UCLA: Keenan Allen

Pac-12 leads all-under-25 NFL team

February, 18, 2014
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com wanted to make a list of up-and-coming NFL players, so he tapped an all-under-25 NFL team, and nine of his 26 selections played in the Pac-12.

Not only that, the conference, stereotyped as offense-first, had just as many defensive players -- four -- as offense. And his omission of Star Lotulelei, the former Utah defense tackle now starring for the Carolina Panthers, is notable because he finished fourth in the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year vote.

Further, these nine guys came from seven conference teams, so this isn't just about USC's pipeline of five-star recruits to the NFL.

Here's the Pac-12 players on his team.

QB Andrew Luck (Stanford), Indianapolis Colts
WR Keenan Allen (California), San Diego Chargers
OT Tyron Smith (USC), Dallas Cowboys
OG David DeCastro (Stanford), Pittsburgh Steelers

DT Jurrell Casey (USC), Tennessee Titans
LB Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State), Cincinnati Bengals
LB Kiko Alonso (Oregon), Buffalo Bills
CB Desmond Trufant (Washington), Atlanta Falcons

Special teams
P Johnny Hekker (Oregon State), St. Louis Rams

Of these players, only Burfict and Allen received high recruiting rankings from ESPN.com. Burfict was the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker and Allen was the nation's No. 5 "athlete." ESPN.com ranked Luck the nation's seventh-best quarterback in 2008.

Casey, DeCastro, Trufant and Alonso rated as solid to off-the-radar prospects in most recruiting rankings.

So, again, the best response when Pac-12 teams don't rate highly in recruiting rankings to shrug and move on with your day.

Pac-12 lunch links

December, 30, 2013
She could not explain in so many words, but she felt that those who prepare for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy.

Penalties finally bite UCLA in loss to Cal

October, 7, 2012
Penalties have officially become a problem for UCLA.

The Bruins racked up 12 penalties for 99 yards during their 43-17 loss at California on Saturday and now lead the nation in both number of penalties (53) and yards penalized (519).

UCLA has lingered near the tops of those lists for most of the season, but before Saturday it hadn't really been an issue because the Bruins were winning in spite of them. Against Oregon State, UCLA's only other loss, the Bruins had season lows of seven penalties and 56 yard penalized.

But Saturday, penalties became an issue on both sides of the ball, helping to extend California drives and serving to stop UCLA drives on offense. Coach Jim Mora said he knew a reduction in penalties would be needed at Cal and so it was more disappointing that the numbers stayed high.

"It wasn't really a concern to me until (Saturday) night," Mora said. "The reason it became a concern was because we put an emphasis on it."

The Bruins committed two personal fouls, a facemask, an illegal block and three defensive offsides Saturday, and several were critical.

In the third quarter, Cassius Marsh jumped offsides on a third-and-2 play and gave Cal a first down. A sack on the next play set up a second-and-21, but a facemask by Aaron Hester gave Cal another first down. Two plays later, Zach Maynard hit Keenan Allen for a 34-yard touchdown that gave the Golden Bears a 29-14 lead.

With about nine minutes left to play and UCLA trailing 29-17, quarterback Brett Hundley completed a pass to Johnathan Franklin to the California 8-yard line, but a holding call wiped it out. Instead of knocking on the door for a touchdown that would have gotten the Bruins to within five points, they faced a second-and-16.

Two plays later, Cal defensive back Michael Lowe intercepted a Hundley pass and returned it 57 yards to set up the game-sealing score. But it wasn't the timing of the penalties that had Mora as concerned as the nature of them, he said.

"If we have a hold or a facemask, first of all, are we up against a guy that maybe we're overmatched?," Mora said. "If that's not the case then are we not doing things technique-wise to get ourselves in position to avoid the penalty?

"I felt like some of the penalties that we had ... we just weren't using the appropriate technique that we should use to get ourselves in position to not have to hold and not have to grab a facemask or not have to reach out and trip somebody or something like that."

The solution? Better coaching.

"It's just something we've got to continue to stress and we will continue to stress," Mora said.

Video: Jim Mora post-practice on Wednesday

October, 3, 2012
LOS ANGELES--UCLA coach Jim Mora met with members of the media Wednesday after practice and talked about the progress of linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, preparing for California receiver Keenan Allen, the tempo of UCLA's offense and the importance of establishing a running game.

First look: UCLA vs. Cal

October, 2, 2012
The UCLA Bruins will visit California Saturday for a 7 p.m. game to be televised by the Pac-12 Network and the Bruins will be looking to do something they haven’t done in 14 years: Win in Berkeley.

Memorial Stadium has been UCLA’s house of horrors with six consecutive losses there by a combined score of 222-129, including a 35-7 debacle the last time the Bruins visited Cal in 2010.

If UCLA is to end that streak and win at Cal for the first time since 1998, this appears to be as good a year as any to do so. UCLA (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) is back in the top 25 rankings and is 2-0 on the road this season while Cal (1-4, 0-2) appears to be a team on the verge of falling apart.

It’s not quite that simple, however, as the Golden Bears remain a worrisome foe. Their record doesn’t look that great, but they took No. 12 Ohio State to the wire in Columbus, Ohio, stayed close to No. 13 USC for three quarters and were within a field goal of Arizona State with less than 10 minutes to play last week before losing, 27-17.

“They are a team that is very dangerous,” said UCLA coach Jim Mora. “They do a lot of things offensively that give you problems -- a lot of different things that you have to prepare for. They’ve always played good defense because they’ve always had a good defensive line.”

On offense, California has plenty of weapons. Receiver Keenan Allen, an all-conference selection last year, is the best of the bunch. Allen leads the team with 33 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns receiving. At 6-3, 210 pounds, he has the size to create problems even for UCLA’s big cornerbacks and has hands good enough to have him closing in on Cal’s school record for career receptions.

Allen also has good chemistry with quarterback Zack Maynard, who happens to be his half brother. Maynard has been plagued by inconsistency, but can be very good as evidenced by his 2,990 yards passing last season. He also has the ability to run which is something the UCLA defense will certainly be aware of after giving up long touchdown runs to quarterbacks twice already this season.

Maynard had a 39-yard run last year against UCLA. Running backs Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson split most of the running load. Sofele is shifty and strong and has 333 yards rushing so far this season after logging 1,322 last season. Anderson is more of a power back who has 243 yards rushing.

“A lot of times when you face a team like Cal that gives you a lot of different looks, it’s really important that you go back to basics on defense and take care of your own shop,” Mora said. “Sometimes you can get into trouble when you try to find an answer for every single thing that they do. Sometimes when you do that you come up with no answers so you have to be guarded against doing that.”

Cal’s vulnerability this season has come on defense. The Golden Bears are giving up 174.8 yards rushing per game this season, which is last among Pac-12 teams. The fact that three of the four leading tacklers for Cal are defensive backs indicates that things are amiss in the front seven of Cal’s 3-4 scheme and UCLA should look to exploit that with Johnathan Franklin, the nation’s third leading rusher with 697 yards.

Cal has given up at least 27 points in every game this season and is 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring defense having allowed 30.2 points per game. That bodes well for a UCLA team that is third in the conference in scoring with 36.8 points per game and leads the conference in total offense with 558.4 yards per game.

First look: California at UCLA

October, 25, 2011
Another week, another top-notch pass offense standing in UCLA's way.

So far this season, UCLA has faced four of the top-20 passing offenses in the nation and gets a fifth Saturday when California visits the Rose Bowl for a 4 p.m. Pac-12 game.

That means that if UCLA is going to get its season back on track, the Bruins will have to find a way to contain California quarterback Zach Maynard and receiver Keenan Allen, who lead a Golden Bears offense that ranks No. 19 in the nation with 293 yards passing per game.

CalUCLAAnd not only that, but the short-handed Bruins must also figure out a way to decipher a California defense that is fourth in the Pac-12 in total defense and leads the conference in pass defense.

"We’ve got our work cut out for us," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said.

Allen, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore, is among the top receivers in the nation. A freshman All-American last season, he leads the country this season with 129.43 yards receiving per game and is eighth with 60 receptions. Maynard doesn't quite fit into the elite group of quarterback UCLA has faced this season, but he is improving in his first year as a starter and has passed for 1,840 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Last year when these teams met, Cal dominated with a running attack that gained 304 yards rushing in a 35-7 Golden Bears victory. Shane Vereen led that charge with 151 yards. Vereen is now with the New England Patriots, but Isi Sofele, who gained 80 yards in 13 carries in last year's game, is back and is having a strong season. He's averaging 89.57 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-12.

The Bruins are No. 106 in the nation in total defense, giving up 436.14 yards per game, so facing such a balanced offense could lead to more problems, but it's the other side of the ball that has Neuheisel most concerned.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, brother of UCLA linebacker Eric, is among the top defensive players in the conference, if not the country. He is third in the conference with eight tackles per game and is a key reason why Cal gives up only 115 yards rushing per game.

"They've got, in my mind, the best defensive player in the conference in Mychal Kendricks," Neuheisel said. "I think he is spectacular football player."

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