Yogi Roth: UCLA football is as ‘gifted’ as any team in the Pac-12

UCLA began practicing again on its Westwood campus on Monday, Aug. 24. (Scott Tarley/Staff)

The Pac-12 Networks crew arrived at UCLA on Tuesday — their latest stop on their preseason tour around the conference — and analyst Yogi Roth took some time to share a few of his thoughts on the Bruins.

How does UCLA compare to the other teams you’ve seen across the conference?

“Deepest team in the Pac-12 conference, I think, all across the board. You hear 18 starters? It’s really more like 20, 21 starters. Not even including special teams. I would’ve picked them to win the Pac-12 if we had an answer at the position that matters the most. And they’ll figure that out. … But they are gifted, man. I mean, when I saw last year on ‘The Drive,’ seeing the build and the youth — the year before that they played 12 true freshmen, I think. (Note: UCLA actually played 18 true freshmen in 2013.) This year, maybe two, maybe three guys are gonna play? You just have crazy depth. …

“This is my 15th year in major college football. I’ve never seen players work for a head coach like they work for Jim. I’ve never seen the admiration that they have. I think he’s got something really brewing here. And if they can get consistent play at the quarterback position — and I think those two guys should do it — they’re as gifted as anybody.”

What do you think of the quarterback competition between Jerry Neuheisel and Josh Rosen?

“In San Bernardino last week, I saw Jerry have full command of the offense. I talked to him this summer, he said this offseason was the best of his life. And you have that when you have your opportunity. I remember as a player, we all went through that. When you get your chance to be the guy, it’s just different. It just is. He led all the workouts. He’s clearly the leader of this team. Whether that means he starts or not, I don’t know. But I saw a guy that was in total command of the offense. A guy that is saying, ‘I know you’re playing well, Josh, but I’m still here.’ He hasn’t given up the job.

“You look at Josh, and I’ve said this a bunch of times, I think he’s the most gifted quarterback in this conference, top to bottom. I know what that means. He may not be ready to play yet. But if you ask the quarterback gods to build somebody, they’d build Josh Rosen. I don’t know what Troy Aikman looked like at his age, but I just imagine it very similarly. I’ve known Josh a long time. His functional football intelligence is on par with Jerry’s. Jerry grew up with a coach. Josh is a savant, mentally. But he’s a first-time starter as a freshman, from the jump. I would expect both of them to play, because I think both probably earned it.”

Does it affect the offense not to have a starting quarterback named yet this close to the start of the season?

“I don’t think so. I think one of the biggest misnomers in college football is the fact that we talk about players as leaders. Continue reading

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Did Bolu Olorunfunmi successfully stiff-arm Myles Jack in practice?

Bolu Olorunfunmi has been one of the most pleasant surprises in UCLA’s 2015 recruiting class, showing off surprising quickness and speed and establishing himself as a legitimate option in this season’s backfield.

The three-star recruit is excited to get going too. On Sunday, he posted on Twitter a bit of film from one of the Bruins’ practices, one that featured him wiggling through a hole for a few hard-earned yards. As he broke through the line, he stiff-armed linebacker Myles Jack — leaving the star linebacker on the ground for a few seconds.

But Jack also took to Twitter to clarify what happened:

So, what really happened on that play?

“Honestly, I’ve been known in high school to kind of put my hand in facemasks,” said Olorunfunmi, who deleted his original tweet. “I’m not even sure what happened. I don’t even remember doing that in the play. Once I get the ball, I just run.”

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VIDEO: UCLA’s Myles Jack happy to get out of San Bernardino

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack just finished his third fall camp at Cal State San Bernardino. And he couldn’t be happier to be done.

“Honestly, I hate going out there,” he said Monday on campus. “That’s just real. But it’s good for you. Sometimes, life is about doing things you don’t want to have to do.

“San Bernardino’s one of those things. In the long run, looking back on it, I’ll definitely appreciate it.”

He also talked about the depth of the linebacker corps, and the likelihood of him returning kicks for the Bruins this season.

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UCLA football ranked 13th in 2015 preseason AP poll

UCLA head coach Jim Mora watches as his the team stretches during the Bruins afternoon practice at Cal State San Bernardino in San Bernardino, Ca., Thursday, August 20, 2015. (John Valenzuela/Staff)

UCLA head coach Jim Mora watches as his the team stretches during the Bruins afternoon practice at Cal State San Bernardino in San Bernardino, Ca., Thursday, August 20, 2015. (John Valenzuela/Staff)

For the third straight year, UCLA has a place in the preseason Associated Press poll.

The Bruins earned the No. 13 spot in the rankings, announced Sunday, making them the third-highest ranked team in Pac-12. They had opened the 2013 and 2014 seasons at No. 21 and 7, respectively. Before head coach Jim Mora arrived, they were among the nation’s preseason top 25 just once in eight years.

UCLA, which just ended camp at San Bernardino, finished No. 10 in the final AP poll last season, and ended up 16th the year before.

Last month, the Bruins landed at No. 14 in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll.

See the full preseason AP poll below: Continue reading

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