UCLA announces Tom Bradley as new defensive coordinator

UCLA has announced the hiring of former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley as the Bruins’ new defensive coordinator, officially ending a search the began almost three weeks ago.

“To bring a coach of Tom Bradley’s caliber to UCLA is very exciting,” head coach Jim Mora said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game, extensive experience, level of intensity and attention to detail all make him one of the best defensive teachers in college football.

“Combine that with the fact that he has strong national recruiting ties and is one of the most well respected coaches in the game — it all adds up to Tom being a tremendous addition to our staff.” Continue reading

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Who will UCLA get to replace Mike Tuiasosopo?

UCLA’s relatively quiet search for a defensive coordinator isn’t the team’s only job opening. The Bruins have also let go of outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Mike Tuiasosopo, who served that position for just one season.

Tuiasosopo never looked like a great fit on UCLA’s staff, and if you had polled observers way back in August, he would have been the one least likely to keep his job at the end of the year. His background lay mostly in coaching defensive lines, and although he was nominally the special teams coordinator, those duties were split between different members of the staff.

So who’s up next? If Jim Mora decides to keep it in-house, the most logical choice would be Scott White, a former graduate assistant who assisted with coaching linebackers the past couple of seasons.

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Mike Tuiasosopo: UCLA special teams has ‘unbelievable standard’

Assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo walks past player stretches during spring practice on April 7, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo walks past player stretches during spring practice on April 7, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Officially, Mike Tuiasosopo is in charge of coaching UCLA’s outside linebackers and special teams. Practically speaking, the latter role is more muddled.

Back in April, head coach Jim Mora said that his newest assistant coach was “still feeling his way through special teams.” Under former linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, the Bruins became one of the best kick and punt return coverage units in college football. Tuiasosopo doesn’t have that type of resume.

According to Tuiasosopo himself, special teams is still coached by committee. Continue reading

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UCLA post-spring position outlook: Special teams

Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. This blog has covered the status of each position group moving forward. Last in the series is …

Special teams

Recently, special teams hasn’t been a major concern for UCLA. Over the last two seasons, the team blocked 12 kicks and punts — an FBS total matched only by Rutgers. Last year, it ranked top-20 in both opponent punt and kick returns; in four of the five years prior, the Bruins ranked outside the top 40 in the former and the top 100 in the latter.

A key difference looms heading into this fall: Jeff Ulbrich is no longer the UCLA special teams coordinator.

Promoted the defensive coordinator, Ulbrich will continue coaching inside linebackers but surrenders lead oversight of the unit that helped extend his own professional career. Outside linebackers will be charged to new assistant Mike Tuiasosopo, who also holds the title of special teams coach. Continue reading

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Spring notes: ‘Real’ spring game hinges on health of UCLA offensive line


– With the UCLA in injury-prevention mode, Monday night practice was fairly light and almost entirely non-contact. The Bruins ran some seven-on-seven drills, but otherwise, there wasn’t much competitive work to start the week.

Head coach Jim Mora said he wasn’t sure yet whether or not he would keep the team out of pads for the rest of the week. Schools around the country have already held their spring games, and many of them seem to have played full-on competitions rather than the mixed-drill event UCLA held a year ago. Mora said last week that he hopes for more “actual football” on Saturday at the StubHub Center, but much of that will depend on the team’s health.

“You always want to put on a good show for your fans,” Mora said. “People come out that support your program, I think it’s important that you put on a good show for them. Our primary objective has to be the health of our football team, and I think everyone would understand that.” Continue reading

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Mike Tuiasosopo to coach outside linebackers, special teams

New assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo will coach outside linebackers and special teams, UCLA officially announced today.

He fills the role vacated by Jeff Ulbrich, who was promoted to defensive coordinator after Lou Spanos left for the Tennessee Titans last month. Tuiasosopo had spent the bulk of his career as a defensive line coach, most recently at Colorado (2011-12) and Arizona (2004-10). Continue reading

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Report: Mike Tuiasosopo joins UCLA staff

UCLA has plugged a familiar family name onto its coaching staff.

According to Bruin Report Online, the Bruins hired Mike Tuiasosopo to fill the vacancy that opened when defensive coordinator Lou Spanos left for the Tennessee Titans. Linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was promoted to coordinator,

Tuiasosopo was most recently a defensive line coach at Colorado under Jon Embree in 2011 and 2012. He coached the same unit at Arizona from 2004-10.

His cousin, Manu, was an All-American defensive lineman at UCLA in the 1970s. His nephew, Marques, was the Bruins’ tight ends coach in 2012 and recently joined Steve Sarkisian’s USC staff.

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