UCLA: Tyler Gonzalez

Fairbairn seeking a spot in UCLA kicking tradition

August, 28, 2012
8/28/12
3:47
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- With a name like his, it's no wonder John Christian Ka'iminoeauloameka'ikeokekumupa'a Fairbairn ended up at UCLA.

His Hawaiian first name means "To seek wisdom and talents with knowledge and a firm foundation" and when you are a kicker, there are few schools better than UCLA to do just that.

Fairbairn, a true freshman, is slated to kick field goals and extra points for UCLA when the Bruins open the season Thursday at Rice. A touted recruit, he hopes to continue the tradition of strong UCLA kickers, joining the likes of John Lee, Chris Sailer, Justin Medlock and Kai Forbath in the run of Bruins' elite.

"That was definitely a reason why I wanted to come here," said Fairbairn, who attended Punahou High in Hawaii. "Those guys have all helped me and they were a big influence. I went to Sailer’s camp twice and he helped me a lot and I owe him a lot."

Fairbairn goes by the shortened version of his first name, Ka'imi. That means "seeker" and while he is seeking to join that exclusive list of kickers, it's clearly too early to put him in that same class just yet. Still, just by winning the job he's at least starting off on the same track. Lee, Sailer, Medlock and Forbath were all four-year starters for UCLA.

But winning the job is only the first step of continuing the legacy. All four of the aforementioned also went on to earn All-American honors of some sort and Forbath won the Lou Groza Award for nation's top kicker in 2009. Fairbairn has yet to set foot on a field for a college game.

"I don't see it as pressure," Fairbairn said. "It's more of an honor to be recruited here as a kicker with that kind of history here. Obviously, I want to do well. Not only for me, but for my team. And even better if I can carry on the tradition."

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Grades: Oregon 49, UCLA 31

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
11:33
PM PT
GradePASSING ATTACK
Kevin Prince completed 13 of 26 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He was hot and cold, however, missing badly on several passes and making other that were nice. Nelson Rosario had six catches for 98 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown catch at the end of the game.

GradeRUSHING ATTACK
Derrick Coleman broke one long run, but the Bruins never really seemed to get their ground game on track. they had 160 yards, which is 30 yards below their season average, but coughed up the game with three fumbles on running plays. Oregon turned those into 21 points.

GradeIN THE TRENCHES
A very average day for both lines. the defensive front four had some standout moments and hurried the quarterback effectively, but gave up way too much against the run. On offense, the line gave up four sacks, equaling the season-high they gave up last week against USC.

GradeDEFENSE
You can't get a very good grade when you give up 571 total yards, including a season-high 352 on the ground. The Bruins did score a defensive touchdown on Patrick Larimore's interception return and held Oregon to six of 17 third down conversions. Unfortunately Oregon converted four fourth downs, including two for touchdowns.

GradeSPECIAL TEAMS
Another solid night of punting for Jeff Locke, who averaged 48.2 yards on four punts and put two inside the 20. His kickoffs were a bit shaky, however. Tyler Gonzalez drilled a 44-yard field goal on his only attempt. Taylor Embree had his best punt return of the season, but Josh Smith couldn't get going on kick returns. Punt coverage team was outstanding, but kickoff coverage gave up a big 40-yard return.

GradeCOACHING
This one has nothing to do with game strategy, play calling or schemes, but rather class and integrity, which is how Rick Neuheisel has handled a very difficult week. He's as genuine a person as you'll find in the coaching profession and we don't have the heart to send him out with anything less than a perfect grade.

It's all academic for 13 Bruins

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
6:29
PM PT
UCLA running back Malcolm Jones heads a list of 13 Bruins football players who earned Pac-12 all-academic honors, the conference announced Thursday.

Jones, a sophomore with a 3.20 GPA, was named to the first team. F-back Anthony Barr and punter Jeff Locke earned second-team honors. Barr has a 3.14 GPA and Locke, a first-team selection in 2009 and 2010, has a 3.63 GPA.

Ten UCLA players earned honorable mention nods: quarterback Kevin Prince, kicker Tyler Gonzalez, linebackers Sean Westgate, Eric Kendricks, Phil Ruhl, Aramide Olaniyan and Jared Koster, long snapper Kevin McDermott, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa and offensive lineman Chris Ward.

Practice report: Thursday quick hits

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
9:48
PM PT
UCLA finished it's bye week practice slate with another day in full pads that was capped with a live scrimmage between the scout teams.

Coach Rick Neuheisel said he was satisfied with what the team accomplished during the off week and got a good vibe from the team after sitting on last week's comeback victory over Washington State.

"I thought it was a really good week in terms of fundamentally, in terms of getting guys healthy and getting guys to look toward the future of the second half with the right mindset with respect to what is going to be required for us to compete the way we need to and be successful," Neuheisel said.

A few tidbits:
  • Brett Hundley ran the two-minute drill at the end of practice and completed seven of nine passes, including a touchdown to Corey Harkey on the final play. He appeared calm for someone running the drill for the first time and his passes were on the money for the most part. His two incomplete passes were a drop by Josh Smith and a spike to kill the clock. "What I know about Brett Hundley is that it’s not too big for him," Neuheisel said. "I don’t think the stage will--he’ll get out there and there will be some butterflies and there will be some plays that won’t go exactly as planned but I think he’ll respond and he’ll play really well if called upon."
  • Receiver Randall Carroll was getting some work with the defensive backs during seven-on-seven drills, going so far as to change jerseys into a the defensive blue rather than the offense's white. Carroll, who played defensive back in high school and was recruited as a defensive back to USC, said he's getting ready in case of an emergency because the Bruins have some injury issues in the defensive backfield. "I always wanted to try and play both, " Carroll said. "There is a chance I could play in the dime package. So I’m just getting more work as the days go on and then next year hopefully it’ll expand to more playing full time on both sides."
  • With some injury concerns on the offensive line, Wade Yandall got many of the reps first team reps and at strong side guard this week. Yandall, a redshirt freshman, has yet to play in a game, but could be called upon soon. "Hopefully this week has made an impression on the coaches and I can just be consistent and doing what I’m asked to do and hopefully I get to play next week," Yandall said. "A lot of times, I’ll show flashes of doing good things, but at the same time I’m not consistent with it. I've got to step up to that." Yandall had some opportunities during training camp, but that lack of consistency kept him from cracking the lineup. Neuheisel said he's getting closer. "It’s amazing when you give guys a chance to get up there with the first team again, how they respond after being away," Neuheisel said.
  • Kicker Tyler Gonzalez wasn't needed in the two-minute drill because the offense scored a touchdown, but he looked very good during warmups and the kicking drills at the start of practice. He made four of four attempts, including one from 50 yards.
  • Offensive lineman Albert Cid did not dress for practice for the second consecutive day. Cid left the field Tuesday complaining of a shortness of breath and is being held out for precautionary reasons.
  • Cornerback Sheldon Price, out the last two weeks with a sprained knee, was still wearing a brace and was in shorts and shoulder pads, but was more active in his work on the side. He was running forward and backward and also making some cuts.
  • Receiver Nelson Rosario (sprained foot) did not dress for practice but did some light running on the side. Receiver Shaquelle Evans (concussion), safeties Tony Dye (neck) and Alex Mascarenas (concussion) also did not dress for practice.
  • The defense dominated the live scout team scrimmage, with linebacker Aaron Wallace particularly impressive. Wallace had a couple of virtual sacks and at least two other tackles for a loss. Defensive end Sam Tai also had a few nice plays and defensive tackle Brandon Willis was a run-stuffing machine in the middle. Safety Anthony Thompson had an interception. The offense completed two long passes: One from Christoph Bono to Logan Sweet for a touchdown and another from Darius Bell to Jery Rice, Jr. Still, the defense dominated most of the scrimmage. "Looked like defense had their way today," Neuheisel said. "We didn’t do a very good job of pass blocking so I’d give the nod to the defense."

Video: In the huddle with Tyler Gonzalez

October, 12, 2011
10/12/11
6:46
AM PT
Walk-on senior Tyler Gonzalez went from soccer team manager to UCLA's starting placekicker in about a month. He played for the first time Saturday, kicking two extra points during UCLA's 28-25 victory over Washington State.

Here, he talks about the experience, his journey to the football team and his duties as soccer team manager (Hint: yes, he did the laundry).

Upon further review: Neuheisel on Wazzu

October, 9, 2011
10/09/11
7:30
PM PT
Coach Rick Neuheisel held his weekly Sunday conference call with reporters to discuss UCLA's 28-25 victory Saturday night against Washington State.

He said quarterback Richard Brehaut would probably be out anywhere form three to six weeks because of a broken fibula, but remembered that Brehaut rebounded quickly from a sprained ankle during training camp.

"The last time I was told he was hurt and was going to be down for a while, he was back in two days," Neuheisel said. "This is not a two-day injury, but this is a motivated young man who is going to do everything to get back as soon as he can."

Neuheisel also reported that defensive back Jamie Graham has an MCL injury and will be out several weeks. He said it doesn't look as if Graham will require surgery.

Graham, a transfer from Vanderbilt, missed the first four games this season while recovering from surgery on his right knee.

Receiver Shaquelle Evans, injured on what proved to be the game-winning touchdown reception, has a laceration on his face, but should be fine, Neuheisel said.

Other highlights from the call:

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Neuheisel: Tyler Gonzalez to kick Saturday

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
7:46
PM PT
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel confirmed Thursday that walk-on Tyler Gonzalez will be his kicker for extra-point attempts and short field goals, replacing Jeff Locke.

Gonzalez is the former team manger for the men's soccer team who joined the Bruins three weeks ago when injuries depleted the UCLA kicking corps. Kip Smith, the starter, and Joe Roberts, the backup, have both been out because of injuries. Locke, who is the punter and kickoff specialist, took over the placekicking, but has missed three of his last four extra-point attempts.

Locke said Wednesday that he expected to lose that part of his job and Neuheisel confirmed that Thursday.

"We’re going to let Tyler have a shot at least in the short stuff and we’ll see how it plays itself out," Neuheisel said. "It’s a heck of a story now from soccer manager to starting kicker."

Neuheisel said Locke would still handle longer field goals, saying that "in my mind, probably 40" yards is the limit for Gonzalez, but that Gonzalez, a fifth-year senior who has not kicked since his senior year in high school, would kick the short ones even if it was in a game-winning situation.

"If it comes down to it, go make the kick, man," Neuheisel said. "Every great movie needs a great ending so let’s create it."

Asked if he thought Gonzalez could handle the magnitude of such a situation, Neuheisel laughed.

"I think it will be more me being calm than him," Neuheisel said. "I think he’s going to be fabulous."

Neuheisel said he was making the move not because of a mistrust in Locke, but merely to lighten Locke's load. He was fourth in the nation in punting last season with a 45.84 punting average and Neuheisel wants Locke to focus on that part of his game.

"I don’t lack confidence in Jeff, I'm just taking it off of him," Neuheisel said. "I want him to go back to being the best punter in the country."

Walk-on Gonzalez expected to kick Saturday

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
8:37
PM PT
After missing three of his last four extra-point attempts, Jeff Locke said Wednesday he expected to be removed from the short kicking duties and that walk-on Tyler Gonzalez will get those opportunities Saturday against Washington State.

Locke, who also serves as punter and kickoff specialist, was forced into field goal kicking duties because of injuries to Kip Smith and Joe Roberts. He started strong, making field goals of 51 and 49 yards against Texas, but has struggled in the last two games.

"I’ve missed three extra points in two games. You can’t do that at the college level," Locke said. "You’ve got to give another guy a shot. I wish I would have come through and I haven’t felt the best the last couple of days about it, but it is what it is now."

Gonzalez was the student manager for the UCLA men's soccer team when the football team began having injury problems among its kicking corps. He went through a tryout period and has progressively improved. He will kick extra points and short field goals, though Locke would probably still get longer field goals.

"Everyone knows Tyler doesn’t have the strongest leg," Locke said. "He’s not the biggest guy so I think definitely super long field goals I’d still be thrown in the mix for that."

Gonzalez made three of five field-goal attempts in practice Wednesday. One of them hit the upright and probably would have been good if not for a goal post that was leaning significantly to the left. He also made a field goal to end the two-minute drill.

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Practice report: Tuesday quick hits

October, 4, 2011
10/04/11
9:19
PM PT
The UCLA Bruins returned to the practice field Tuesday, licking their wounds from a 45-19 loss at Stanford and looking ahead to a game against Washington State that appears it will be much tougher than anyone might have predicted before the season.

The Cougars are 3-1 and coming off of an impressive comeback victory at Colorado. That's actually good news for UCLA, which practiced as if they were not taking the Cougars lightly even though Washington State went 5-32 the previous three seasons.

"I think our guys came to work and are looking forward to what promises to be a big-time game against a hot team in Washington State," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "I know that they’re riding high and I know that their confidence is brimming because it’s been lean for them over the past several years and they’ve believed in Coach [Paul] Wulff’s mantra that the thing was going to turn and it’s turning. So this is going to be an inspired team that comes in."

Neuheisel is the right guy to be coaching in this game. He never has lost a game against Washington State having gone 8-0 against the Cougars in his coaching stops at UCLA, Washington and Colorado.

"All those games in the past are in the past," Neuheisel said. "It’s all about this game and this particular UCLA team against their particular Washington State team."

A few tidbits from practice:

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Five things to watch: Texas at UCLA

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
6:47
AM PT
1. QUARTERBACK SHUFFLES




Both teams enter the game with question marks at quarterback. Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut have been in a six-week competition for the starting job, yet neither has been able to claim it outright. Prince, who appears to be the choice to start against Texas, can't stay on the field because of injuries. Brehaut has shown flashes of excellence, but sprinkles in too much inconsistency. They may split time or alternate or one may play the whole game. Oh, and don't forget true freshman Brett Hundley. He's supposed to have a package of plays ready to run, but we haven't yet seen it in a game. Across the field, last year's starter Garrett Gilbert was replaced after a game and a half by the tandem of Case McCoy and David Ash. McCoy,the brother of former Texas quarterback Colt, is the more seasoned of the two, but Ash may be the more talented and is definitely the more athletic. He's only a true freshman, however, so don't expect him to have everything down just yet. They are slated to split time.

2. CHESS MATCH




This game will be far different from last year's 34-12 UCLA victory because of coaching staff overhauls on both teams. The head coaches, Rick Neuheisel and Mack Brown are the same, but both teams have new offensive and defensive coordinators. That means you can throw last year's film out the window because both teams are running different schemes. UCLA's offensive coordinator Mike Johnson is adding a pro-style section to the Pistol playbook and seeking more balance. Texas co-offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite are trying to add a power running attack. UCLA defensive coordinator Joe Tresey is looking for a fast, aggressive tempo while Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is looking to confuse and dictate the opposing offense. But with so much newness on both teams, they are both still trying to find their identities. That means the normal cat and mouse game between the coaches will be at a heightened level for this game as they try to read one another.

3. PISTOL WHIPPED

When these teams met last year, UCLA rushed for 264 yards--the most rushing yards by any team against Texas last season. UCLA's Pistol attack, a zone read-based offense, was so effective that the Bruins needed to pass only nine times for 27 yards and still won, 34-12. The Bruins still use the Pistol, though it is only a component of the offense this year, and will almost assuredly try to see if it can be effective again. The Bruins will want to control the clock with running backs Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman doing the bulk of the work. Quarterback Kevin Prince had 50 yards against Texas last year and is also an effective runner. Expect to see more of Malcolm Jones and Jordon James, too, especially if UCLA runs 56 times like they did last year. Texas is certainly studying what went wrong against UCLA's run game and it's defense, currently giving up only 86.5 yards rushing per game, will be out to shut down the UCLA backs.

4. KICKING GAME

UCLA's kicking game is a bit of a question mark as we head toward game day. Field goal kicker Kip Smith made two field goals last week against San Jose State, but sometime between Saturday and Tuesday he began feeling tightness in his kicking leg. He sat out almost all week of practice and with backup Joe Roberts also injured, coach Rick Neuheisel brought in soccer team manager Tyler Gonzalez to try out. All this after Smith had seemingly turned a corner after struggling through training camp. The oddsmakers have Texas as a 3.5-point favorite, so a field goal could very well play a major role in the game. Punter Jeff Locke would be the field goal kicker if Smith can't go and Gonzalez would probably be available as an emergency replacement. But Locke has been off a bit in his top skill. The Pac-10 leader with a punting average of 45.84 last season, his average is only 37.4 so far this season. Locke also handles kickoffs, but none of his six kickoffs went for touchbacks last week.

5. GETTING DEFENSIVE

UCLA's defense has been a major disappointment thus far, giving up 469 total yards against Houston and 202 yards rushing against San Jose State, one of the worst rushing teams in the nation last season. They've had problems with missed tackles and letting quarterbacks scramble for big yards--especially on third downs. That combination could spell trouble against a Texas running attack that is averaging 197 yards a game this season. Both Texas quarterbacks are athletic enough to do damage with their legs and David Ash in particular is a legitimate running threat. Leading rusher Malcolm Brown is the right combination of size and speed to cause problems for a struggling run defense. The Bruins have vowed to play with more energy and passion this week and must keep containment in the pocket and also shore up some holes in the middle of the defensive line in order to prevent Texas from gaining control of the clock and the game.

Video: Neuheisel's Thursday practice report

September, 15, 2011
9/15/11
4:34
PM PT
UCLA had a short, light practice in shorts and shoulder pads in anticipation for Saturday's game against Texas at the Rose Bowl. Coach Rick Neuheisel moved the practice up three hours to get the players more rest in advance of the 12:30 p.m. game.

His post-game chat with the media was also short. Some of the highlights:
  • Quarterback Kevin Prince is 100 percent, but neither he nor Richard Brehaut was named the starter.
  • Kicker Kip Smith sat out of practice with punter Jeff Locke taking the field goal at the end of the two-minute drill. He made the 35-yarder, but Neuheisel said he still expected Smith to be ready.
  • Soccer team manager Tyler Gonzalez continued his tryout at kicker and made two of three attempts in practice, but Neuheisel said he hasn't decided on whether Gonzalez passed. He said he would decide before he submits the roster for Saturday's game. Presumably that decision will be based on Smith's health. Should Gonzalez be added to the roster, Locke would almost surely handle the field goals and Gonzalez would be there as an emergency backup.

All of Neuheisel's comments are here:

Soccer manager tries out at kicker

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
7:40
PM PT
The hip flexor injury to kicker Kip Smith appears to be giving the UCLA coaching staff cause for a little bit more concern than they are letting on because on Wednesday they had men's soccer team manager Tyler Gonzalez trying out for the job.

Gonzalez, a senior who last kicked at Fullerton High school, kicked early in practice, making an extra-point attempt and a 40-yard field goal, but also had a 30-yard attempt blocked by Joe Fauria. He finished practice with a 40-yard field goal at the end of the two-minute drill, drawing a rousing ovation from the team.

"We’re just taking a look around," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "By rule we can have a couple of day tryouts."

Because Gonzalez is not an official member of the team, he was not available to talk to the media, but Neuheisel says he is roommates with one of the football team's student assistants. He was an all-CIF soccer player in high school but has not played soccer for UCLA.

Smith, the redshirt freshman who made two field goals Saturday during UCLA's 27-17 victory over San Jose State, did not dress for practice Wednesday. He left practice Tuesday after trying one kick and complaining of tightness in his kicking leg.

Neuheisel said Smith would rest again Thursday, but that he was hopeful to have him available for Saturday's game against Texas.

"We’ll see how it responds to treatment but my expectation is that he’ll be ready to go," Neuheisel said. "I don’t know that we’ll practice tomorrow. We’ll test it out before game time, but I don’t know that we’ll do anything tomorrow."

If Smith is unable to go, it leaves punter Jeff Locke as the only other legitimate option among players on the current roster. Backup Joe Roberts is out because of a quad injury.

Locke, who also handles kickoffs, has been reluctant to add field-goal kicking to his duties. He kicked Wednesday, however, hooking an extra point wide right before making an extra point, a 30-yard field goal and a 40-yard field goal.

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