Let's start this Monday by building on a major point Bellerophon made in yesterday's Bruin Bites. We are all glowing this morning because of Bru-108 thanks to our women's volleyball team. That team has been on an amazing run this entire season. Hopefully their championship is start of something special under second year coach Mike Sealey.
I think the energy and enthusiasm that we witnessed here for volleyball team on Saturday night is really something special. We had over 750 comments for a volleyball championship game on a Saturday night during Holiday season. That is truly stunning. We all collectively need to experience some positive vibes after what we have been through in recent weeks. Still just imagine what this place will be like if our football team is back in a Rose Bowl or a New Year's Bowl Day game or our hoops team is back in the Final-4.
I hope the UCLA administration is taking the right lessons from the support and energy coming from this community and other places (the Twitterverse was going nuts) the greater Bruin Nation showed on Saturday night. Championship number 108 didn't show that Dan Guerrero is doing something right, it showed the potential of possible explosive energy of emotion and support (which can be translated into $$$) from UCLA alums and fans if our major revenue programs were putting together national championship caliber seasons in their respective programs. It only underscores the need for total regime and culture change at UCLA athletics.
We all need to be at a place in which we are not just celebrating volleyball championships as something out of the ordinary, but also experiencing similar UCLA caliber success in our major revenue programs. We need to have that kind of national championship standard for every program at UCLA. It certainly helps that both our current head coach and the previous one took note of number 108 on Twitter. Both of them appear to "get it." Unfortunately the previous one didn't get the job done. We are badly hoping even though we didn't agree with the way the hiring went down, the current one will get us to that level starting with a great year next season. On that notes let's cover some left over football relates news from the weekend after the jump.
Bruins like most other bowl teams used their first portion of practice schedule focusing on basics and fundamentals before getting into specific preparation for their bowl opponent. Saturday was the last day for them to focus on the "basics." Mike Johnson mentioned in his post-practice presser the coaches will get into Illinois specific preparation starting today:
As Johnson noted in the video above Kevin Prince after missing practice on Friday for precautionary reasons was back at it on Saturday. He reportedly looked all right. It will be interesting to see the performance of Prince and rest of the offense against Illinois. I am sure potential employers will be tuning in to see how the team performs. Reportedly the tempo at practice has been relatively little faster in last few days.
What I think we will have to look for is to see whether there is any change in the mindset of how the Bruins attack opposing Ds. We didn't really see much of that in UCLA's predictable playcalls of last few seasons. I am kind of anxious to see if Johnson shows us something different.
Speaking of Saturday's practice if you read Blair Angulo's report at ESPNLA, Bruins hosted a group of recruits which included blue chip defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia), defensive backs Brandon Beaver (Dominguez) and Kevon Seymour (Muir), lineman Jeremy Castro (Vista Murrieta), Colby Cyburt (Mission Viejo) and committed LB Aaron Porter (La Habra) and OL Lacy Westbrook.
Chris Foster from the LA Times actually provided an interesting tidbit on UCLA's recruiting, noting that Mora has been somewhat comfortable in this role because his 16 year old son Cole is a junior soccer player who is also looking at schools. From the Times:
"I think about what I would want to hear and what kind of person I would want to send my son off to play for," Mora said. "It's very easy for me to talk to these parents because they're basically my counterpart."
Mora was prepared for other schools to use his lack of college experience against him. Mora spent 21 seasons as an NFL assistant and head coach.
"They're going to say, 'The guy has never coached in college; he doesn't know how to recruit; he has never coached against the spread offense,'" Mora said. "Before a kid has a chance to think about those things, I tell him how we're addressing them."
The lack of recruiting experience didn't seem to worry players Saturday.
"When he talked to us, it seemed normal," Westlake Village Oaks Christian's Ishmael Adams said. "He seemed like he has talked to kids before. He seems to understand the process we're going through."
That is good to hear. Now we will need Mora to close out with what we are hoping is a solid top-25 class heading into upcoming signing day. He was already off to a solid start from this past weekend with the commitment of Marcus Rios.
Elsewhere, Angulo had comments from assistant coaches Inoke Breckterfield and Marques Tuiasosopo with their reactions to news of staying in Mora's staff:
"Not knowing what is going to happen is natural for anyone to wonder what is going to happen next," Breckterfield said. "And when he offered the job there is a natural feeling of relief."
Breckterfield's unit drew some criticism for poor play early on his season, but had a better second half and he said was happy to get the chance to stay on and continue to try and improve. Defensive lineman Datone Jones was happy to hear his position coach would remain aboard.
"I'm excited," Jones said. "He's a great guy. He got his feet wet his first year and he'll come back and do bigger things next year. Guys are used to him now and he's going to get a lot of things in this program."
While we are happy from Inoke, his performance will be closely scrutinized next year. Lot of UCLA fans for very good reasons were concerned about the performance of our DL this past season. I am going to take the optimistic view for now and hope that Inoke under a head coach with NFL defensive experience and hopefully under a seasoned DC, will produce better results on the field next season. In the short term he will serve as important bridge between the two regimes, ensuring UCLA holds on to the key players from our current class. As for Tui we have already noted before that keeping him on the staff should be a positive development for our players.
Speaking of positive development, Angulo shared some strong comments from freshman WR Devin Lucien, who is "really excited with the new coaching staff" and is "hungry" and "ready to go" for next season. We are hoping every member of this team shares Lucien's mindset. We are going to need that kind of hunger and ambition of Jim Mora's Bruins want to get started the right way producing what should be a huge season on the field next year.