"cleared 100%" - Stephen Dunn
News and notes from UCLA football as the Bruins wrap up their final practice in Spaulding field in 2012 before heading down to San Diego to take on Baylor Bears in the Holiday Bowl.
I have already posted the video of seniors getting carried off the field today after their last practice. The practice was somewhat of an eventful one as Coach Mora mentioned that the team practiced with extra energy now that we are only a week away from game day.
Here is Mora after Thursday morning practice during which the Bruins "simulated a mock game," and also practiced on game situations including the kicking game:
Bruins head down to San Diego tomorrow. Mora gave the reporters a little run down on how next week's schedule will shape up (rough transcript of the video above):
We will go down there tomorrow (Friday), but we won't practice. We'll take the bus down there tomorrow. And then Saturday morning we'll start really getting into game week.
Saturday's like a Monday for us in terms of our typical game week preparation so it's really a bonus day. So we won't do a whole lot on Monday. Really just kind of run around and get used to the environment.
And Sunday will be like a Tuesday and that's when we'll really hit hard. You are going into an unfamiliar environment. There will be a lot of distractions. Good distractions, you know, positive things that we get to do. Bowl events. But at the same time, we have to find a way when we're in meetings, when we're on the practice field, to narrow our focus. And I just have confidence that these guys can do that.
Dalton Hilliard talked a little about representing UCLA "with respect" in San Diego:
"We'll have our normal curfew rules," Hilliard said. "We'll make sure to represent the school with respect. We're a disciplined team, and Coach has harped on that stuff in meetings."
We will hold you to that Dalton. Speaking of respect, Mora also gushed about the seniors. He talked about it in the video and Ryan Kartje wrote up his comments in his OC Register UCLA report:
The senior carry-out is one of the team's traditions that first-year UCLA coach Jim Mora knew he had to keep when he accepted the job before this season. And to see the seniors that meant so much to the Bruins in his first successful year in Westwood, Mora glowed after practice about the group of 19.
"I relied on them a lot," Mora said. "I had a lot of questions for them about how they've done things, what needed to change, what didn't need to change. They've proven themselves to be trustworthy guys, so when they give me advice, which I'm not afraid to take, it's something I can put stock in."
Mora relied on the group of seniors more than he imagined he would when he took the job. But after nine victories and plenty of national attention for a job well done, Mora's faith has certainly been rewarded.
No one deserves to leave UCLA with a big victory than guys like the Jet, Jeff Locke and Kevin Prince. Hopefully, they are all going to be ready to go, well prepared and focused even through all the fun Bowl game related distractions this upcoming week (ie attending a dinner with a Mariachi band tomorrow night).
In terms of personnel - looks like Devin Lucien is 100 percent:
"I was cleared 100% a week ago," Lucien said after Thursday's practice. "I felt good four to five weeks after the injury, but the doctors didn't think so."
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said receivers Shaquelle Evans and Jerry Johnson will start in the bowl game but promised (with Lucien standing in front of him) that the 6-foot, 200-pound Crespi High product will be used liberally.
"We've missed him," Mazzone said. "People forget he hasn't been around, but you go back to the Nebraska and Rice games ... he made some big plays.
"He plays hard, has great ball skills, can get in and out of the breaks. Him being gone didn't change how I feel about him. Playing well might boost his confidence in that."
Looking forward to Lucien coming back. He is easily one of the most exciting receivers we have seen in the blue and gold uniform in a while. Pretty fun to imagine how our receiving corps is going to look like next year with Shaq Evans, Jordan Payton, Lucien, Devin Fuller and more new talent coming into the program.
Lastly, yesterday it was Ryan Kartje who wrote about Angus McClure deploying martial arts technique to coach up our defensive line. Today it was Chris Foster's turn to write on something we discussed on BN 11 days ago. Still, it's good to see McClure getting recognition. He deserves it after the kind of season our DL had this year. Foster wrote about Mora's thinking on keeping McClure on as his DL coach and the NFL coaches McClure contacted to prepared for this season:
"Spending time with him, I felt he was a guy who could easily go from coaching offense to defense," Mora said. "When you're an offensive line coach, you have to be a technician. I knew anything he didn't understand about defensive line, he'd learn and apply it quickly."
Plus, Mora said, "Angus is a progressive thinker."
His background as an offensive line coach provided defensive linemen with a unique perspective.
Said defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa: "He taught us how to read them and how to combat them."
I am guessing this guy may be taking notes.