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 “Coordinator Noel Mazzone grades UCLA’s offensive line” »

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

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 “UCLA running backs all healthy for the first time” »

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.

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