After a gut-wrenching loss to Southern Cal, followed by dead week and finals week, the UCLA football team returned to practice on Saturday. Today, however, the Bruins began preparing for their December 26th match-up against the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Coach Mora is 2-0 against Nebraska as Head Coach at UCLA, prevailing 36-30 at the Rose Bowl in 2012 in Brett Hundley's second game, and a huge come-from-behind win in Lincoln in 2013, in the game UCLA devoted to Nick Pasquale, who passed away the weekend prior to the game. UCLA was down 21-3 late in the first half, but scored 38 unanswered points to win going away, 41-21.
Given that the game is still almost two weeks away, I would have thought that UCLA would work on their own stuff this week, and game plan for Nebraska next week. As Coach Mora explains in his interview below, however, the Bruins like to game plan while they are still in Westwood while they have a consistent schedule, and then review and sharpen things up after they travel to the bowl venue. This is preferred, says Coach Mora, because of all of the scheduled events UCLA is required to attend as part of the bowl game, when things are less consistent from a scheduling perspective.
Coach Mora also gives Ka'imi Fairbairn major props, remembering how far he has come since his first game at Rice in 2012, when he had major issues, to becoming the 2015 Lou Groza Award winner.
Coach Mora also talks about how some guys are responding to injuries, the departure of Fred Ulu-Perry, and the recovery of guys like Eddie Vanderdoes and Fabian Moreau. Interestingly, Coach Mora indicated that neither Vanderdoes nor Moreau have indicated to him that they will not be returning to UCLA next season. It would be huge for UCLA's defense if both of those guys returned.
Finally, Coach Mora talks about how Josh Rosen has bounced back since the Southern Cal loss, and even came over to Mora's house unannounced the morning after the Southern Cal game to talk about the game and how they would move past it.
A special thanks to Edward Lewis and Bruin Sports Report for the videos of Coach Mora, Paul Perkins, and Jake Brendel.
Next up is UCLA running back, Paul Perkins. Perk talks about how the team is recovering from the Southern Cal game, how he has not made a decision about his future at UCLA or whether to declare for the NFL draft. Perkins has, as one would expect, put his name in for evaluation for the NFL draft. On the other hand, Perk says he has motivation to come back for his senior season: the possibility of being UCLA's leading all-time rusher and the chance to get revenge against Southern Cal next season. Whatever he chooses, we wish nothing but the best for Paul in his future.
Finally, we hear from center Jake Brendel, who is preparing for his final game as a Bruin. He will be starting his 52nd college game, the most ever by a Bruin (breaking Spencer Havner's record of 48 when Jake started against Washington State a few weeks ago). Jake is a true Bruin through and through, and he will be missed.
Jake is trying not to think about the fact that this will be his last game as a Bruin because he does not want to it to affect his preparation for the game. Jake talks a bit about his NFL prospects and, reflecting on his time at UCLA, hopes that he left a legacy as a leader on the offensive line. He believes that Josh Rosen has put the Southern Cal game behind him. Brendel also praises Ka'imi Fairbairn and talks about how the whole team loves him. Finally, Brendel thinks that when you play against a blue-blood team like Nebraska, it is tough to come out flat, so the Bruins will be ready two Saturdays from today.
That's it for today's Spaulding Report. We still have twelve more days of football left in the 2015 season, so check back with BN as we continue to cover the UCLA football team during the bowl season.