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Sunday Morning Quarterback Cactus Bowl Edition: UCLA Football’s Transition From Jim Mora to Chip Kelly Can Now Be Completed

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In the Cactus Bowl, UCLA still showed the problems that plagued the Jim Mora era.

Cactus Bowl - Kansas State v UCLA Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Sloppy defensive play, plenty of penalties and lots of stupid penalties were all trademarks of the Jim Mora era of UCLA Football.

Last night in the Cactus Bowl, things were no different. It was almost as if the players were trying to pay homage to their former coach by making sure those things showed up.

But, the whole game wasn’t like that.

The first half was one of the best halves of football for UCLA since the Hawai’i game. In fact, after the first half, I was left wondering what might have been if Dan Guerrero had decided to fire Jim Mora earlier in the season.

That’s because the offense was suddenly creative and exciting again. The team was faking reverses, running reverses and doing some stuff we hadn’t seen before including handing the ball off to LB Mique Juarez, who gained 11 yards, in a 4th and 2 situation in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, the team also reverted to its old ways in the second half. The team was unable to adjust to having Alex Delton in at quarterback in the second half and outgoing Kansas State offensive coordinator Dana Dimel took advantage of it by having Delton run the K-State offense while also running all over the Bruin defense.

Personally, I still don’t understand why Tom Bradley’s defense never quite worked in Westwood. It just didn’t seem to match up well against out opponents the past few years.

I don’t know if the players just didn’t get it or if they were too inexperienced going up against more experienced opponents.

Maybe it was just a matter that Sal Alosi didn’t get the job done as the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

I don’t know, but, whatever it was, it just didn’t work well enough for UCLA to be successful under Jim Mora.

But, now, it’s over.

I expect that, over the next week or so, we will find out who will fill out the rest of Chip Kelly’s staff. Of course, there is Ian Rapoport’s report that Kelly wants current Redskins’ QB coach Kevin O’Connell as UCLA’s next offensive coordinator.

I’ve read that this may be a good choice for a few reasons. One of those reasons is because Sean McVay came from the Redskins and has been successful with the Rams. The problem with this is that O’Connell didn’t coach with McVay in Washington.

The fact is that O’Connell’s experience seems to raise more questions than it provides answers. In 2015, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns. While there, Josh McCown became the first player in franchise history to throw for 300 or more yards in three straight games, but Josh Rosen doesn’t want to go to Cleveland and if O’Connell did a good job with the Browns’ quarterbacks, he would probably stayed there more than a year instead of joining the 49ers to oversee special projects under Kelly.

It just makes you say hmm....

On the defensive side of the ball, the big question is whether Angus McClure will return. There have been rumors that he would be retained, but there has not an announcement to that effect yet, which raises doubts about the rumors.

Another assistant whose future is in question is Rip Scherer. While it’s been announced that three offensive assistants will be retained, Scherer’s name has not been mentioned.

Of course, starting in January, schools can actually have as many as ten assistant coaches. So, that would indicate that Kelly could add one more assistant beyond these three. The natural choice would be a special teams coordinator, but we’ll have to see.

And, then, there’s the position of strength and conditioning coach. Technically, it’s not counted as one of the assistant coaches. But, at the same time, I can’t see Sal Alosi being retained. The Bruins have just had too many injuries to merit his retention.

What will happen with these positions moving forward?

I don’t know. Personally, I think a full house cleaning is probable. If any more of the current assistants were going to be retained, I think we would have heard about that by now.

What I do know is that the next month or so should prove interesting as Kelly looks to fill out his staff while also continuing to build the recruiting class as we head into the traditional National Signing Day in February.


Go Bruins!