VIDEO: Jim Mora, Bill Snyder preview Alamo Bowl

UCLA coach Jim Mora and Kansas State coach Bill Snyder talk to reporters before the Alamo Bowl, fielding questions on their respective (non-)interest in the San Francisco 49ers job opening and potential retirement date.

» A look back at the ups and downs of Brett Hundley’s UCLA career.
» The upcoming quarterback competition this spring boils down to either incoming freshman Josh Rosen or current backup Jerry Neuheisel — and smart money’s on the former.

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UCLA center Jake Brendel will return for senior season

UCLA center Jake Brendel has requested an NFL draft evaluation, but said Wednesday that he will definitely return to play his senior season.

Although the news isn’t surprising, the return of offensive line’s most veteran member stabilizes the unit just as the team prepares to introduce a new starting quarterback — a race that Brendel expects to come down to either current backup Jerry Neuheisel or incoming five-star freshman Josh Rosen.

If the Bruins keep the same starting offensive line heading into next season, they will have a senior, a redshirt junior, and three true juniors up front.

“We can take this offseason and really just hone in on our skills and work on just our simple techniques and work on just a lot of the simple things,” Brendel said. “Just break everything down, and really just progress as a unit. It’s always nice to have five selected guys that are going to be starting, and then once the new class comes in, we can just see who fits in where.”

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How UCLA’s Owamagbe Odighizuwa studies other athletes

If you missed it yesterday, here’s a link to the story on UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who may be the program’s first-ever philosophy major. One tidbit that didn’t make it was how the senior studies other athletes.

Instead of just looking at players who play his position, he likes to examine everyone from tight ends to tackles to quarterbacks — focusing on some of the intangible aspects of how they carry themselves and prepare for games.

“I think schematically, some of those players that are in the NFL don’t do what we’re doing at UCLA,” he said. “Guys like J.J. Watt aren’t really doing what I’m doing. Schematically, they’re two different things. But I like the attitude he brings to the game, his approach and dedication. I like guys like Rob Gronkowski. He likes to have a good time off the field, but when the lights come on, he handles his business. And then you compare it to a guy like Tom Brady, who has a family life. He’s married with kids.

“I like to just get a feel for that. Continue reading

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Kansas St. defensive coordinator Tom Hayes recalls UCLA stint

On a Kansas State staff which has four coaches combining for 89 seasons on campus, Tom Hayes is a relative newcomer. The defensive coordinator is finishing up just his fourth year as a Wildcat.

But it’s not as if the 31-year coaching veteran lacks experience. His winding career includes a nearly decade-long stop at UCLA, back before anyone playing in this year’s Alamo Bowl was born.

“It was different in many ways,” Hayes said. “One thing is I had a lot more hair and it was dark.” Continue reading

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UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks accepts Senior Bowl invitation

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks became the second Bruin to accept an invitation to the upcoming Senior Bowl, event officials announced on Monday.

“Eric showed up big all year for the Bruins,” said Phil Savage, executive director of the pre-NFL draft all-star game. “He is a run-and-hit linebacker that can play all three downs and help on special teams, too.”

The 6-foot, 230-pound defender has led the country in solo tackles in two of his three seasons as a full-time starter, and capped his final year in Los Angeles by winning the Butkus Award, the top honor for collegiate linebackers. He also became UCLA’s second straight winner of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, after former All-American and eventual ninth overall draft pick Anthony Barr.

Kendricks will be joined in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 24 by UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who accepted his Senior Bowl invite just before Thanksgiving. Fourteen other Pac-12 players are also on the roster.

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Malcolm Bunche’s UCLA career ends early due to academic issues

UCLA offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche did not travel to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl due to an academic issue, effectively ending the graduate transfer’s career with the Bruins.

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound lineman transferred from Miami and earned a starting spot to open his lone season in Los Angeles, but was moved from left tackle in favor of Conor McDermott after six games. He started three games at left guard, then was benched entirely when sophomore Alex Redmond returned from a sprained ankle.

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UCLA ends nonconference play at Alabama with third straight loss

Earlier this week, Steve Alford said plainly that UCLA is not ready to beat a top-10 team in mid-December. So how about an unranked team in late December?

After falling to then-No. 9 Gonzaga and No. 1 Kentucky earlier this month, the Bruins suffered their third straight loss on Sunday — a 56-50 loss at Alabama that featured yet another ugly start.

UCLA opened scoring with an alley-oop from Tony Parker to Norman Powell, but not much went well after that. The Crimson Tide went on a 20-3 run that finally ended nearly 15 minutes into the game, and took a 12-point lead into the break. Alabama guard Ricky Tarrant matched the Bruins on his own by scoring 17 points in the first half, and finished with a season-high 24 on 7 of 17 shooting. He also made 8 of 10 free throws, and had an assist and two steals. Continue reading

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