Mora says UCLA won't wait to win
LOS ANGELES -- Two days after landing a top-20 recruiting class in his first season as UCLA Bruins football coach, Jim Mora says he thinks UCLA could be competitive right away.
Speaking to Mark Willard and John Ireland on 710 ESPN, Mora said it was an exciting time for UCLA football because the program is moving in the right direction.
"We're certainly not going to wait to win," Mora said. "There is no five-year plan, there is no two-year plan. ... We're not going to put any limitations on what we can do and the governor is off. We're going full throttle."
Mora was hired in December, taking over a team that finished the season 6-8 after losing the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. With only six weeks before national signing day, he was able to assemble a staff of top-notch recruiters and signed 26 players in a class that ranked no. 19 in ESPN.com's national class recruiting rankings.
On the heels of that class, UCLA sent out season-ticket renewal packages and Mora included a personal video message saying that the team would be fun to watch, would put together a lot of wins and make Bruins fans proud.
Under previous coach Rick Neuheisel, the Bruins went 21-29 over four seasons and finished eighth or lower in the Pac-12 Conference in three of those four years. Mora pointed out the Atlanta Falcons went 11-5 and advanced to the NFC championship game in his first season as coach there after finishing 5-11 the season before.
"This train is moving now," Mora said. "This train is going down the tracks and people need to jump on board and ride with us because we're going to go do some pretty special things here in the next couple of years."
One of the key decisions Mora will have to make right away is to identify the starting quarterback. Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, who split starting duties last season, will both be back as seniors.
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Brett Hundley, a touted freshman who redshirted last season, will have a year of seasoning under his belt and Mora also signed two highly-recruited quarterbacks in T.J. Millweard and Devin Fuller as part of his inaugural incoming freshman class.
"That's a position that we'd like to identify a guy as soon as we can so that our players understand and our fans understand what direction we're going in at that position," Mora said. "I think it's critical that you identify the leader and the leader of you team is typically the quarterback."
He added that he has no bias against playing younger players and that the competition for quarterback -- as it will for all positions -- will go to the player who wins the job in camp.
"I have no problem starting a young guy if he's the best guy or if he looks like he's going to be the best guy with a couple of weeks of seasoning," Mora said. "I can tell you this, we won't be flip-flopping. It won't be one guy one week and the next guy the next week. We're going to identify the guy and we're going to go with him."
Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com.