The track record for UCLA during last few years has not been very good when it comes to performance after big wins. In 2006 after 13-9 we put on a wretched display of football against Florida State in the Nut Bowl. Following Rick Neuheisel's home opening win against Tennessee in 2008 we went on to get demolished by BYU in Provo. The following year we followed up our win against Tennessee in Knoxville with a sloppy, uninspiring win against Kansas State. Same patter was in play the year after when the Bruins followed up an inspiring win against Texas in Austin, with a very sloppy defensive performance against a mediocre Washington State team.
So will the Bruins come out with focus and intensity tomorrow night against Houston? Well, Coach Jim Mora in his post-practice presser seemed confidently optimistic. He talked about having a "good practice" in Thursday and anticipated having "a lot of fun" at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. He talked about keeping everything in "perspective" and "protecting the work" the team has done in recent weeks to keep the momentum going against Houston. Chris Foster from the LA Times was trying hard to bait him into say something silly with stupid "trap game" questions but Coach Mora didn't bite.
Many of us are anticipating that the Bruins will continue their offensive fireworks on Saturday night. Per Noel Mazzone while all eyes are on the Jet Ski, anyone is capable of breaking out in UCLA's offense:
"It's not like it's a one-man show on offense," coach Jim Mora said. "We're spreading the ball around a lot, it's just that Johnathan is doing some special things right now."
Mazzone said it's probably just coincidence that Franklin has had two monster games in a row. He said that the way his offense is designed, anyone on the field could go off at any time.
"We just do what we do every day and it can change," Mazzone said. "All of a sudden one of the wideouts can have a big game or an inside receiver. We just try to be the same team every day, it's just the way things have kind of happened that Johnathan had the big games."
Well, let's hope they can keep doing what they do every day on Saturday night.
Not a lot of news when it comes to injuries. Coach Mora talked about it during his presser as well. I guess there has been a lot of hullaballoo this week about Southern Cal banning a Daily News "reporter" Scott Wolf (Trojan alum) because he according to the Trojans violated injury reporting policies. Coach Mora talked about having a balanced approach as he said while he is sensitive to the needs of reporter for information, who come out every day, he also has to be protective of information not to give our opponents a competitive advantage. Peter Yoon transcribed his comments on his "balanced" approach to providing information to the media:
"We at UCLA appreciate the job you guys do, we understand how hard it is and we want to give the information necessary to do your job," he told beat writers Thursday after practice. "Especially you guys who come out here every stinking day, rain or shine, hot or cold.
"At the same time, we have to protect what we're doing. If we provide our opponent with a competitive advantage because we are providing them injury information, that's just not good for our program. We have to balance what is good for our fans and what is good for you guys and what's good for the public and what's good for our football team."
Meh, not sure I care about being sensitive to the needs of our beat reporters. Except for very few of them they are mostly worthless and kind of lazy. Frankly, I don't really care as much about reading injury reports. If they are available, great. If not, as long as the players best interests are being taken care of, I don't really want to worry about it. What I do think is important is for the coaches to provide lucid and cogent big picture perspective for the program, general observations on team issues, and thoughts on the upcoming opponents.
There is a fine line between looking completely aloof and disinterested (ie Karl Dorrell) and too chatty and chummy with the reporters (Rick Neuheisel). Although to be fair things are going well for Mora right now. It will be interesting to see his press interactions with Bruins experience adversity. We are going to have down moments sometime this season.
That said, I still think UCLA should keep out hacks like Simers out of locker room because someone like him is not showing up at our facilities to "report" or discuss our games or teams. He is only showing up to troll and make himself the story. An aggressive athletic department conscious about its brand would have taken some kind of action against a clown like Simers long time ago.
Speaking of general observations Mora gushed when asked about Jeff Locke:
"He's tremendous. He really is. He set up a safety with the punt (last week against Nebraska). We feel like anytime we get inside the 50 yard line that he's very capable more than likely to pin our opponent inside the 10. Not only that, but he's really got an important role here as a mentor to some of those other guys. Everyone on this team looks up to him. He's one of the best punters I've ever been around at any level. It's fun to watch him work. It's fun to watch his professionalism in practice. You hope that rubs off on everybody, and I think it does. His team voted him as a team captain. If it wasn't unanimous it was as close as I've seen ever seen it unanimous."
So punting is winning after all? LOL I doubt Mora approaches punting the same way Donahue and his disciples did. If the Rice game was an indication it appears that he and his staff will have no issues with being aggressive on fourth downs.
Elsewhere, Chris Foster has this update on Patrick Larimore:
Linebacker Patrick Larimore returned to UCLA's practice Thursday, as an observer, coach and cheerleader.
Larimore was forced to walk away from playing because of multiple concussions. But he wanted to maintain a role with the team.
"The hardest part was not being around the guys," Larimore said. "I want to be out here and help any way I can."
That's great news as Larimore being around should bring lot of positive mojo around the program.
Let's conclude this Friday roundup on a triumphant note. Thanks to all your efforts the Jet Ski was voted the national player of the week. Big ups to JoeBruin15 and many others for keeping the fire going all week here on BN and all over the internets. Hope we get the chance to do it again next week.