Weekly Q&A — 10/14/14 Answers

Q: Who is going to play left tackle this week?

A: Probably both Malcolm Bunche and Conor McDermott. The latter seems like UCLA’s best option for shaking up its offensive line, but Jim Mora said on Tuesday that it still may be difficult for McDermott to play a whole game. The staff has been working the 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore back gradually following his shoulder surgery last November — not his first operation — and used him through the first half of the season mostly in jumbo packages. But the fact that he subbed in for Bunche in the fourth quarter against Oregon seems like a sign that a change is coming sooner or later.

Q: Why has UCLA struggled at making in game adjustments this year? In my opinion that was one of the strengths of our coaching staff in previous years (e.g. Nebraska and ASU last year). Also, why do you think defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich continues to refuse to dial up blitzes? While the loses of Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh, and Keenan Graham hurt us, there’s no way that we don’t have enough talent to manufacture more sacks than we have this year.

A: There’s no question that Ulbrich has been outcoached for the last few games. He even sort of admitted that after UCLA’s closer-than-expected win over Memphis, saying afterward that he made the scheme too simple. But despite him arguing that the sacks would tick up soon, nothing has really changed. I think part of that might be Ulbrich being a bit stubborn about a scheme/strategy he believes in. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Jim Mora says UCLA won’t make ‘wholesale changes’

Back-to-back losses against Utah and Oregon have knocked UCLA out of the AP poll for the first time in nearly two years, but head coach Jim Mora said Tuesday that the Bruins don’t need to hit the reset button.

“When you believe in what you’re doing, you don’t make wholesale changes,” Mora said. “I believe in what this program has become. I think anyone that looks at this program — where it was and what it has become, objectively — would say, ‘Why would you make wholesale changes?’

“Now, it doesn’t matter if you win, or you’re losing. You’re always tweaking things. If you panic, you perish. We’re not about to panic. There’s no reason to panic.”

What does he need to tweak? “We tweak everything. … That’s why we meet so long. To tweak things.”

Mora also talked about the Bruins’ heavy use of nickel formations, the health of tackle Conor McDermott and his growing role on the offensive line, and how college kickers compare to pros.

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Eddie Vanderdoes will not be punished by Pac-12 for punch against Oregon

After reviewing a clip of Eddie Vanderdoes’ punch against Oregon last Saturday, the Pac-12 has decided not to hand out additional punishment to UCLA’s sophomore defensive lineman.

Vanderdoes received a personal foul penalty during the second quarter of the Bruins’ 42-30 loss for punching left tackle Jake Fisher. The flag gave the Ducks 15 yards and an automatic first down on what what would have been third-and-3 at the UCLA 47-yard line. Oregon scored a touchdown five plays later on Marcus Mariota’s 21-yard screen pass to Thomas Tyner, taking a 15-3 lead.

“I made a stupid decision,” Vanderdoes said. “I regret it. That’s not me. I’ve never done that before to a player in a game.” Continue reading

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First look: California Golden Bears

UCLA Bruins (4-2, 1-2) at California Golden Bears (4-2, 2-2)
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 18, 12:30 p.m. PT, Memorial Stadium (Berkeley, Calif.)
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (Bob Wischusen, Matt Millen, Quint Kessenich)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Coach: Sonny Dykes first season at Cal was an utter disaster as the Bears won just one game: a 37-30 home decision over Portland State, a FCS team that finished 6-6.

All but one of their 11 losses were decided by a double-digit margin, with the lone exception being a 33-28 loss to Arizona in front of a season-low crowd of 41,874. Take out that game, and the Bears lost 10 by an average of nearly four touchdowns (27.7 points). After Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour stepped down/was forced out this summer, everyone started adding coals beneath Dykes’ tinder seat.

Six games into his second season, his job looks completely safe. Dykes’ “Bear Raid” offense powered a surprising a 4-1 start, and now ranks 10th nationally in scoring (42.8) and 16th in yards per play (6.77). While Cal still sits near the bottom of several defensive categories, there are flashes of hope in Berkeley — even if a 31-7 loss to Washington dulled some of the shine.

Key players:

QB Jared Goff, So., 6-4, 210 — 152/232, 2,179 yards, 22 TD, 3 INT
– Goff isn’t being asked to throw as much as he did as a freshman, but he’s become much more efficient. His 9.4 yards per attempt marks almost a three-yard improvement, and ties Brett Hundley and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace for ninth in the FBS.

WR Bryce Treggs, Jr., 5-11, 185 — 29 catches, 360 yards, 5 TD
– Cal has a lot of talented pass-catchers. Treggs is the only one with multiple 100-yard games this season. He and Goff are the Bears’ only two returning All-Pac-12 honorable mentions from 2013. Continue reading

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Linebacker Cassius Peat commits to UCLA

UCLA has landed another linebacker in its 2015 class, securing a commitment from Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol’s Cassius Peat.

Rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com and a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Peat stands at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and comes from an impressive athletic background. His older brother, Andrus Peat, is a 6-foot-7, 316-pound left tackle at Stanford who made several preseason All-American lists heading into this season — and also projects as an elite NFL prospect.

Their father, Todd Peat, was a six-year NFL offensive lineman who started eight games for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1992.

Scout.com ranks Cassius Peat as the No. 11 outside linebacker in the country, while Rivals.com has him at No. 42. The Bruins also have commitments from three-star outside linebacker Josh Woods and three-star inside linebacker Victor Alexander.

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VIDEO: Receiver Jordan Payton says UCLA is in must-win mode

UCLA receiver Jordan Payton talked on Monday about the team’s mood after losing to Utah and Oregon — the second straight year that the Bruins have lost back-to-back games in the middle of the season.

“We have to get this out of our system,” Payton said. “This one hurts a lot because you put a lot of time and effort into understanding how big that game was. For us to go out there and kind of just play like we did, it’s sad. It’s hard. …

“Now, we have to win. Now, we have to do everything right. Now, our backs are fully against the wall.”

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