Kenny Clark leads UCLA with All-Pac-12 first team selection

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins' lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA's season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins’ lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA’s season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Through most of the season, nose tackle Kenny Clark looked like UCLA’s best player. Pac-12 coaches agreed.

When the All-Pac-12 teams were announced Tuesday, Clark was the Bruins’ sole first-team representative on offense, defense, or special teams. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior was second on the team with seven tackles for loss, showed off his development as a pass rusher by notching his first five career sacks.

UCLA placed several more players on the second team. On offense, running back Paul Perkins, center Jake Brendel and left tackle Conor McDermott all earned spots. Linebacker Deon Hollins and defensive backs Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood filled in for the defense.

Receiver Jordan Payton, linebacker Aaron Wallace, and cornerback Marcus Rios were honorable mentions.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of the all-conference selections was Ka’imi Fairbairn settling for being a second-team specialist. The kicker became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer this season, hit a school-record 60-yard field goal, and is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Throw in his respectable 20 of 23 conversion rate on field goals, and he seemed like a shoe-in on the first team.

Instead, Pac-12 coaches voted for Aidan Schneider. The Oregon sophomore was slightly more accurate at 20 of 22, but hadn’t attempted a field goal longer than 41 yards. Fairbairn’s three misses have come from 47, 49 and 50 yards.

See the full All-Pac-12 teams below: Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn named a Lou Groza Award finalist

UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbairn was named one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award today, keeping him in the running to officially become college football’s top kicker.

Kai Forbath is the only Bruin to have won the award, doing so in 2009. If Fairbairn becomes the second, it’ll be a fitting finish to his remarkable turnaround as a senior. He’s competing with Auburn’s Daniel Carlson and Memphis’ Jake Elliott, with the winner to be announced on Dec. 7.

Here’s how the three stack up statistically:

Overall 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Long
Fairbairn 20-22 0-0 7-7 9-9 2-3 2-3 60
Carlson 20-23 0-0 6-8 7-7 3-3 4-5 56
Elliott 22-26 0-0 6-6 7-10 8-9 1-1 52

Fairbairn arguably has the most impressive overall resume, one that features a school-record 60-yard field goal. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

Five thoughts after UCLA’s win over Utah

In case you missed anything from UCLA’s 17-9 win at Utah, here’s our coverage from yesterday in Salt Lake City.

» The Bruins’ defense made key adjustments, and shut a team out of the end zone for the third time this season.
» Jordan Payton set a new UCLA record with his 194th career catch. He also became only the eighth Bruin to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and the first since Nelson Rosario in 2011.
» VIDEOS: Jim Mora, Tom Bradley, Josh Rosen / Paul Perkins, Deon Hollins, Jordan Payton, Takkarist McKinley, Jayon Brown

A few more thoughts on UCLA, and the road ahead …

1. The Bruins are in good position to win the Pac-12 South. Jim Mora has won three straight games against USC, taking the last two by more than two touchdowns. If a fourth is what stands between UCLA and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship, it’s very difficult to imagine this team letting up. As much as he’s struggled against Stanford, Mora has consistently prepared to against both USC and Arizona, going 7-0 with an average margin of almost 21 points. That’s not just happenstance.

While the Trojans have opened as 3.5-point favorites, that only feeds into UCLA’s preference for the underdog role. Even Josh Rosen has caught onto this.

“I hope we don’t get ranked after this game,” he said Saturday. “Because for some reason, we don’t like playing ahead. We like when people doubt us.”

That said, with the division at stake, this could easily go down to the wire.

2. The offensive line could have issues. Left tackle Conor McDermott injured his right knee on Saturday, and wasn’t able to walk off the field unassisted. Mora wouldn’t say much about his status, but coming back from something like that in one week seems unlikely. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbairn one point away from school scoring record

The next time UCLA scores, Ka’imi Fairbairn will the Bruins’ new all-time scoring leader.

An extra point would put him in a tie with John Lee, who scored 390 points from 1982-85, while a field goal would put him in sole possession of first place on the school’s career rankings. The senior, scrutinized in the past for his struggles from long distance, credited his team for helping him close in on the milestone.

“It doesn’t even come into your mind until this part of the season,” Fairbairn said. “A record like this may say my name on it, but I don’t think there’s a record that has more team effort. … Whether it be the offense, how they score points, PATs — even the defense scoring points. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbairn named Lou Groza Award semifinalist

UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn (15) is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award. He is 13 of 14 on field goals, and made a career-high 60 yarder against Cal on Oct. 22, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn (15) is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award. He is 13 of 14 on field goals, and made a career-high 60 yarder against Cal on Oct. 22, 2015. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA senior Ka’imi Fairbairn was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given each year to the top kicker in college football.

He has hit 13 of 14 field goals, giving him a 92.9 percent conversion rate that ranks the best among kickers with double-digit attempts. UConn’s Bobby Puyol (92.3), Western Kentucky’s Garrett Schwettman (91.7) and Stanford’s Conrad Ukropina are the only others above 90 percent.

Fairbairn has hit two of three tries from at least 50 yards away, including a school-record 60-yarder against Cal on Oct. 22, the longest make in any FBS game since 2012. He is 12 points away from tying John Lee’s all-time UCLA scoring record of 390.

The three finalists for the Lou Groza Award will be named on Nov. 24, while the winner will be announced on Dec. 10 on ESPN. Kai Forbath is the only Bruin to have won the trophy, doing so in 2009.

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page