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.
On just his second carry Saturday night, Paul Perkins became UCLA’s latest 1,000-yard rusher.
The redshirt sophomore entered the Bruins’ game against No. 14 Arizona needing four more yards to hit quadruple digits on the season. On his first touch, he cut upfield for three yards. On his second, another three.
He is the 13th UCLA player to ever run for 1,000 yards in one season, and the latest since Johnathan Franklin did so in 2012 with a single-season record of 1,734. Franklin, the program’s all-time leading rusher, also crossed 1,000 as a sophomore in 2010.
I have no idea what’s going to happen to UCLA tonight. The No. 25 Bruins kick off at 7:30 p.m. and could find their groove again against 14th-ranked Arizona — romping out to their most convincing win of the season. They could completely implode in a turnover-filled blowout. They could fall just short, or squeak by in yet another close effort.
Anything is possible!
What to watch at the Rose Bowl as UCLA tries to fix its own recent foot-shooting habits:
UCLA offense vs. Arizona defense: Brett Hundley has lost a fumble in three straight games now, and can’t afford another one in a game that could knock the Bruins out of the race for the Pac-12 South. Tasked with trying to pop the ball out from Hundley’s grip is linebacker Scooby Wright III, who has turned himself into college football’s resident expert in this particular field.
Wright has turned himself from a two-star recruit into one of the conference’s hardest hitters. He leads the country with five forced fumbles, his biggest one coming against Marcus Mariota to clinch the Wildcats’ upset of Oregon. He is also third in the Pac-12 in sacks (8) and second in tackles for loss (14), and is the key to the front of a 3-3-5 scheme that is only giving up 3.88 yards per carry.
Establishing the run will be key for UCLA, which is good given the roll that Paul Perkins has been on recently. Continue reading
Sitting near the top of the Pac-12 South, Arizona has quickly become the conference’s biggest surprise. On the other side of the Rose Bowl this Saturday is UCLA, arguably the conference’s biggest disappointment. Both have six wins, but the former has earned its record in far more convincing fashion than the latter. Daniel Berk from the Arizona Daily Star answered five questions about the No. 14 Wildcats.
Nearly three years in now, how has Rich Rodriguez measured up to what most Arizona fans initially expected? How much did the upset of Oregon earlier this month feel like a turning point for the program?
I think two-plus years in, he’s ahead of where most people thought he’d be. The cupboard was pretty bare when he got here other than Ka’Deem Carey, and he managed to win 16 games in two seasons and win back-to-back bowl games. I think fans were willing to be patient and let him build something, but the expectations changed and were raised going into this season after having some success the first two seasons. I think the win over Oregon was significant, but I’m not sure if it was viewed as a turning point, because Arizona has gotten some big wins like that before, but hasn’t backed them up the following weeks. So I think some fans have been waiting for a letdown game. I think a win Saturday would be more of a turning point with some of the recent struggles UA has had with UCLA. A win Saturday would also set Arizona up pretty nicely with the remainder of its schedule.
How has Rodriguez kept the Wildcats’ offense firing despite cycling through a different quarterback each year?
He’s a quarterback guru and knows how to get more out of guys at that position than most coaches in the country. Few, if any, thought B.J. Denker was a Pac-12 quarterback and he turned him into one in less than two seasons. Anu Solomon certainly had some talent coming out of Bishop Gorman High School and had other options, but the fact that he’s playing as well as he is so early in his career is both a surprise and a credit to Rodriguez and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith. Continue reading
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.”
Paul Perkins might not be the flashiest running back around, but the redshirt sophomore is just four yards away from becoming UCLA’s 13th 1,000-yard rusher.
He’ll likely hit that mark on his very first carry at the Rose Bowl this Saturday. The last two Bruins to reach the milestone were all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin (in both 2012 and 2010) and Chris Markey (2006).
Perkins is currently second in the Pac-12 with 124.5 yards per game, which puts him on pace to rush for 1,618 yards through the regular season plus a bowl game. That would be the second-best single-season mark in school history, behind Franklin’s 1,734.
See the full list of UCLA’s all-time 1,000-yard seasons below: Continue reading