Tag Archives: UCLA Football

UCLA Football coach Jim Mora: “We won’t wait to win”

There is no five-year plan. There isn’t a two-year plan.

Jim L. Mora wants wins, and he wants them now.

He said as much in his interview with 710 ESPN Radio’s John Ireland and Mark Willard. According to Mora, the UCLA football train is going to move pretty damn fast:

“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.”

“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.”

Talk is cheap. As perennially depressed Bruins fans, students and alum, we pretty much hang this adage on a white-board in our offices and bedrooms, to remind us that, although the hype around our program is incredible, and there are signs of reasonable optimism, nothing is ever successful until it’s, well, actually successful.

This time, though? This time feels a little different (although many will claim to have said the same thing when Rick Neuheisel was hired back in 2008). This time, Mora has turned around a mess of a recruiting class and turned it into a top-10-worthy group of incoming freshman (and a junior college transfer). And this time, there are no emotional ties to Jim Mora, nor are there ties to UCLA on Jim Mora’s side of things.

The main thing is to get it done. He hasn’t made bold predictions, he hasn’t gone around claiming to take down football monopolies. He’s telling us what we all know is a requirement for any head coach: The goal is to win, and win now. No more favoring upperclassmen solely for the reason that they’re upperclassmen. No more giving kids second chances when they screw up.

Accountability and tough love is what this program needs, and that’s what Mora’s always been about.

Let’s just see if that translates to about eight wins in 2012.

UCLA National Signing Day Update: WRs Javon Williams, Jordan Payton will be Bruins!

(Know I’m late on the news, you guys — was in class, so please, forgive me for getting an education.)

You don’t know how hard I am trying to not type in all caps and end each sentence with at least three exclamation marks.

That’s because UCLA just picked TWO LEGITIMATE, FOUR-STAR WIDE RECEIVERS!!!!!!

That’s right; the position we were thin at in this recruiting class is the one that is going to put this class on the map. First, let’s check some Javon Williams highlights, no?

BOOM. This is a major pick-up. Dude’s a 6’5” beast at wide-out and that’s going to be a big deal considering Noel Mazzone likes to spread defenses wide and long. He’s going to help UCLA’s offense get more vertical, and if any of our three QBs from this year’s class can develop into a nice option at the position, Williams will get a ton of tosses thrown his way.

But I did say two four-star wide-outs, no? The other one? Jordan Payton who, after switching from Cal to Oregon to Washington, is now reportedly going to UCLA. Dude’s a four-star recruit and, at 6’2” with a 40-yard dash time of 4.49, he’s also going to give corners who cover him some issues. Here is a highlight tape of this guy:

And that’s from his junior year.

I think we should all be thoroughly impressed by the recruiting hall our current staff has put together. It doesn’t look like one — not one! — position was ignored in this class, and though these wide-outs committed late, it’s better late than never.

Maybe I’m just excited. I don’t know. But something tells me UCLA football has really turned a corner this time. GO BRUINS!!!!

POLL DON’T LIE: DT Ellis McCarthy

Every once in a while, I’ll present a 2012 UCLA football recruit, give reasons why he should be rated high in the context of our football program and reasons he shouldn’t be rated high. The point is to look at the context of the signing. Did we pick up a 5-star wide-out when our class already includes two of them? Did we nab a 3-star linebacker when we’re stacked with 4-star LBs?

And that’s what my job is. Your job is to give an honest assessment of the player, from a scale of 1 star to 5 stars, by voting in the poll at the bottom. Consider our current strengths and weaknesses as well as our coaching staff for the position. If you disagree with whatever reasoning I have, back your shit up in the comments.

Last kid: Devin Fuller, QB. You guys rated him an average 3.95 stars.

Today’s kid: Ellis McCarthy, DT, Monrovia, CA. Height: 6’5” … Weight: 295 lbs … 2nd-best DT in the nation

Ouch:

Ellis McCarthy is our only five-star recruit. That said, there couldn’t be a more important position to have a five-star recruit, especially here at UCLA (save for defensive end).

Why should you give him 5 stars?

McCarthy is a total freak. At his size, he’ll be one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the nation if he’s groomed correctly. Currently, Scout compares him to, guess who, Ndamukong Suh, the beastly DT out of Nebraska who’s continuing his mean-as-hell streak in Detroit with the Lions.

What’s most important, though, is that our defensive line was shoddy last year (and years prior). Our pass-rush was total trash in 2011 and it’d be nice to actually see someone get in the back-field quick enough to force some game-changing pressure on the QB. McCarthy has the size to bulldoze himself through the offensive line, and at 6’5”, he’s going to be able to get his hands up and blind most college quarterbacks.

There’s no doubt that he’s as talented as they come, and there is really no doubt that UCLA’s defensive line needs him. But …

Why should you give him 1 star?

As the case was with Devin Fuller, it’d be ridiculous to give him one star. But the issues with McCarthy are, surprisingly, more glaring than the issues with Fuller. The four-letter network’s scouting report is actually pretty scathing for a 5-star recruit. They mention his inability to explode fast enough to get off the line and beat blockers before they get in proper position. They also mention that he tends to try to get around blockers a bit too much, not something you want to see from a DT, whose job, primarily, is to clog up space in the middle, collapse the pocket, take up an extra blocker or two and allow for linebackers to close in on the back-field or to force the pocket to collapse enough so that the quarterback gets hurried and makes mistake.

Scout.com also lists an area of improvement: “Intensity/Effort.” And in case you didn’t know, “Intensity/Effort” is something we’ve been missing at UCLA for the longest time. Coach Jim Mora is definitely going to get the guys more disciplined, but does McCarthy tend to take plays off every so often, and if so, will he kick that habit?

There’s no doubt that there’s a place for McCarthy to fit in, especially since we need him, but is his work ethic a concern?

Enough from me, you guys. Your turn. Considering what I presented to you, rate Ellis McCarthy’s value to this program on a scale of 1 star to 5 stars.

National Signing Day is here! Keep up to date on this thread

Ah, February 1. The day college football fans across the country have to endure gut-wrenching, eye-gauging, sweat-till-your-head-itches misery at the hands of kids who aren’t even legally allowed to buy a cigarette (not that we’d want them to).

National Signing Day. The day that 17-year olds get to hold their own version of The Decision. Where all eyes are on them, and they can make or break (supposedly) a college football program.

Well, because I cover UCLA athletics, I think it’s only fair that I cover this, too, as it relates to UCLA. There are quite a few offers we’ve made to prospects who are either not committed to a school just yet, or to those who have had soft commitments to other, less awesome universities. Whatever it is, I’ll be around these parts starting now (yes, I know — it’s only 9 p.m.) all the way through National Signing Day 2012. (How’s that for SEO, Google?)

After I receive some news about a recruit, I will post an update on this blog post so you can see who it is we have signed. There figures to be some movement the evening before, but we’ll see what happens.

And as I wrote this blog post, we have an apparent commit. So let’s take a look to see how these things will shape up:

UPDATE: WR Kenny Walker has committed to UCLA, will sign tomorrow

Kenny Walker highlights, ladies and germs:

While those highlights are nice, it’s important to note that the context of this signing almost negates the fact that he’s a 3-star wide-out. Up until now, we hadn’t gotten as good of a commitment at WR for the class of 2012, and now that there will be future targets for either T.J. Millweard, Brett Hundley or Devin Fuller to throw to, we can breathe, but not too much — it’s still just one wide-receiver.

 

 

CBS Sports says UCLA TE Joseph Fauria and K Jeff Locke are the best NFL prospects at their position

UCLA football tight-end Joseph Fauria and kicker Jeff Locke are the No. 1 prospects, at their respective positions, in the 2013 NFL Draft, according to CBS Sports.

That’s not surprising, if you keep up with UCLA football. Fauria is a freaking animal at 6’8″ and has the athleticism of an agile 6-footer. He’s got great hands and he’s incredibly hard to take down most times. His biggest issue last season was, well, Kevin Prince throwing him the ball. Here’s a video of when he did, which resulted in two touchdowns for Fauria against Colorado:

Sure, Fauria didn’t get very many passes thrown his way (considering UCLA ran the pistol and either Kevin Prince or Jonathan Franklin/Derrick Coleman had possession), but this year figures to be different. Noel Mazzone is a pass-first coordinator and that figures to be the philosophy. Sure, tight ends aren’t something Mazzone uses too often, but considering he has an animal at that position, he’ll figure out how to pump up Fauria’s draft status.

And Jeff Locke? Oh. My. Goodness.

If you can use the words “stud” and “kicker” in the same sentence when talking about football prospects, then somewhere in that sentence, Jeff Locke has to be involved. Dude’s got a leg and though field position never mattered too much for our beloved Bruins (since they gave up scores anyway), he definitely made it difficult for offenses by nailing kicks incredibly deep. Plus, he’s seriously an All-World blocker on returns, too. Not really, but he’s feisty:

Other Bruins were reppin’, too: Jonathan Franklin is the seventh-best RB in the 2013 NFL draft, and for good reason — he was a third of the reason that UCLA’s run game was easily the team’s best attribute. Over the past two seasons at UCLA, he’s ran for nearly 2000 yards, and was 23 yards short of becoming the first Bruin to ever run for a grand back-to-back since DeShaun Foster did it in 2001-02. Patrick Larimore also made it as the sixth-best linebacker, a well-deserved honor as he was by far UCLA’s best tackler. (I know that doesn’t mean much since NO ONE AT UCLA KNEW HOW TO TACKLE, but come on!)

Hopefully, with all this euphoria surrounding UCLA football, we can get back on the field and we’ll see these bros’ draft stock rise throughout the course of the season.

(H/T: Inside UCLA with Jon Gold.)

 

POLL DON’T LIE: Devin Fuller

(Note: I’ve changed the name of this feature from “RATE THAT KID” to “POLL DON’T LIE” because 1) Rasheed Wallace is a bad-ass, and 2) “RATE THAT KID” is super lame. So is “POLL DON’T LIE” but whatever.)

Smell that, you guys? It’s that funky-ass smell you smell when things get … smelly.

That’s right — it’s a new (and our first) feature here at the Sons of Westwood. What’s a feature, you ask? It’s a series of blog posts with an overarching theme. Like Ball Don’t Lie’s Days of NBA Lives or Shutdown Corner’s Smarter Stats.

This feature is inspired by the recruiting euphoria we’re experiencing in Jim L. Mora’s first few weeks on the job.

Every once in a while, I’ll present a player, give reasons why he should be rated high and reasons he shouldn’t be rated high. The point is to look at the context of the signing. Did we pick up a 5-star wide-out when our class already includes two of them? Did we nab a 3-star linebacker when we’re stacked with 4-star LBs?

And that’s what my job is. Your job is to give an honest assessment of the player, from a scale of 1 star to 5 stars, by voting in the poll at the bottom. (Note: If you bleed True Blue and Gold, all recruits will be 5-star recruits, but let’s assess them considering UCLA’s current depth at the position and the current strengths and weaknesses.) If you disagree with whatever reasoning I have, back your shit up in the comments.

Today’s kid: Devin Fuller, QB, Old Tappan, NJ. Height: 6’0” … Weight: 185 pounds … 3rd-ranked QB in the nation … GPA 2.9 … SAT 1100

Why should you give him 5 stars?

Devin Fuller is compared to Pat White according to Rivals. That’s a pretty lofty comparison considering White had a wildly successful college career, but it’s also very accurate. The scouting report — and the video at the beginning of this post — suggests that this dude is a freaking speed demon. He’s got great pocket awareness and knows how to extend plays with his feet.

That’s not all, though. The kid can toss a serious deep ball with the flick of his wrist, off his back foot. (Check the 2:05 mark in the video above.) With a gun like that, the offense can get seriously vertical and the defense will have to be spread incredibly thin because his deep ball and his ability to gain major yardage (he ran for 3600 yards combined in the past two seasons) forces a defense on its heels.

The dude’s a playmaker and, based on the scouting report at ESPN, he’s a confident QB who is comfortable taking command in the huddle.

Why should you give him 1 star?

I don’t know how you’d justify giving him a 1-star rating, but there are definitely concerns.

The most glaring? He’ll be a dual-threat, short, fast QB in Noel Mazzone’s offense — the one that’s been run by guys like 6’8” Brock Osweiler at ASU and 6’5” Philip Rivers at NC State. (Apparently, Mazzone loves QBs who throw all weird.) In case you didn’t know, neither of those guys are a threat to run, instead keeping more of a pocket presence. It’ll be interesting to see if Mazzone will tweak his offense to accommodate both Fuller and redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley (another QB who’s a threat to run) or if both of those guys progress enough to compete with T.J. Millweard, the prototypical Mazzone QB. (If UCLA is run with serious discipline, it’ll be the former.)

I don’t know if Fuller is going to stay all that patient in the pocket, or if he should be pedestrian in the back-field.

Another concern is that GPA — 2.9 is pretty low, and while that won’t affect his play on the field, is it possible that he won’t even get on the field if his grades are stinky?

And then you must consider the competition: We have Brett Hundley, the apparent “savior” of UCLA football and T.J. Millweard, a QB that Mazzone was undoubtedly looking forward to coaching.

That’s enough from me, though. What do you think? How many stars do you give Fuller?

How much time should we give Jim L. Mora to turn around our football program?

As you have heard by now, our recruiting class is sick (which is another word for “awesome,” old people). As of right now, we have the highest-ranked recruiting class in the Pac-12 according to Scout.com and Rivals (the first time this has happened since 2002). This comes after a bleak outlook for our beloved university’s football program, not just in terms of recruiting, but overall, when everyone was shocked to learn Jim L. Mora would become our head football coach.

Twenty-three recruits, three highly-regarded recruiters and a Noel Mazzone later, and all of a sudden, the excitement around this football program seems to have peaked for the first time in a long, long while.

Of course, many of us will enter the season with a crap-load of skepticism before getting all giddy over our football team, and for good reason: This school was equally excited when we figured Rick Neuheisel would be our savior back in 2008.

Things seem a little different this time around, for sure, but that doesn’t mean the result won’t end up the same. Which might — just might — lead to a little impatience from the Bruin faithful.

Just how impatient are we, though? We’ve been expecting to win the Pac-12 ever since the end of Neuheisel’s first year and the fan-base was incredibly upset throughout the entire 2011 campaign.

The question should be looked at more specifically, too. So, specifically, how many losing seasons will it take Mora to earn himself a pink slip? How many wins must he rack up per year to keep him on as coach? How long will we wait for his Bruins to get into a Rose Bowl (or a BCS bowl) before we say adios, amigo.

Personally? I have no idea. I can say this, though: A 6-6 season would be underachieving, but it wouldn’t be enough for me to ask for Mora’s head after the first year. 6-6 is where this team was at last season, and depending on how those six losses are accumulated (Neuheisel’s 6-6 squad either won by a close margin at home or lost by at least three or four touchdowns on the road), it might not be such a bad thing. If Mora’s squad gets, say, four of six losses by seven points or less, I can’t ask for his head immediately, because it’s possible that the team has a 10-2 record. Again, for me, everything is arbitrary.

But if Mora goes 4-8? I couldn’t stomach it, considering the team was inconsistent as hell last year and still got to .500 on the season.

Additionally, it’d be nice to get to the Rose Bowl — or a BCS bowl — within two years. If progress is slower than what I expect, I wouldn’t mind being shafted by the more-arbitrary-than-I-am BCS committee, especially if our record two seasons down the line winds up being 9-3 or 10-2.

But if there are two straight 6-6 seasons? I couldn’t stomach that either, for the same reasons I couldn’t stomach a 4-8 season to start.

But that’s me, and I don’t pretend to speak for the entire UCLA community. What say you? How patient will you be with Mora?