Head coach Jim Mora talked after UCLA’s first formal practice after the regular season, touching on the Bruins’ loss to Stanford, the team’s bowl practice schedule, and what it meant for linebacker Eric Kendricks to win the Butkus Award.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is “fine” after injuring his finger in the 31-10 loss to Stanford that ended the Bruins’ regular season.
Hundley injured a finger on his right hand and could not finish the game against the Cardinal. The redshirt junior had an ice pack taped to his hand afterward.
Asked about Hundley, Mora stuck to his favorite answer regarding injuries: “He’s fine.”
Mora also confirmed again that the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2 will be Hundley’s final game before declaring for the NFL draft — something both the quarterback and his teammates had said before. Hundley originally stated in January that his third season with the Bruins would be his last, following his announcement that he was passing on the 2014 NFL draft.
Hundley was named to the All-Pac-12 second team this month, though his inconsistent play this season likely affected his NFL stock.
To get an accurate measure of how this season went for UCLA, there’s no better person to turn to than Jim Mora himself.
“We’re not trying to be average,” the head coach told his players back during training camp in San Bernardino. “We’re not after good. Nobody in here is going to be satisfied when, at the end of the year, people say, ‘Oh, they’re a good football team.’
“Great. Every single day, everything we do, that’s got to be our focus: great.”
By that standard, UCLA’s third year under Mora was a tremendous disappointment. There’s no masking that after a 31-10 loss to Stanford ended the Bruins’ chance at a Pac-12 Championship, though the team deserves some credit for not letting the season spiral out of control after losses to Utah and Oregon. At midseason, the Bruins were teetering. The way the team looked after ugly wins at Cal and Colorado, a nine-win season looked optimistic.
But in notching impressive wins over Arizona, Washington and USC, UCLA pushed the bar back up. Expectations rose again to a “New Year’s Six” bowl, or even the College Football Playoff.
The Cardinal ended those dreams, shaping into the Bruins’ schematic Kryptonite even in a down season. It was an outcome that should have seen Mora shouldering more blame, something I recall him emphatically doing only once this year. Continue reading
UCLA defensive back and returner Ishmael Adams injured his ankle in Saturday’s 38-20 win against USC, and remained limited during Monday’s practice.
However, head coach Jim Mora sounded optimistic about Adams’ chances to return against Stanford this Friday to help the Bruins clinch the Pac-12 South. The 5-foot-8 corner has returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season, as well as 100-yard kick return score. He also has 33 tackles and four pass breakups.
“He came out and he moved around,” Mora said. “I didn’t see much of a limp. Continue reading
» I mentioned it in my story from UCLA’s 38-20 win over USC last night, but it’s worth repeating again: For the first time ever, the Bruins’ football program has three straight nine-win seasons.
Several times before, UCLA had gotten close. The Bruins had back-to-back nine-win seasons in the mid-1950s, but those were bracketed by a eight- and seven-win campaigns. Tommy Prothro opened his tenure a decade later with eight, nine and seven wins. And from 1982-88, Terry Donahue had five nine- or 10-win seasons broken up by seven wins in 1983 and eight wins in 1986.
Last month, Jim Mora got particularly defensive about the Bruins’ lackluster midseason performances, and challenged everyone to find a stretch of UCLA football that’s better than this one — considering youth and turnover. With UCLA potentially in line to win 11 games for the first time, his argument looks stronger by the week.
» How much has the rivalry swung? UCLA hasn’t won three straight games over USC by double digits since 1952-55, when Red Sanders coached the Bruins to 13-0, 34-0, and 17-7 victories.
» Brett Hundley finished the game against USC with all types of new UCLA records, passing Cade McNown to become the new career leader in total offensive yards (11,353) and extending his own mark of 300-yard total offense games to 19. He had his 10th career 300-yard passing game, and needs just one more to tie McNown. He ran for his 28th career touchdown, which breaks his tie with John Sciarra and puts him alone in second behind Gary Beban (35) among Bruin quarterbacks.
But despite finishing 22-of-31 for 326 yards and three touchdown passes, it was not an overly impressive game for the redshirt junior. He didn’t see the defender on his early interception near the sideline, and it was the type of coverage that had cost him turnovers before. A lot of his longer passes also benefited from yards after the catch by his receivers, or poor coverage by USC, or both.
It’s clear, however, that he trusts his offensive line more and more — something offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone confirmed after the game. He has good reason. UCLA has allowed 32 sacks this season, but just eight in its last five games. That stretch coincides with when Conor McDermott taking over as starting left tackle.
» The defensive line played its best game of the season, finally generating the type of pass rush that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had promised would come for most of the season. Continue reading
UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked about the Bruins’ 38-20 win over USC, one that made Brett Hundley the school’s first quarterback to go 3-0 against the Trojans since Cade McNown.
Jim Mora is the third-highest paid coach in the Pac-12, and the 19th-most well-off in college football.
According to figures collected by USA Today, Mora’s $3.25 million in total pay puts him behind Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez (a hair under $3.3 million) and Washington’s Chris Petersen ($3.68 million). It did list salary numbers for Steve Sarkisian, as USC is a private institution not obligated to disclose its financial details. Sarkisian made roughly $2.25 million per year, though that would have jumped to $2.85 million in his final season.
An interesting note in the Pac-12: Mark Helfrich, who coaches first-place Oregon, makes $10,150 less than Mike MacIntyre, who coaches last-place Colorado.
Unsurprisingly, the Big Ten and the SEC each had four coaches place in the top 10. Alabama’s Nick Saban leads the country with total pay of $7,160,187. That puts him $1,524,042 ahead of Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, who holds second place.