Paul Perkins comfortable with increased workload in UCLA’s backfield

Paul Perkins has lived up to any and all expectations in his first full season as UCLA’s starting running back, becoming the program’s 13th 1,000-yard rusher and ranking third in the Pac-12 with 117.2 yards per game.

Along the way, the redshirt sophomore has had to adjust to a much heavier workload. Last season, he only took double-digit carries five times, and finished the year with 130. This season, he has taken at least 14 carries in every game, and has a total of 190.

“It’s good to have a bye,” Perkins said. “That’s pretty much all I can say.”

Head coach Jim Mora hasn’t noticed a difference in the 5-foot-11 tailback’s performance.

“He hasn’t really shown any indication of being worn out or worn down at all,” he said. “Even on a Tuesday, he bounces back. I guess that’s the good thing about being 19 or 20 years old.” Continue reading

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Washington dismisses starting cornerback Marcus Peters

Washington has reportedly dismissed all-conference cornerback Marcus Peters, dealing a significant blow to its already thin secondary heading into Saturday’s game against No. 18 UCLA.

From the Seattle Times:

Peters got into an argument with an assistant coach during practice Wednesday, a source said, apparently the final straw in a series of run-ins with Washington’s new coaching staff. He also got into an argument with coaches during UW’s victory at Colorado on Saturday and then missed practice on Tuesday, sources said.

After injuries in the defensive backfield, the Huskies had already planned to play leading receiver John Ross III as a nickel cornerback. The Huskies could potentially start three true freshman defensive backs against the Bruins. UW ranks eighth in the Pac-12 in allowing 7.3 yards per pass attempt and 275.3 passing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks are also completing 65.1 percent of their passes against Washington, the highest mark for any team in the conference except Arizona.

A third-year starter who led the team with three picks and 10 pass breakups, Peters is regarded as a potential first-round draft pick who is ranked the No. 13-best prospect in 2015 by CBS Sports.At least one UCLA receiver was looking forward to the matchup.

“He’s definitely an NFL corner,” said junior Jordan Payton, who leads the Bruins with 783 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches. “It’s definitely exciting. You only get a couple of those corners come your way in a lifetime, so you have to take advantage of it.”

UCLA head coach Jim Mora looked surprised this morning when asked about Peters’ dismissal: “He’s a good football player. He’s an NFL-type guy.”

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UCLA 17, Arizona 7: Head coach Jim Mora

UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked about the Bruins’ 17-7 win over No. 14 Arizona, one that kept his team alive in the Pac-12 South race.

“We are 7-2 and it has not been easy,” he said. “They keep fighting. That’s what we’re supposed to do, but not everybody does it.”

He addressed UCLA’s penalties (11 flags, 118 lost yards), quarterback Brett Hundley’s play, and the defense’s resurgent performance.

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Jim Mora hopes UCLA can avoid distractions of ‘Internet and Facebook and Twitter’

Given UCLA’s inconsistent play this season, it’s not surprising that head coach Jim Mora opened his post-practice media session on Thursday by preaching the need to “find the next level.”

Mora talked about the need for the Bruins to focus, and for younger players to adjust to stiffer competition as well as a new environment. That involves, well, thinking a bit more.

“This generation is so easily distracted because of all the access to the Internet and Facebook and Twitter,” he said. “When we were kids, you had to think about stuff. Nowadays, I don’t know that kids have to think about kids for as long as we used to and process them. My point to them is to put that stuff away and think about what we’re doing here. don’t go immediately to the distraction. we have a practice — think about what just happened in the practice instead of going to pick up your phone and looking at the latest Instagram photos.

“That’s a challenge with this generation. I think the’re doing it. I think it’s gradual. You build it. But they’re starting to understand it. I hope they are.”

“I think you guys understand what I mean,” he continued. “You watch kids these days — I watch my own kids — and in the middle of a conversation with them, they’re looking at their phone. We didn’t do that. We used to focus in and talk and comprehend and put things into action. That’s a battle. I’m sure every college coach in America — every teacher in America — faces the same thing.”

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Eric Kendricks, Myles Jack named Butkus Award semifinalists

UCLA’s Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack were both named among 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given each year to the best linebacker in the country.

Kendricks leads the Pac-12 with 93 tackles this season, and is just 43 tackles away from tying Jerry Robinson’s all-time school record of 468. The senior is coming off one of the best games of his career: a 16-tackle performance in the Bruins’ 40-37 win at Colorado that included an interception, as well as three third-down stops to force a punt or a field goal. All but one of his tackles were unassisted.

Head coach Jim Mora called it Kendricks’ best game of the season, adding that the tackle total wasn’t inflated by plays farther down the field. Continue reading

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Jim Mora defends UCLA football against ‘gloom and doom’

UCLA slipped past Colorado on Saturday with a 40-37 road win in double overtime, but it was a victory that saw the Bruins make mistake after mistake against a lesser opponent.

A day later, Jim Mora wanted to remind everyone that this program looked far worse not too long ago.

“Let’s all remember that the last game UCLA played before this whole thing started was a 50-0 ass-kicking,” he said Sunday.

The third-year head coach was referring, of course, to the Bruins’ 50-0 loss to USC in 2011 — one that came just days after former head coach Rick Neuheisel said UCLA had “closed the gap” with their crosstown rivals.

Technically, the Bruins played two more games before Mora took over: a 49-31 loss to then-No. 8 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, and a 20-14 loss to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

But that 50-0 shellacking against the Trojans was the low point that prompted Neuheisel’s firing just days later. Two weeks after that, UCLA hired Mora — who, despite his team’s recent struggles, orchestrated a quick turnaround that few expected.

“We’re only two and a half years into our tenure here, and we’ve won 75 percent of our regular season games with a completely overhauled roster,” Mora said. “I don’t know if you guys know that, but we’re 24-8 in regular season games here since we’ve been here, with a completely overhauled roster.” Continue reading

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