I know it's cliché but thanks to the big win on Saturday every game is going to get bigger and bigger provided the Bruins can take care of business. Arizona has been a major PIA for the UCLA program during the dark Chianti decade of obscurity as the Wildcats have given the Bruins multiple beat downs embarrassing the program on national stage.
Now the Wildcats are coming into the Rose Bowl on a major high, after beating Southern Cal. They are coming in with an explosive offense and a reckless head coach who appears to have no problem sending out a quarterback even though he is going through concussion issues. So it will be interesting to see how the Bruins handle all of this and also the new national ranking (we haven't handled national ranking well in recent years.
Anyway, here was Coach Jim Mora after practice, who sounds pleased about "staying in the hunt" (for a conference championship) and who didn't shy away from referencing "implications down the road" while talking about what is at stake this Saturday night:
Couple of personnel notes that stuck out to me and both of them have to do with special teams:
- Mora mentioned that when the Bruins were driving for the game winning field goal, his "line of demarcation" was the 35 yard line as he felt that Fairbairn could make kick from 52-53 yard range. Not sure what I think of that. I certainly don't want UCLA coaches to get conservative when they get to 35 yard line in the future thinking that they are going to get 3 from the kicker. That mindset burned us against Oregon State and against Cal, and don't want to see any conservative tendencies creep up again.
- Mora mentioned that UCLA was trying out bunch of guys for punt return mentioning the names of Shaq Evans, Devin Fuller, Randall Goforth, Tevin McDonald, Ahmad Harris and Jordan Payton. Damien Thigpen will remain back there (as he has been there as one of the two returners). But it sounds like Mora is getting ready to give Steven Manfro "a little break" from punt returning duties. Perhaps Manfro will end up being a solid player but I think at this point when it comes to punt return, Mora and the team needs to go on another direction.
Mora also talked about an apology he received from the Pac-12 conference re. the coin toss debacle, saying the league "accepted responsibility." Now it'd be nice if the league did the responsible thing and asked Rich Rod wth is he doing throwing out a player back into action who now has a history of multiple concussions.
We will share more notes they become available.