Myles Jack finds out that, yes, he did notch a sack as a true freshman

All-everything linebacker Myles Jack is good at a lot of things, but he wants to be a better pass rusher.

“I feel like things have slowed down,” he said. “I understand the angles, what I need to do in certain situations more with a year under my belt. Watching film this offseason, I understand more what I need to do. Hopefully it’s going to transpire this year. That’s really what I’m working on, to get a sack this year. One at least.

“I didn’t get one last year. I was kind of upset about that.”

Didn’t you sneak one sack in at the end of UCLA’s last season?

“Almost did.”

But Myles, you were credited with one in the Sun Bowl. There it is on the box score: In the third quarter, on 2nd-and-12 at the UCLA 30-yard line, you sacked Mark Leal for eight yards.

“Oh, I did? Oh, OK. I’ll take that.”

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Jim Mora ‘hopeful’ Brett Hundley will stay at UCLA

After UCLA’s win over USC on Nov. 30, head coach Jim Mora seized the moment. During a live postgame interview, he attempted to rope star quarterback Brett Hundley into committing to another year in college.

It didn’t work — Hundley demurred on his NFL draft decision — but a month later, Mora remained optimistic heading into a Sun Bowl matchup against Virginia Tech.

Asked today if he’s thought about the redshirt sophomore potentially playing his final game as a Bruin, the coach said: “I don’t think it will be. I’m very hopeful it won’t be.”

Earlier this week, Hundley said he had not yet received feedback from the NFL draft advisory board, and remains uncertain about his future. Continue reading

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Coordinator Noel Mazzone grades UCLA’s offensive line

Today’s notebook focuses again on UCLA’s trio of freshman linemen, whom offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone gave a B-/C+ grade.

– As he’s done all weeek, UCLA head coach Jim Mora continued lauding the virtues of El Paso and the Sun Bowl.

“What I’ve really enjoyed about the Sun Bowl is the events,” he said. “I’ll tell you why: a lot of bowl games — not that I’ve been to a lot — is you go to events and you kind of separate. They’ve done a great job at the Sun Bowl of creating events where you come together. Our team has gotten to spend a whole lot of time together.” Continue reading

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Sun Bowl at a glance: No. 17 UCLA vs. Virginia Tech

No. 17 UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3 ACC)
Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas; Dec. 31, 11 a.m. PT
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: This is the first meeting between Virginia Tech and UCLA.

Key storylines: Only seven UCLA teams have ever won 10 games in a season, the last one being the 2005 squad helmed by Drew Olson. Jim Mora has the Bruins on the right path with a second straight nine-win campaign despite a tougher schedule, but getting that double-digit milestone would make a nice selling point for the program. Continue reading

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UCLA running backs all healthy for the first time

At long last, UCLA will have a full stable of backs. Head coach Jim Mora said starter Jordon James, Paul Perkins, Damien Thigpen, Malcolm Jones and Steve Manfro should be 100 percent healthy heading into the Sun Bowl next Tuesday.

“They all looked really sharp out here today,” Mora said. “It’s probably been since training camp that we can say that. … It’s probably the first game that they’ve all been ready to go. So we’ll have to find a way to get them all reps.” Continue reading

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Jim Mora talks about UCLA’s early bowl prep

Jim Mora said Saturday that UCLA has yet to start preparing for Virginia Tech, but will move into a “game week” earlier than it did last season for the Holiday Bowl. The Bruins lost 49-26 to Baylor.

“I think last year we maybe spent too much time with the young guys and not enough time on Baylor,” Mora said.

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By the numbers: UCLA a 7-point Sun Bowl favorite

No. 17 UCLA opened as a seven-point favorite over Virginia Tech in the 80th Hyundai Sun Bowl. We’re still three weeks out from the 11 a.m. PT New Year’s Eve kickoff, but here are some other (semi-)relevant numbers:

50 — Points scored by UCLA in its 2005 Sun Bowl appearance, which capped the program’s last 10-win season. The win over Northwestern marked the Bruins’ highest scoring output in any postseason appearance. It also set a Sun Bowl record, one broken two years later by Oregon’s 56-21 win over South Florida.

136 — Rushing yards that day by then-freshman Kahlil Bell, a breakout performance that saw him score two touchdowns and clear seven carries for the first time. Bell only ran for triple-digit yards four more times at UCLA.

42.99Cost of a Helen of Troy Professional Ceramic Hair Dryer. A similar model is included in the Sun Bowl’s gift package, which also contains a Majestic fleece pullover and gift suite. Continue reading

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