The Bruins continue to practice and enjoy the sights around El Paso as they await Tuesday's Sun Bowl game against Virginia Tech. Before sharing a steak dinner with the Hokies last night, Coach Mora joined Coach Beamer for the joint Saturday press conference. UCLA Athletics has posted Coach Mora's portion of the press conference. (video via youtube.com/UCLAathletics)
Mora made sure to praise the hospitality of the people in El Paso and the honor that he felt taking the team to Ft. Bliss earlier in the week to visit with the troops, as well as the great respect that he has for Frank Beamer and the program that he built in Blacksburg. He talked about the many Hokies that he coached in the NFL and the traits that he saw in them and in the players that will be lining up against the Bruins in a couple of days.
IEAngel did a nice job in breaking down the Hokie defense, including their deep and highly talented group in the secondary. The latest injury reports have not been kind to that unit. Oft-injured (but 2-time all-ACC) senior DB Antone Exum was considered a long shot to play after re-aggravating a knee injury last month - his return for the Sun Bowl is now looking out of the question. That same SBN report also noted that Kyle Fuller is also doubtful after suffering a setback in his recovery from 'core muscle surgery' during Saturday's practice. Chris Foster's late day report states that Kyle will not play. It is a big loss for the Virginia Tech defense, but they are one of very few teams in the nation positioned well to deal with this kind of loss heading into a big game.
Further along in Chris Foster's practice notes from El Paso, Anthony Barr talked about how much 'fun' the challenge of bringing down 6'6 260lb TE-turned-QB Logan Thomas. Lou Spanos mentioned the importance of getting bodies near Logan given how difficult he can be to bring down.
Bill Knight of the El Paso Times has been covering the Bruins time in town, with his latest piece being a story on Jake Brendel, his path to becoming a Center and leaving for Westwood, and his return to Texas.
Brendel chose UCLA because "I needed change in my life. I had experienced the Midwest (he was born in Madison, Wisc.), I had experienced Texas. More than anything, I chose UCLA because of the school, because of the history of the program and because I saw potential."
And Jake's approach to the Sun Bowl:
"We want to work on our technique each day, we want to get better, we want to win this game to spring us into next season, to make next season even better," he said. "This game is not just another game. This game means a lot to us."
In non-Bruin football news, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has reportedly been offered the head coaching position with the Houston Texans. Whatever we all might think about Penn State's football program and overall administration, I have to admit that O'Brien has done a nice job in his two years after going into a brutal situation at State College. With O'Brien showing that it is possible to win games in that program's current state (though playing in the Big 10 is a major part of that) and the Sandusky-related sanctions done in 2 years, anyone think their prospective coaching search will come up with someone better than seven-win Sark?
Speaking of the trogans... Their starting center, Marcus Martin, has announced that he is leaving early to enter the 2014 draft. That leaves Sark with a pretty thin depth chart on the offensive line - needing to count on prospectively enrolling freshmen in next fall's class to even put together a scholarship two-deep. With a couple of those guys reminiscent of what we saw during the Dorrell/Neuheisel years. Next fall should be quite the learning experience for Max Browne.
Today the Bruins and Hokies will come together again for the Sun Bowl luncheon along with their respective practices and other team sessions.