As mentioned yesterday, we got our 2012 spring football started on Tuesday, leading off with the reasonable expectations for Jim Mora and his team this season:
So, when you look at our schedule, 8 wins should be the bare minimum expectation for Mora's first year in charge. Bear in mind, UCLA won 6 games last year, with Rick Neuheisel and his mediocre coaching staff in charge, with no stability at QB, and a tougher schedule (against Stanford with Andrew Luck in Palo Alto, against Arizona with Nick Foles in Tucson, against Houston with Case Keenum in Houston). Mora should easily be able to improve that regular-season mark by at least two wins.
Now, there will be clueless morons who will come in and try to create an environment of no-accountability, who will make excuses for failure, and try to downplay expectations for this upcoming season. We'll surely hear garbage about "transitions" and "learning a new system" and that this team will be "fortunate" to win 4 games. Like I mentioned yesterday, that weak-minded thinking is not going go cut it:
With the talent in this program, coupled with an easier schedule than last year, there should be no excuses for anything less than a two-win improvement, with at least 8 wins overall. But more importantly, we'll be looking for UCLA to play tough in every game, show improvement as the season goes on, and show definitive signs that the soft, mediocre-accepting culture of past regimes has been purged: players will be focused, sloppy penalties (like for illegal substitutions or delays of game) will be erased, and players will display proper fundamentals (like you know, actually tackling someone properly).
Rick Neuheisel and his inept coaching staff managed to get this UCLA team to 6 wins, despite the back-and-forth inability to stick with one QB the entire season and a more difficult schedule. When you look at this year's schedule, it is simply softer than last year's. With the talent in the program, both in terms of returning players, as well as incoming freshmen, there will be no excuse for anything less than 8 wins. Period.
Yesterday, we began our preview of the position coaches, beginning with Steve Broussard, Adrian Klemm, Demetrice Martin, and Angus McClure (who must be made of Teflon to survive two coaching regime changes). Today, we'll conclude the coaching preview portion of the 2012 spring football preview with the rest of our positional coaches and our new S&C coach, before moving on to the 3-4 defensive philosophy and the position-by-position break-down of our roster, all after the jump.
Coaching Staff Spring Preview, Part III - Individual Position & Strength and Conditioning Coaches
Tight Ends Coach Marques Tuiasosopo
Tuiasosopo, Rick Neuheisel's star QB during his days as Washington's head coach, managed to stay on with Jim Mora's staff following the coaching regime change this past winter. The Rose Bowl winning former QB will get his first shot at a positional coaching job, being asked to coach up Joseph Fauria, John Young, and Darius Bell. This will be an entirely new experience for him, having only worked with quarterbacks before. He certainly knows how to win the conference and get a team to the Rose Bowl, but can he coach these kids up?
Total years of coaching experience: 3 years, 0 as a tight ends coach
Coaching resume: Assistant strength coach (Washington, 2 years); football intern/assistant coach (UCLA, 1 year)
Alma mater: University of Washington
Notable players coached:
Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Jeff Ulbrich
As a 49ers fan, this might be my favorite addition to the coaching staff, just because I have good memories of him lighting people up for the Niners. As a coach, he's still relatively new to the game, but he's being asked to coach positions he's familiar with, having been both a special teams player and a linebacker. An intense linebacker, Ulbrich is expected to turn UCLA's often morose special teams unit into an aggressive, hard-hitting set of guys, as AHMB laid out earlier this year. His work ethic will certainly be welcome in Westwood, where our defense has long been reputed to be soft and lacking proper form and technique. It'll be interesting to see what he, Mora, and Spanos can do together on the defensive side of the ball. In terms of special teams, Ulbrich was apparently the lead recruiter on Ka'imi Fairbairn (per BruinBlitz), which was key since Kip Smith is on his way out and Jeff Locke will be a senior.
Total years of coaching experience: 2 years, 2 years as an special teams coach
Coaching resume: Special teams assistant (Seattle Seahawks, 2 years)
Alma mater: University of Hawaii
Notable players coached: Olindo Mare, K (Seattle Seahawks)
Wide Receivers Coach Eric Yarber
Of all the positional coaches, this one might be the best hire Mora could have made. Yarber has a long and impressive track record in developing WR talent, at both the college and NFL level. He brings instant credibility to the staff and is an outstanding recruiter, having led the Bruins' charge on big-time WR recruits Jordan Peyton and Javon Williams. That and, as a Crenshaw HS alum, Yarber gives us a great inside track to recruiting elite talent from inner city areas that UCLA has had difficulty scoring at before. But more importantly, aside from QB, WR was probably the biggest problem for UCLA the past few seasons, as our WR corps, despite having talent on paper, never seemed to develop, played sloppy and inconsistent, and if anything, seemed to regress under Neuheisel's watch. I wouldn't be shocked if there is a remarkable turnabout in our WR corps, which definitely needs help from the WR guru.
Total years of coaching experience: 16 years, 13 as a wide receivers coach
Coaching resume: Secondary coach (Idaho, 1 year); wide receivers coach (UNLV, 1 year); offensive quality control coach (Seattle Seahawks, 1 year); running backs coach (Oregon State, 1 year); wide receivers coach (Oregon State, 3 years); wide receivers coach (San Francisco 49ers, 2 years); wide receivers coach (Washington, 2 years); wide receivers coach (Arizona State, 2 years); wide receivers coach (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2 years)
Alma mater: University of Idaho
Notable players coached: Chad Ochocinco, WR (Oregon State); T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR (Oregon State); Terrell Owens, WR (San Francisco 49ers); Brandon Lloyd, WR (San Francisco 49ers); Gerell Robinson, WR (Arizona State); Aaron Pflugrad, WR (Arizona State); Kyle Williams, WR (Arizona State); Chris McGaha, WR (Arizona State), Mike Williams, WR (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Arrelious Benn, WR (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Strength & Conditioning Coordinator Sal Alosi
For the first time, UCLA football will have its own dedicated S&C coach, dedicated to the football team, and no one else at Morgan Center. Alosi, famous for tripping a Miami Dolphins' player as he was in the process of running back a kick return, is getting his shot for redemption in Westwood. A NFL-caliber S&C coach, UCLA should see some significant improvement in terms of strength, agility, and resistance to minor injuries. So far, what we've heard about his workout regimens all sound like the Bruins will come out lean, mean, and ready to fight and win this fall.
Total years of coaching experience: 10 years, 10 as a strength and conditioning coach
Coaching resume: Assistant coach/strength & conditioning coach (Hofstra, 1 year); strength and conditioning coach (Atlanta Falcons, 1 year); strength and conditioning coach (New York Jets, 8 years).
Alma mater: Hofstra University
Notable players coached: Curtis Martin, RB (New York Jets); Kevin Mawae, C (New York Jets); John Abraham, DE (New York Jets); Shaun Ellis, DE (New York Jets); Jonathan Vilma, LB (New York Jets); D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT (New York Jets); Alan Faneca, OG (New York Jets); Nick Mangold, C (New York Jets)
Alright everyone, that's the final part of our focus on the coaches we hope will get things turned around in Westwood quickly. The full-blown spring football preview, beginning with an overview of the defensive philosophy shift from the 4-3 to the 3-4, with individual position groupings will begin tomorrow.
For now, fire away with your thoughts, opinions, and takes in the thread.