The search for UCLA’s long-lost running game continues Saturday at the Rose Bowl as the Bruins face No. 19 Utah at 1 p.m.
It’s been well documented here and in many other places that UCLA’s running game is one of the worst in the nation. It took a nose dive against BYU (rushing for only 50 yards) and never resurfaced during Pac-12 play.
During the past four games, 39.8 percent of UCLA’s rushing attempts have gone for no gain or negative yardage. An additional 24.7 percent have gone for just 1 to 3 yards. The Bruins only have three running plays of longer than 16 yards against Pac-12 opponents this season.
Here’s a look at how rushing attempts have been split up during the conference schedule, showing some information about yardage gained by each rusher. Continue reading
For the second time in as many meetings with the media prior to the season, UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford was asked about the public letter he wrote following last season, an apology for the fourth losing campaign at UCLA since John Wooden retired 41 years ago.
In his response on Friday at Pac-12 media day in San Francisco, Alford referenced Wooden himself, citing the expectations at UCLA created by a man whose accomplishments are unmatched by any coach in the history of college basketball.
“Coach Wooden raised the bar at UCLA,” Alford said. “That bar was raised a long time ago in Westwood by a guy that won a bucket-load of games and a lot of championships and established something that, quite honestly, hasn’t been established anywhere else in the country. So when that bar is that way, there’s expectations. When you don’t meet or come close to those expectations, we talk to our players all the time, there are going to be consequences.”
Alford made clear the consequences to which he referred included his voluntary return of a one-year contract extension through 2020-21, information in the letter he penned after losing the final five games of last season to finish 15-17. Continue reading
From left to right, T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu and Lonzo Ball form the No. 5 recruiting class in the country, according to rivals.com.
Only Oregon and Arizona were chosen to finish ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. Returning nearly all of the Elite Eight team from last season, Oregon received 23 of the first-place votes and Arizona the remaining four, but UCLA finished third by a wide margin.
In the poll released Friday at Pac-12 Media Day, 50 votes separated the Bruins from Cal, which finished 10 votes ahead of fifth-place Colorado. Featuring perhaps the best freshman in the country in Markelle Fultz, Washington finished sixth, followed by USC and Utah.
UCLA can argue it may have the best freshman in the country in Lonzo Ball. Only Arizona landed a more highly ranked group of freshman in the conference than UCLA’s top-five recruiting class including forward T.J. Leaf and center Ike Anigbogu.
Seeing as the Bruins graduated just one player from the team that finished only ahead of Arizona State and Washington State last season, UCLA was richly rewarded by the media for their recruiting haul.
2016-17 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Oregon (23)
2. Arizona (4)
3. UCLA Continue reading
UCLA freshman Austin Kent gets off a 26-yard punt in the first quarter Saturday against Washington State. (Young Kwak/The Associated Press)
UCLA had a very bad punting game last season as the Bruins once had a punt go 0 yards. Then Austin Kent outdid that effort with a minus-1-yard punt last week against Washington State.
The moment was a terrible low in what UCLA hopes will become a career full of highs for the freshman punter.
“He’s a young guy that hit a little dip,” head coach Jim Mora said, “and we have to help him get back on track so we’re really trying to do that and everybody’s encouraging him.”
More on Kent’s up-and-down start to his college career.
Utah enters this Saturday’s matchup with UCLA as the co-leader in the Pac-12 South, but the Utes have a tough schedule ahead and several key injuries weighing them down. At the beginning of the season, this game looked like one that would be a key factor in deciding the Pac-12 South champion. Now the Bruins need it to just stay in the hunt. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kyle Goon answered some questions about the Utes, their growing injury report and their impressive new punter.
1. Injuries have marred Utah’s season, yet the Utes are still tied for first in the Pac-12 South. How have they been able to get by and how long will it last?
It’s been a bit of a circus. The Cal game was the ultimate low, as four key starters were either missing or got injured during the game, and it probably changed the complexion of the match-up — Utah’s only loss of the year. If healthy, it’s reasonable to believe that Utah would be 7-0 so far (they were 1 yard shy of beating Cal). At running back, they’ve gone from a young core to the running back that retired when his starting status appeared to be threatened (see below), and they’re on their fourth center since spring. The defense has been healthier in general, until last week when they lost the free safety and middle linebacker against the Beavers. It’s awfully precarious. I think most observers believe that Utah could be out of the South running if the current injured players miss a lot of time, and ESPN’s FPI ranks them as the fourth-best team in the South. The schedule is backloaded: After UCLA, Utah still has to face Washington, Arizona State, Oregon and Colorado. Continue reading