UCLA head coach Steve Alford talked to the media on Tuesday to preview his second season, touching on how the Bruins’ depth has tilted to the frontcourt, his impressions of the freshmen, and — perhaps most importantly — what the team’s guard rotation will look like.
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.
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
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.
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
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley talked to reporters about what’s gone wrong for the Bruins in back-to-back losses, the emergence of running back Paul Perkins, and his memories of his four-interception performance at Cal in 2012.
Excited to say that I'm verbally committed to UCLA. pic.twitter.com/h2yTtKVCYz
— Cassius Peat (@cassiuspeat) October 14, 2014
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.
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.”
UCLA will kick off its Oct. 25 road game against Colorado at 11 a.m. PT, the Bruins’ earliest start since their season opener against Virginia.
The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks, and marks the third straight contest UCLA will start before 1 p.m. PT — following back-to-back 12:30 p.m. kickoffs against Oregon and Cal on FOX and ESPN2, respectively.
This is not the season UCLA had expected.
Popularly touted as a national title contender through most of the summer, the Bruins no longer even look like a conference contender. They started the season by stumbling through three unconvincing nonconference wins, getting by with timely plays despite some lackluster overall numbers. After a bye week, UCLA briefly found itself — storming out to a 62-27 rout at then-No. 15 Arizona State and bouncing back into the top 10 of the AP poll.
Reality hit a week later. Utah gashed the Bruins on the ground and won 30-28 at the Rose Bowl. On Saturday, Oregon followed that with a 42-30 victory over UCLA that never felt close.
Now unranked with even a Pac-12 South division title far from guaranteed, Bruin head coach Jim Mora told the media who to blame.
“Just remember whenever you write anything, that the guy that should get all the blame is me,” he said Sunday. Continue reading