, which led the team
9 returning starters on defense
8th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense last year

7 SECOND-HALF TURNOVERS FOR JOSH ROSEN LAST YEAR

Although quarterback Josh Rosen set a school record for consecutive passes without an interception (245) last year, he said his main goal heading into his sophomore season is taking better care of the football.

He had 13 total turnovers last year (11 interceptions, two fumbles), with seven of them coming in the second half of games. A reminder of when Rosen’s turnovers occurred during each game:

rosen turnovers

In the first seven games of the season, Rosen turned the ball over six times, but only twice in the second half. In the last six games of the season, five of Rosen’s six turnovers occurred in the second half, including three in the fourth quarter of games.

Rosen’s 11 interceptions the most among top nation’s top true freshman quarterbacks last year and the second-most for starting quarterbacks in the Pac-12, trailing only Cal’s Jared Goff, who threw 13. When comparing pass attempts and interception, Washington State’s Luke Falk proved to be the most efficient quarterback in the conference, throwing 80.5 passes to every interception. Rosen threw 44.3 passes to each interception.

Here’s how all the starting quarterbacks in the conference stacked up last year:

passestoints

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UCLA practice links: Almost game week

Linebacker Jayon Brown runs drills at practice in San Bernardino. Photo by Rachel Luna/San Bernardino Sun

Linebacker Jayon Brown runs drills at practice in San Bernardino. Photo by Rachel Luna/San Bernardino Sun

Main story from Friday’s practice: The Bruins might be a little tired, but are looking forward to game week

Notebook about the running back competition, the No. 1 jersey and the loudest stadium Kennedy Polamalu has ever coached in.

Video interviews with Polamalu and DC Tom Bradley.

Personnel notes from practice:

  • From the portion of practice that was open to the media, we only saw Marcus Moore standing on the sideline. Everyone else was going through walk-throughs. I also want to point out the obvious and say that that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else is completely healthy.
  • Bradley said defensive end Takkarist McKinley was limited in practice, although it wasn’t completely due to injury. Bradley said he wanted to give some of the younger players reps and McKinley already knew many of the concepts the team was going over in practice Friday.
  • Bradley added that he expects Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (appendicitis) back on Monday. The defensive lineman was cleared for activity on Wednesday and did some drills on the field Friday, Bradley said.
  • Tight end Austin Roberts (concussion) was at practice.
  • The defense got its chance in the white game jerseys Friday after the offense took its turn Thursday.
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