BOWENS OUT FOR THE YEAR

UCLA football coach Jim L. Mora Mora immediately knew linebacker Isaiah Bowens suffered a serious injury to his right knee earlier this week, so much so that he didn’t even want to watch the replay of the helmet crashing into it.

“I couldn’t even watch the video,” Mora admitted.

And with good reason.

Turns out Bowens suffered a season-ending ACL injury to the knee that will require surgery and a long rehabilitation.

“It’s a bad deal,” Mora said Saturday. “That’s a big loss for us and you just feel for the kid. He was making progress and working hard and it’s tough that had to happen.

“It’s part of the game, but it’s a part you don’t like.”

QB UPDATE

With three practices left, including the scrimmage, Mora and his staff continues to monitor the quarterback battle headlined by Richard Brehaut, Kevin Prince and Brett Hundley.

And while progress is being made by all the candidates, Mora is in no rush to indicate a winner or even indicate who may be nudging ahead of whom.

“Not that I’m willing to talk about,” Mora said. “Not yet.”

As far as a timetable on making a decision, Mora is not ready yet share any sort of contingency plan.

“I’ll announce it when it’s appropriate to announce it, when it becomes apparent,” Mora said.

INJURY SCARE

Running back Malcolm Jones suffered a ding to his head during Saturday’s scrimmage session but seemed fine afterward.

“You never want to minimize those thinks but I think he’ll be fine,” Mora said.

Meanwhile, linebacker Eric Kendricks was held out of the scrimmage with a sore shoulder and Tevin McDonald was limited due to a hip pointer.

McDonald, incidentally, has caught the attention of Mora.

“That guy, I’ve been around a lot of safeties in my life – including his dad – and this kid is an outstanding football player. Man is he good.”

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UCLA FOOTBALL NOTES

Hey Bruins fans this is Vinny Bonsignore I was out at UCLA practice today. Lot of good things going on out here, you can definitely sense a new level of excitement and a new level of focus under the new staff.

Crazy to think some of these kids are learning their fourth new offense and defense, but that is the reality this spring.

It’s probably a good thing most of these guys are used to the process of absorbing new systems, but you have to think they are ready to just settle in on a definite plan on both sides of the ball rather than continually changing things.

Nothing new on the quarterback battle, with Coach Jim L. Mora basically saying everyone is advancing, everyone is improving and everyone is beginning to settle in. And that includes T.J. Fafaul, T.J. Millweard and Jerry Neuheisel, the three newcomers who seem to be keeping pace thus far.

That said, it’s pretty obvious Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley are the primary players in this battle.

Brehaut told me today he loves the new offense being installed, which for him is actually an old offense as he ran it in high school. He says it is an offense that best suits his skill set and he is excited to be going back to a system he is comfortable with.

Also, Mora had some really good things to say about freshman cornerback Marcus Rios, who had a great practice today.

Here are some notes from today:

No doubt the Bruins are making wholesale changes going from Rick Neuheisel to Mora Jr. And if you count back a few years they are essentially installing their fourth new offense and defense over the last five seasons.

“You get used to it, just learning on the fly,” Brehaut said.

Now imagine being Mora Jr., who has essentially only known the NFL during his 20-plus-year career and professional football’s 24/7 devotion to the game.

It’s a whole new ballgame in college, where rules and school commitments limit the time he can spend with his players and slow down the pace in which he can install his offenses and defense.

It’s an adjustment Mora is working through.

“There’s a learning curve in this whole thing for me as well kids,” Mora admits. “The level I came from, there was no school no study table no tutoring.”

Here, with the understanding that school comes first Mora understand less is sometimes more when it comes to the volume of information he throws at his players.

And five practices into his first spring he is trying to pace himself.

“You have to measure yourself and be judicious in what you install and when you install it,” Mora said. “As coaches we all kind of want to be the next guru, the smartest guy to come up with the latest and greatest. But sometimes you do your players a real disservice if you do that. You’ve got to pace it.”

MAKING STRIDES

By all rights true freshman cornerback Marcus Rios should be in high school preparing for graduation.

Instead, as an early enrollee his is going through his first spring as a Division-1 college player.

But five practices in, he is already making a move.

“I thought today was by far his best day,” Mora said. “He flashed, he made some plays….today he made a breakthrough and I hope he feels good about it because he deserves it.”

And it’s a far cry from where Rios was just a few days ago when Mora described his as a deer in the headlights,

“But if you can imagine he should be preparing for his senior prom,” Mora said. “And I think the last two or three days he’s made an adjustment.”

INJURY UPDATE
Darius bell (WR/quad) Cassius Marsh (DE/ slight ankle) Johnathan Franklin (RB/bruised knee) and Jerry Rice (WR/collarbone) were all held out of practice.

@DailyNewsVinny
vincent.bonsignore@dailynews.com

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UCLA coaching update

Any work being done on the UCLA coaching search is either on the extreme down low or just on hold right now.

Former NFL coach Jim Mora Jr. remains a prime target, according to a source, and while he has been in contact with UCLA officials, not much was happening as of late Thursday.

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero was back in town Thursday after spending the last few days in New York, but if he’s making progress on finding a new football coach he’s keeping things low key.

SMU coach June Jones, who seemed to be in line for the Arizona State job before the Sun Devils abruptly called off talks, could be a fallback option at UCLA. However, a source indicated Thursday he was unaware if Guerrero had reached out to Jones.

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JONES STILL IN PLAY

Looks like SMU coach June Jones is either staying put or considering options that no longer include Arizona State,

Our friend Doug Haller at the Tucson Citizen filed a report earlier about Arizona State ending talks with Jones late Wenesday.

Interestingly, the same situation happened Friday when Arizona State called off talks with Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, which led to UCLA moving in on Sumlin as its top choice only to have talks with Sumlin go nowhere.

I have heard Jones’ name linked to UCLA over the last few weeks, and if trhe Bruins are looking for someone to shake things up he is certainly someone capable of doing just that.

I’ll poke around and see if Jones becomes a viable target and get back to you.

Also, I am scheduled to speak to a very, very high-up source either later tonight or tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll have something to report pretty soon on where the search might be,

Until then, here is the report on Jones from Arizona:

ASU broke off talks with Southern Methodist University coach June Jones late Wednesday afternoon, a final unexpected turn in a dizzying day of false reports from national and local media outlets saying the deal was done.

Where ASU’s search goes from here isn’t clear, but Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt, former head coach at South Florida, could be possibilities. It’s unknown if Houston coach Kevin Sumlin — high on ASU’s list of candidates from the start — remains in the picture.

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MORA DEFINITELY IN THE MIX

Hey guys this is Vinny Bonsignore. I’ve been poking around UCLA today and a couple of things on the football coaching search.

First of all, at the risk of summoning my inner Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the whole Jim Tressel being seen on campus thing is totally bogus.

At least according to my guy on the inside, who has been on campus all day every day for while now and didn’t see him.

And he promises me he would have seen Tressel, had the former Ohio State coach been there.

That said, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero and former NFL coach Jim Mora Jr. have definitely talked within the last few days,

Guerrero has been in New York the last few days but he is expected back in Los Angeles Thursday and he’s expected to sit down and weigh all his options at that point.

Now, before some of you guys jump off the deep end on Mora Jr., think of it this way:

Who was the last former NFL coach and defensive coordinator who was fourth or fifth on a coaching list search then got hired much to the chagrin of the fan base but ended up being one of the greatest coaches in college history??

Yeah, I think we all know who that was.

Maybe Mora Jr. fits that same bill.

Give him a chance, is all I am saying.

Anyway, Mora, 50, was 26-22 as coach of the NFL Atlanta Falcons before going
5-11 as coach of the Seahawks in the 2009 season. His also has
college coaching experience as a graduate assistant at Washington in
the 1984 season.

He is also the son of longtime NFL coach Jim Mora.

So there you go, guys,

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BRUINS SEEK CONSISTENCY

What up Bruins fans, this is Vinny Bonsignore. I’m filling in for Jon today and we just got finished with Coach Neuheisel, who made it very, very clear the Bruins can no longer accept anything less than the type of effort they delivered against Cal Saturday. Here is a short recap:

One of the stats that rankles UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel more than others is the Bruins 0-3 record this year following wins.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out in order for the Bruins to get on roll, they have to string wins together, but that will never happen if they can’t take the effort, resolve and focus from a winning performance into the following week.

That is the objective this week when UCLA hosts Arizona State at the Rose Bowl Saturday after beating Cal 31-14 Saturday.

“It’s going to take a week of focus and resolve,” Neuheisel said at his weekly media conference Monday. “That’s what it took last week.”

The trick, of course, is maintaining that same mindset.

“We can’t go back,” Neuheisel said.

He’s counting on the Bruins now understanding the level they can elevate their game to and classifying anything less as unacceptable.

Granted, UCLA beat Cal after a bitter, embarrassing loss the previous week at Arizona in front of a national television audience. There was no shortage of anger and motivation to rebound against Cal, and the Bruins played as such.

But to deviate from that would be extremely upsetting, according to Neuheisel.

“It’s exactly what I said to the team, there’s good news and better news,” Neuheisel said. “The good news is we responded. The better news is we now know what we are capable of. And to accept anything less than that would be absolutely ridiculous on every one of our parts. Coach and player alike have to bring it like we did last week.”

(by the way, Nelson Rosario and Dietrich Riley both expect to be goes for Saturday’s game.

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CONVERSATION WITH KEVIN PRINCE

What up UCLA fans, this is Vincent Bonsignore, I’m covering for Jon Gold today,

I just finished up with Kevin Prince, talking about the importance of staying healthy now that Richard Brehaut is out for three weeks,

Obviously Prince never wants to get hurt, but now more than ever the Bruins need him on the field, and he seems to get it.

The trick is finding the proper balance between playing smart and still playing hard. Playing confident, not scared.

Based on our conversation, I think he appreciates that line, especially after going through so many injuries over his career.

FYI, the Bruins are off until Sunday – well, the players are, anyway. The coaches are hitting the recruiting trail in what could be a very big weekend for them to make some head way with kids.

Anyway, here my talk with Prince:

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAYING HARD, BUT ALSO STAYING HEALTHY

It doesn’t really change my mindset toward the game but it definitely makes me more mindful of getting out of bounds and things like that,” Prince said “But I’m not going to not hold the ball on reads, and I’m still going to run the ball and play the way I like to play.

Obviously it’s a little more important now because we don’t have an experienced quarterback backing me up, like we had with Richard.

I’ll just try to be smart and get out of bounds when I can and slide when I can and protect myself.

ON THE LESSONS HE’S LEARNED ABOUT TRYING TO AVOID INJURY

I learned pretty quickly you can’t withstand much abuse on the college level. These guys are strong and fast and great athletes.

I’m not that young kid going into Neyland Stadium trying to take on Tennessee linebackers anymore.

With experience comes a little bit of wisdom and I feel like I’m a little bit smarter when it comes to those decisions.

ON THE ART OF PLAYING SAFE

I’m not too good at it, but there’s a little bit of art to it. More than anything it’s trusting your instincts, knowing when to get down, feeling the pressure and just knowing when to avoid hits.

Richard (Brehaut’s) pretty good at it, watching him I’ve picked up some things. He does a little spin move, so I might try and incorporate it into my repertoire.

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HUNDLEY IMPRESSES AT SCRIMMAGE

What up, Bruins fans.

This is Vinny Bonsignore, I’m filling in today for Jon Gold.

Just got off the conference call with Rick Neuheisel after the scrimmage today, and I thought you might be interested in a few things.

No, he didn’t decide on who is starting quarterback is, although he did say he’ll work through some options (presumably this weekend) and inform Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut of the outcome early next week.

He said Kevin looked sharp, but that neither really aired it out much and he’s happy with where each guy is.

The scrimmage had a definite smash-mouth feel to it, according to Neuheisel, and among the bright spots was the play of freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, who was getting his first taste of scrimmage action this fall.

Hundley wasn’t a live target, but he apparently showed a nice command of the playbook and is on target to play a role this year.

Neuheisel says to expect Hundley to play the Tim Tebow/Terrelle Pryor type role both of those guys played as freshman at Florida and Ohio State.

There were no injuries to report, and as far as guys on the mend, there was some good news to report:

Guard Jeff Baca is progressing faster than expected from the broken ankle he suffered last spring, and Neuhesiel now says there is a chance Baca wil be back by week two against San Jose State.

“He could start practicing as early as next week,” Neuhesiel said. “But we’ll be prudent as far as when he gets back on the field.”

Wide receiver Taylor Embree, who is dealing with a calf injury, went through all pre-scrimmage warm ups and should return to practice Monday.

If anything else comes up I’ll hook you guys as fast as I can.

Be sure to check out the full notebook, which should be up around 11:30 p.m. at dailynews.com tonight.

Out.

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