UCLA: Devin Lucien

UCLA enters spring with few holes

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
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One of the ways a football team transitions from a group of wishful maybes to a sense of near-ontological certainty is when its collection of spring practice questions becomes mostly an array of appealing potential options.

So we have UCLA as it transitions from an underachieving program (1999-2011) to a good one (2012-2013) to one that has the makings of a national contender in 2014.

[+] EnlargeJim Mora
Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty ImagesWith few questions to answer this spring, Jim Mora has the makings of a special 2014 season with UCLA.
While the Bruins have questions on their depth chart, there isn't any particular area of vexing concern. The five positions where starters need to be replaced seem likely to be filled by promising athletes with playing experience. If those more veteran players don't rise to the fore during spring practices, that mostly speaks to the program's strong recruiting under Jim Mora.

Further, it's reasonable to project that those 20 or so freshmen and sophomores who saw significant playing time last year will physically and mentally mature into their primes.

There simply aren't any worrisome voids on this team.

As in:
There are, of course, important questions.

Is defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa fully healthy? He told reporters Tuesday that he is. So then is the former A-list recruit ready to break through as a senior?

What does LB/RB Myles Jack do for an encore after one of the best true freshman seasons in recent memory?

And speaking of what's next, is it reasonable to project Hundley taking a strong step forward as a third-year starter? Of course, that's why the program has already launched a Heisman Trophy campaign.

A lot of variables beyond personnel go into a special season -- a Rose Bowl-, College Football Playoff-type season. A team needs a great offseason. It needs positive chemistry and leadership. It needs to avoid injuries. It needs to stay hungry. It needs laser-like focus every week.

Returning starters do not guarantee anything. National champion Florida State only had 11 of them last year.

But on paper, UCLA appears to be the most likely candidate to break the five-year Stanford-Oregon Pac-12 hegemony atop the Pac-12. The Bruins might even be a team that catches the notice of the CFP selection committee in December.

Lunch links: Sanford leaving Stanford

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steele.

Bowl game gives injured players chance to return

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
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LOS ANGELES -- Bowl games mean a lot of different things to those who get to participate: A last shot at glory, a last chance to play with graduating seniors, a chance to end the season on a positive note.

For three UCLA Bruins who have played key roles this season, the Holiday Bowl offers the chance to play in one more game and not have their season end on the sidelines.

Receiver Devin Lucien, running back Steven Manfro and safety Dalton Hilliard all have missed games because of injuries and are looking forward to getting back on the field against Baylor on Dec. 27 in San Diego.

"Any time someone comes up to me and tells me we're going to have to sit you out, that scares you," Hilliard said. "You never know when your last play is and you never know when you're going to have a serious injury. Thankfully I was blessed that this wasn't too serious and I'm able to come back out and play with these guys."

Hilliard missed the Pac-12 championship game after suffering a separated shoulder in the regular-season finale against Stanford.

He missed only one game, but he's also the only senior among the three so he's especially thankful to get one more shot at playing with the team. He said he put in a lot of extra work in the training room getting treatment and rehab over the last couple of weeks to ensure he could play in the bowl.

"There was no way I was going to let that first Stanford game be my last game as a Bruin," Hilliard said.

Manfro, a starter for most games this season, sprained his ankle on his first carry Nov. 10 at Washington State and missed the USC game and the two Stanford games. He said he wanted badly to play each game, but that every time he tested his ankle it was clear he wasn't ready. That's no longer the case, he said.

"I feel like it's 100 percent now," he said.

(Read full post)

Noel Mazzone throws changeup against Utah

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
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LOS ANGELES -- Noel Mazzone has a pretty nasty changeup.

UCLA's offensive coordinator doesn't like to use it much, preferring his offense to go fast, faster or fastest, but on days such as last Saturday, he'll change up the pace in a strategic move.

Going into last week's 21-14 victory over Utah, the Bruins had been averaging 82.6 plays per game, or one every 22.64 seconds. Injuries required the Bruins to start seven freshmen on offense against the Utes so Mazzone figured he'd be better off slowing down the pace.

UCLA ran a season-low 68 plays, averaging one every 27.7 seconds.

"We kind of slowed it down on purpose last week because we had so many new guys in there," Mazzone said. "I don't using freshmen, but when you have seven of them running around out there at the same time it worries me."

The slowdown had an impact on UCLA's offensive numbers. The Bruins were averaging 33.5 points and 529 yards in total offense before that game, but scored 21 and had a season-low 354 yards. The play calling went more conservative as well, with 47 runs and a season-low 21 pass attempts.

"I actually called three runs in a row down in the red zone inside the five which is like a first for me, ever," Mazzone said. "Lightning didn't strike me or anything."

Injuries to receivers Darius Bell and Devin Lucien have forced true freshmen Jordan Payton and Kenneth Walker into starting roles without as much practice time. The result was a season-low 183 yards passing for quarterback Brett Hundley, more than 100 yards below his season average before the game.

Mazzone said he doesn't like to get in defensive battles like that, but did what he had to in that game.

"By nature I'm not a conservative guy," he said. "But you're going to have games like that during the course of a season. Everybody does. We just kind of played a little closer to the vest than I usually like to but it's always about the end result anyway. We didn't score as many points or have as many yards but we won."

Ideally, Mazzone said, he’d like to be running a play every 15 or 20 seconds, much like Oregon does. The Bruins have gotten there only once this season, running a play every 19.4 seconds two weeks ago at Colorado.

Whether the Bruins will match that this season depends on the development of the younger players.

"We're always looking to go faster," Mazzone said. "But it doesn't bother me if we have to go slower. The only thing that bothers me is if we don't have more points than them."

Jerry Rice Jr. gets increased playing time

October, 3, 2012
10/03/12
6:30
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LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA Bruins have a need at receiver, so it must be nice to have someone named Jerry Rice in reserve.

Rice Jr., the son of the NFL's all-time leading receiver, is getting a shot to earn some playing time and is again impressing. He set career highs last week against Colorado with three catches for 30 yards as the coaches called upon the walk-on junior to help fill the void left by injured freshman Devin Lucien. He also made some nice downfield blocks and is expected to again be a factor when the Bruins face California on Saturday.

"When guys go down, I just try to make the most of my opportunity whether it's blocking or catching," Rice said. I'm progressing pretty well. I'm learning a lot of things every day and there are things every day I can work on. I'm just trying to do the little things to become more polished."

This season, he has played in four of UCLA's five games and has four catches for 38 yards. Three of his six career catches have resulted in first downs, including his career-long 20-yard reception in the fourth quarter last week that set up a UCLA touchdown.

"Every time an opportunity comes to me, I'm just looking to make the play whether it's catching or blocking," Rice said. "Right now, I'm playing pretty good but there is always something that I can learn so I always remember that in the back of my head."

Rice said he can only hope to stick in the rotation this year. Last year, he got a shot to play when when four UCLA receivers were suspended the game after a benches-clearing brawl at Arizona. He played most of the following game against California and had two catches for 17 yards in his first career action but played in only one other game the rest of the season after the suspended players returned and did not have another catch.

"It didn't really matter because I can always learn and I've kept learning my whole career," Rice said. "You learn by watching other players play so I watched Nelson [Rosario] and Embo [Taylor Embree] and picked up some things so it translated to this year. You can make anything a positive if you set your mind to it."

Because of the fast tempo UCLA plays this year, the Bruins use a heavy rotation at receiver and have had 11 players catch passes in each of the last two games. Coach Jim Mora said he had no problem using Rice, who is consistently one of the hardest workers in practice, as part of that rotation.

"Jerry played really well the other night," Mora said. "He got extended playing time and did a heck of a job."

Filling the WR void left by Lucien

October, 1, 2012
10/01/12
8:17
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LOS ANGELES -- The loss of receiver Devin Lucien to a broken clavicle will leave a void in the UCLA receiving corps, but the Bruins have the depth to compensate.

Freshman Jordan Payton and walk-on Jerry Rice Jr.
received significantly more playing time Saturday after Lucien went out and Rice ended up with a career-best three catches for 30 yards. Payton also had a catch, his second of the season, and barely missed making a big play when he caught a ball along the sideline but stepped out of bounds.


Those two along, with walk-ons Logan Sweet and Tyler Scott will now be in the mix for more playing time.

“Their role is going to increase so they’ve got to step up and continue to do a good job,” coach Jim Mora said. “Jerry played really well the other night. He got extended playing time and did a heck of a job.

“We just look for those guys to keep improving; we’ll just keep doing what we do.”

Lucien has 10 catches for 188 yards, giving him the third most receiving yards and second best yards-per-catch average on the team. Quarterback Brett Hundley acknowledged it’s a big loss -- especially on a personal level, because the two are close friends off the field and have good chemistry -- but he said the loss can’t affect the team’s play.

“We can’t slow down no matter who goes down, and you have to keep staying on the same page,” Hundley said. “We’ve got to get the guys in there and make sure we work them through our practice and just make sure [we] are on the same page.”

They’ll also need to do a better job of squeezing the ball. Mora said he counted seven dropped passes by Bruins receivers Saturday against Colorado, a season high. The Bruins won, 42-14, so they weren’t all that costly; but in a closer game, those could cost UCLA momentum and points.

Mora said the team and coaching staff would do what they can to rectify the issue, including extra work on the Juggs machine, though Mora is wary of making too big a deal about it.

“It’s tricky,” Mora said. “You don’t want to put so much emphasis on it that you start spooking guys, but you have to work on it ... . With this age group you have to motivate them in the right way so we’ll try to do that.”

Zumwalt still questionable

Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, out last week after a motor scooter accident, has not yet been cleared to play this week and Mora said his status for Saturday is still up in the air.

Zumwalt needed stitches and the services of a plastic surgeon after getting hit by a car while riding his scooter in Westwood last week. He was unable to put on a football helmet because of the gash on his forehead and swelling in his face.

“I saw him this morning and he looked great, but nothing definitive, yet,” Mora said. “The swelling was gone. The wound looked good, so he looks a lot better than he looked Thursday.”

If Zumwalt returns, he will be back at outside linebacker, Mora said, even though his replacement, Damien Holmes, had a career game with seven tackles, three sacks and five tackles for a loss.

“I teased [Jordan] this morning and said, ‘You get healthy fast when a guy goes in you spot and gets three sacks, don’t you?’” Mora said. “It’s good for our team to have competition. It’s great for our team to have multiple players that can do good things on the outside.”

Other injury updates:

Offensive lineman Greg Capella has missed the last two games with a concussion and Mora said he doesn’t expect to have him back this week. … Running back Johnathan Franklin took a helmet to his hand while running the ball against Colorado and left the game briefly, but returned later. Mora said Franklin is “not on the injury report” and “he’s fine.”







Grades: UCLA 37, Houston 6

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
11:15
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PASADENA, Calif. -- The No. 22 UCLA Bruins weren't at their peak form, but were good enough to hold off the struggling Houston Cougars, 37-6, Saturday night at the Rose Bowl. Here's how we have them grading out:

GradePASSING OFFENSE
The passing game had its moments but seemed a bit out of sync most of the game. Brett Hundley completed 27 of 42 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions but didn't see open receivers several times. Pass protection had some breakdowns and rceivers Devin Lucien and Joseph Fauria each fumbled after catches.

GradeRUSHING OFFENSE
It certainly wasn't up to the standards of the first two games, which is a surprise coming against a defense that came in to the game ranked No. 111 in the nation against the run. Still, Heisman contender Johnathan Franklin had 110 yards in 25 carries and the Bruins rushed for 247 yards.

GradePASS DEFENSE
The Bruins absolutely baffled one of the nation's leading passing offenses, holding quarterback David Piland to 260 yards and also pulling down five interceptions. Sheldon Price had three of those interceptions, including one in the end zone. Piland was averaging 395.5 yards passing before this game and had only one pass intercepted in 121 attempts.

GradeRUN DEFENSE
Granted, Houston doesn't really run the ball that much, but the Bruins had their best game of the season up front. They held Houston to 139 yards rushing and that total was in the negative numbers until early in the fourth quarter. Not bad for a UCLA defense that was ranked No. 100 in the nation against the run before the game.

GradeSPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn overcame a shaky early season and made field goals of 35, 23 and 33 yards. Jeff Locke was up to his usual standards with four of five punts inside the 20, including two inside the 10. Damien Thigpen had a 55-yard kickoff return to open the second half and set up a UCLA touchdown.

GradeCOACHING
Excellent game plan on defense for the most complete game of the season on that side of the ball. Noel Mazzone's offensive play calling certainly did enough to get the job done. Still, the team appeared to be having somewhat of a letdown game, especially after a quick score made it seem as if it would be an easy victory.

Grades: UCLA 49, Rice 24

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
9:00
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Brett HundleyScott Halleran/Getty ImagesBrett Hundley had a 72-yard touchdown run on his first collegiate snap as he led UCLA over Rice.

The UCLA Bruins rolled to a 49-24 victory over the Rice Owls in their season opener on Thursday night in Houston. Here is a closer look at how the Bruins performed in various categories.

GradePASSING ATTACK
Freshman Brett Hundley was an impressive 21-for-28 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He made smart decisions for the most part and showed a good command of the offense, spreading the ball to nine different receivers. His one interception was a really bad mistake, however, reminding you that there will still be growing pains. Richard Brehaut chimed in late with 101 yards passing, including a nice deep throw to Devin Lucien.

GradeRUSHING ATTACK
Wasn't the Pistol offense supposed to put up these kinds of numbers? Johnathan Franklin simply dominated with 214 yards rushing and touchdown runs of 74, 78 and 22 yards. Hundley had a 72-yard touchdown run on UCLA's first play from scrimmage -- his first snap at the college level. UCLA had 343 yards rushing -- more than they had in any game last season with the Pistol.

GradePASS DEFENSE
The UCLA defensive line dominated with seven sacks, including two by Datone Jones and Sheldon Price got an interception on Rice's second possession. A pass interference call against Aaron Hester set up a Rice touchdown that made the score 19-17, however and Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue completed and efficient 17 of 28 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

GradeRUN DEFENSE
For most of the game, the Bruins really struggled to defend the option and ended up giving up 173 yards on the ground -- 95 by quarterback McHargue. The liberal use of blitzing early left open spaces that Rice seemed to find. The Bruins clamped down in the second half, however, and gave up only 51 yards on the ground after the break.

GradeSPECIAL TEAMS
Jeff Locke saved this from being a fail with three punts inside the 15 and eight of eight kickoffs for touchbacks, but the rest of the special teams was a circus. Having three extra-point attempts blocked is inexcusable at any level. Also, Dalton Hilliard ran into Steven Manfro attempting to make a fair catch on a punt. It resulted in a turnover that led to a Rice touchdown.

GradeCOACHING
Pitching a shutout in the second half after giving up 24 in the first half is a sign that the staff made some very good adjustments in the locker room. The play-calling on offense was superb as indicated by the bevy of long touchdown plays and mind-boggling 646 yards in total offense. Still get docked for not having the extra-point unit ready for the rush, but overall a very good debut by Jim Mora and staff.

Five things to watch: UCLA at Rice

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
9:45
AM PT
UCLA plays at Rice Thursday at 4:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network. Here are five things to watch:

1. MEET THE NEW BOSS
Jim Mora takes over as coach for the Bruins and promises a tougher and more disciplined style of football. The Bruins were prone to careless penalties and turnovers over the last two seasons and Mora's style may help cut down some of those things. Keep an eye on Mora's game management as well because things are a little different in college than they are in the NFL and Mora has never coached a college game before.

2. FRESH FACE AT QB
Redshirt freshman Brett Hundley will take the field for the first time as a college player. Hundley, a 6-2, 223-pound dual-threat, has been highly anticipated since his arrival at UCLA but didn't win the job last season and sat out honing his craft. He'll almost certainly have to deal with first-game jitters and he'll have to figure out how to handle those nerves. It's been almost two years since he took a live hit and he's never been tackled by a college player, so some Rice player is surely looking to give him a welcome blow. Hundley brings more athleticism to the position than Bruins quarterbacks of the past, so it will be worth noting what he can do with his legs.

3. SPREAD IT OUT
The UCLA offense has a new look this season, switching from the run-based Pistol to the uptempo spread. It is designed to get the ball into the hands of UCLA's playmakers so players such as Jordon James, Damien Thigpen and Steven Manfro who didn't really have a place in the Pistol will now have a chance to shine. The receiving corps is also filled with relatively unknown players, but Shaquelle Evans, Jerry Johnson, Devin Lucien and Kenneth Walker are all capable of breaking a big play. Add in the running abilities of Johnathan Franklin and Hundley as well as the sure hands and mismatch provided by Joseph Fauria and there are plenty of ways this offense can attack. Gong against a defense that was No. 111 in the country last season should help get the wheels rolling.

4. DON'T GET SURPRISED
Rice isn't exactly a juggernaut of a football program, but the Owls do have some playmakers of concern for the Bruins' defense. Speedster wideout Sam McGuffie is a Michigan transfer who led the team in rushing yards and catches two years ago, though he struggled with injuries last season. He'll line up as a receiver, but will probably also get carries. The tight end trio of Luke Willson, Vance McDonald and Taylor Cook are all about 6-5 and 255 pounds, which will create matchup problems for UCLA's defense. Willson was the team's leading receiver last season and he and McDonald are legitimate NFL prospects. If quarterback Taylor McHargue is over his turnover-itis, the Owls could be much better than their No. 91-ranked offense from last season.

5. BACK OF THE LINE
UCLA switched to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Lou Spanos, but it's been a challenge finding four linebackers. Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt bring proven experience, but combine the number of plays everyone else in the two-deep has played at linebacker at the division I level and you get zero. Damien Holmes and Anthony Barr -- tops on the depth chart, are moving from new positions. As with most defenses, the linebackers are counted on to make most of the tackles, but this is an unproven group, especially considering UCLA hardly did any live tackling during camp.

UCLA hopes new offense adds excitement

August, 28, 2012
8/28/12
10:30
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LOS ANGELES -- Pistol haters rejoice; UCLA now has a machine-gun offense.

After two years of a Pistol-based offensive scheme that delivered mostly duds, UCLA will unveil a high-paced spread attack in its season opener Thursday night at Rice.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone used the scheme to produce a bonanza of passing yards and points during the last two seasons at Arizona State while UCLA struggled to throw or score with any measure of consistency.

It's an offense that relies on getting to the ball and running a play as quickly as possible. It will look far different than the last two years, when the UCLA offense moved at a snail's pace, was designed to chew up chunks of clock and keep the opposing offense off the field for as long as possible.

This offense is designed only to chew up yards with dynamic playmakers and it has the team excited as the season draws near.

"It’s a more exciting, big-play offense," quarterback Brett Hundley said. "The Pistol was a great offense, too, but this spread is probably going to be more entertaining to watch. It's fast tempo, fast action, big plays and you’re just making things happen."

Mazzone used it quite effectively at Arizona State. In his first year in Tempe, the Sun Devils ranked No. 15 in the nation in passing offense at 286.42 yards per game and were No. 28 in scoring at 32.25 points per game.

Last year, Arizona State was No. 10 in passing (316.69 ypg) and No. 29 in scoring (33.15 ppg) and perhaps most important to UCLA fans, the Sun Devils racked up 392 yards in offense in a 43-22 victory over USC.

Meanwhile, UCLA frustrated their fans with a deliberate offense that produced a mediocre passing attack, ranking No. 116 in the nation in 2010 and No. 81 last season. The offense offered little scoring punch with 20.2 points per game in 2010 (No. 104 in the nation) and 23.07 in 2011. (No. 88). Because of that, the Bruins had few options when it came time to dig out of holes.

"It definitely makes sense, especially with our personnel," quarterback Kevin Prince said of the new offensive philosophy. "We have tons of guys who we just need to get them in open space and get the ball in their hands. Not having that in the past was frustrating, especially for those guys. They obviously knew what they could do and what they were capable of, so it will be a lot more fun."

(Read full post)

Angry Mora tosses entire team from practice

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
12:22
AM PT
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Mere hours after making his team start practice over, UCLA coach Jim Mora threw in the towel early.

The second session of a double day came to an abrupt end when an irate Mora sent the entire team back to the locker rooms at Cal State San Bernardino. He did not allow players to stay after for additional work or meet with their position coaches. No players spoke with reporters.

Afterward, Mora would not address specifics of what made him so upset, but acknowledged some of the general things that make him upset as a coach.

"Lack of effort, lack of focus, lack of discipline," Mora said.

The morning session got off to a rocky start when the Bruins showed a lack of focus during a walkthrough. Mora restarted practice, making the players re-do warm-ups and stretching. He then went back to the walkthrough.

"The start of practice we had to kick it in a little bit," Mora said Wednesday morning. "These are young men and they are still developing, still learning and still maturing. Sometimes they just need a little push to get going."

He pushed the team right off the field as the evening session was winding down. The practice had become physical with several shoving matches and lots of trash talking. The coaches tried to control it; they even sent one player off the field after a skirmish.

But the lack of discipline continued and Mora launched into a explicative-filled tirade and halted practice in the middle of the 11th period. The team normally goes 12. Mora huddled the team together for more scolding before sending the players to the showers.

It was the penultimate practice at Cal State San Bernardino for the Bruins, who have been in the Inland Empire for 12 days and were at the end of their 15th practice. It's been unusually hot, with temperatures routinely reaching 105 or higher, so the players may be starting to wear down. Wednesday, however, was the first day in the last 10 when temperatures did not hit triple digits.

"It’s been great to be out here, but I think it’s time to get back to Westwood," Mora said. "The players are excited to get home, sleep in their own bed, get in familiar surroundings. It’s been a great two weeks out here, but I think it’s time to go back. We’re two weeks away from Rice and it’s time to go home."

Other practice notes:

(Read full post)

Mora pushes reset button on UCLA practice

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
2:14
PM PT
SAN BERNARDINO--Jim Mora employed the old if-at-first-you-don't-succeed method when UCLA's practice didn't get off to a particularly sharp start Wednesday morning at Cal State San Bernardino.

About 20 minutes in to the session, Mora pushed control-alt-delete and had the players start over from the pre-practice warm up. He said it was a bit of a fun hangover after a team bowling trip the night before and implored the team to learn how to re-focus after a fun experience.

"Sometimes they just need a little push to get going," Mora said. "What I think they are starting to understand is that every time you step on the field, regardless of the circumstances, you have to focus in. I thought they responded well."

Safety Dalton Hilliard also noticed a lack of focus during the early portion of practice with some guys standing on the sideline holding various conversations and not paying attention to what was going on in practice. He fully supported Mora's decision to restart.

"We needed it," Hilliard said. "Whenever we have success and come off of a big win or having fun, we have to be able to flip the switch and put work in."

Hilliard, a senior, said he later regretted not taking action himself and had a meeting with some other seniors about making sure they take the initiative in those situations.

"That’s not something [Mora] should have to do," Hilliard said. As seniors, we have to take it upon ourselves to be like ‘hey guys, let’s focus up.’ As seniors we have to take that a little more seriously especially these next two days with guys focusing on getting back to Westwood. We can’t have our guys lose focus and we have to really make sure the guys finish strong."

O-Line adjusting: The offensive line, down more than a handful of players because of injuries and heat-realted issues, is starting to get some players trickling back into action.

Alexandru Cheachir returned Wednesday morning after sitting out several days with heat issues while Simon Goines, Michael Padovese and Will Oliver were all in attendance. They did not dress, but getting outside is a strong indication that they are close to a return from their heat issues.

The falloff of lineman that ran rampant early in camp seems to have halted, thanks in large part to an adjustment of how they are practicing. Early on, the linemen spent the entire time in the sun, even doing conditioning drills in between periods.

Now, the linemen get frequent breaks in the shade and rest even while the skill players run pass patterns.

"When you’re down numbers and you go at the tempo that we go at, you have to be careful with those guys, Mora said. "They’re the biggest guys, it takes them the longest to cool off so we modified how we practice them strictly because of numbers."

Center Jake Brendel, one of the few linemen who has not had heat problems during camp, said the extra rest has made a big difference.

"It’s really helped," Brendel said. "We’re getting back to full rest, getting back to as rested as we can be to get to the next team period. Lowering the heart rate down and regrouping because this offense can be really intense."

Injury updates: Offensive lineman Torian White will have a procedure later this month to correct a heart rhythm problem. He is cleared to practice until then and is not expected to miss time after the minor procedure...Receiver Devin Lucien sat out of practice for the second consecutive day with a concussion. There is no timetable for his return...running back Damien Thigpen, who has a history of hamstring issues, did light work on the side after feeling tightness in his lower body, Mora said.

 

Very little live hitting at UCLA camp

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
7:01
PM PT
SAN BERNARDINO -- UCLA came on to the field in full pads for its training camp session Tuesday at Cal State San Bernardino, but about halfway through coach Jim Mora had everyone shed their shoulder pads and the Bruins practiced that way for the final hour or so.

Temperatures were again soaring during the late-morning practice, but taking off the pads had nothing to do with the heat, Mora said. It was a planned move to give the team a live, goal-line drill early on and then have a lighter practice the rest of the way.

"It’s getting to the point in camp -- this is our 13th day in the heat -- I wanted to give them a chance to recover a little bit," Mora said. "That’s why we came out early and we’ll come out tomorrow and have two."

The live goal-line drill was only the second time Mora has had a fully live session during camp and he said there probably won't be many more. He's hoping to stay as healthy as possible for the Aug. 30 season opener at Rice and will not have any live scrimmaging before then. There is no fall scrimmage planned this year.

It's a major shift from spring football, when the Bruins were going live on a regular basis.

"The design was to have a physical, intense, lot of live in spring and kind of set the tempo that way and then come out here and be physical, but not necessarily take guys to the ground," Mora said. "When you say live to a football player, it’s hard to say live but don’t cut block, don’t tackle low, don’t take a shot on your teammate. Your mindset changes when you say live."

The idea is to avoid injuries, but it comes with the risk of being rusty when the games begin. Mora said the "thud periods" are all about trying to find a balance of proper tackling technique, while staying safe.

"The term 'thud' for us indicates that we’re going to stay on our feet, try to finish with our chest on you, backs know you are going to get hit so get in a position where you can deliver a blow or accept a blow and protect the football, but we’re trying to stay on our feet as much as we can," he said.

"I don’t think you necessarily have to take a guy to the ground to put yourself in position to finish the tackle ... I think that if we do a good job of focusing through the end of the play, necessarily taking a guy to the ground, we’re going to get the best of both worlds right there."

Other notes from Tuesday:

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UCLA preseason preview: Receivers

July, 28, 2012
7/28/12
3:31
PM PT
With UCLA training camp set to begin Aug. 4 at Cal State San Bernardino, we're taking a preseason look at the roster and breaking down the Bruins position by position.

We looked at quarterbacks and the offensive line earlier this week. We stick with the offense and check in a group that must replace its two most productive members over the last three season: Receivers.

DEPTH CHART AT THE END OF SPRING PRACTICE:

X (receiver)
Jerry Johnson (6-3, 211, Sr.) OR
Devin Lucien (6-0, 200, Fr.)
Sam Handler (5-10, 195, Fr.)

Y (receiver)
Joseph Fauria (6-7, 255, Sr.) OR
Darius Bell (5-10, 205, Jr.)
John Young (6-6, 255, Fr.)
Jordan Barrett (6-2, 255, Jr.)
Jackson Reeder (6-3, 194, Fr.)

F (receiver)
Ricky Marvray (5-11, 192, Jr.)
Jordon James (5-8, 193, So.)
Roosevelt Davis (5-6, 155, Fr.)

Z (receiver)
Shaq Evans (6-1, 201,Jr.)
Jerry Rice, Jr. (5-11, 185, Jr.)
Logan Sweet (6-0, 185, Fr.)
Tyler Scott (6-2, 205, Fr.)

PROJECTED OPENING-DAY DEPTH CHART:

X (receiver)
Jerry Johnson (6-3, 211, Sr.)
Devin Lucien (6-0, 200, Fr.)
Javon Williams (6-5, 180, Fr.)
Sam Handler (5-10, 195, Fr.)
Christoph Bono (6-1, 162, Fr.)

Y (receiver)
Joseph Fauria (6-7, 255, Sr.)
Darius Bell (5-10, 205, Jr.)
John Young (6-6, 255, Fr.)
Jordan Barrett (6-2, 255, Jr.)
Jackson Reeder (6-3, 194, Fr.)

F (receiver)
Jordon James (5-8, 193, So.)
Ricky Marvray (5-11, 192, Jr.)
Kenny Walker (5-10, 171, Fr.)
Ahmaad Harris (5-6, 155, Fr.)
Roosevelt Davis (5-6, 155, Fr.)

Z (receiver)
Shaq Evans (6-1, 201, Jr.)
Jordan Payton (6-2, 214, Fr.)
Jerry Rice, Jr. (5-11, 185, Jr.)
Tyler Scott (6-2, 205, Fr.)
Logan Sweet (6-0, 185, Fr.)

KEY LOSSES:
Nelson Rosario, 64 catches, 1,161 yards, 5 TDs. Graduated.
Taylor Embree, 20 catches, 228 yards, 2 TDs. Graduated.
Josh Smith, 11 catches, 243 yards, 1 TD. Graduated.
Cory Harkey, 1 catch, 10 yards. Graduated.
Anthony Barr, 3 catches, 16 yards, 1 TD. Switched to linebacker.

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Five things to watch: UCLA spring scrimmage

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
2:55
PM PT
Jim MoraPeter Yoon/ESPNLA.com One thing Jim Mora will be watching Saturday is how his players adapt to a different environment.

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA's spring football practice session will end Saturday with the annual spring scrimmage game at the Rose Bowl. The action begins at 5 p.m.

With a new coaching staff and positional battles across the board, there will be plenty of newness on the field, so here are a few pointers on what to look for during the game:

1. THE QUARTERBACKS
They have been the most-watched players since the beginning of spring practice, so why should the spring finale be any different?

Coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone have yet to pick a starter for next season, and you have to figure performance in this scrimmage will be a large portion of each quarterback's grade when it comes to making a call.

Mora would not divulge how the reps would be divided among the quarterbacks, but you have to guess Brett Hundley, Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince will get the bulk. Prince has been hampered by a sore shoulder over the last two weeks, so he could be limited.

The keys to determining who plays best go beyond who is able to complete passes. The coaches are looking for command of the offense and good decision making as well as play-making ability.

"There are a lot of decisions that need to be made by the quarterback in this offense," Mazzone said. "Before the snap, at the snap, after the snap. You’re looking for how guys make those decisions under fire. And you are looking for a guy who can make those decisions then make the throws that need to be made. And you want a guy who can create plays when there’s no plays there to be made."

2. THE TEMPO
The high-paced offense has been one of the hot topics all spring and the Bruins will put it on full display Saturday. They are running a no-huddle offense with the plays coming in from the sideline and the quarterbacks calling them from behind center.

After each play the offense scrambles to the line and resets to do it all over. This is a far cry from the methodical, clock grinding Pistol offense UCLA ran the last two seasons, so it will be a change for the players to play at this accelerated pace for the first time in game-like conditions.

Also worth noting is whether or not the defense can keep pace. The Bruis struggled mightily last season against high-paced teams such as Houston, Arizona and Oregon. The Bruins defense seemed lost early in the spring,but has come on strong over the last couple of weeks so it will be interesting to see which unit deals best with the high pace.

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2014 TEAM LEADERS

PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
B. Hundley81576863
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
P. Perkins633044.82
B. Hundley29742.61
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
J. Payton1926614.01
D. Fuller14835.90
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense159288447
TEAMPFPAMARGIN
Scoring30246