Two seasons ago, under Defensive Coordinator Lou Spanos, the UCLA defense made very good halftime adjustments and, as a result, opponents had a tough time scoring against our defense in the second half. Last year, under Jeff Ulbrich, the defense didn't appear to make as many adjustments, make that, as many successful adjustments and the 2nd half defensive results seemed to slip compared to the previous year.
Enter Tom Bradley.
In only his first post-practice press conference of fall camp, not only did Coach Bradley demonstrate why Myles Jack and others referred to him as "Yoda" during Spring Practice, but he also allowed his experience show through without a lot of "coachspeak".
When asked how much film study he did during the offseason to prepare for the teams UCLA will face, Bradley didn't simply answer by telling the reporter how much film he watched. He went into a thorough explanation of his defensive strategy: flexibility.
Bradley sounded off like this:
Well, what we're trying to do is put together a package that is versatile enough no matter who we're playing. For example, our first game, we're not exactly sure what they're gonna do. So, we have to be ready if we have to change gears very quickly. So, you have to be multiple enough to play whatever they give you. That can happen because you're going to see so many variables throughout the course of a season, throughout the course of a game. Once they see what you're doing, it's like a little chess match going back and forth. The whole process, which is very difficult, is to figure out how far you can go where [your defense] can still play fast.
And, as coaches, we always want..."Let's do just one...one more..." and I think, when you get really good, you try to go one less, if that makes sense....I'd rather get them a little bit...right now, not now...but, eventually, you want to get them...bored. So, they've been doing the same thing over so they can play fast. If you can't play fast on defense, you can't play defense. It's just that simple.
Prior to being asked that question, he was asked about the factors that go into playing a 4-3 over a 3-4 and Bradley said that the team is "multiple fronts on everything." He added, "Depending on who we play, we have to be ready to have a lot of tools in our package because we can't be a one-trick pony."
Later, Coach Bradley was asked about how he recruits differently now that he's with UCLA. Bradley mentioned that he's happy to recruit in the East, because he knows his way around and doesn't get lost back there. But, he talked about the recruiting pitch he gives. He said, "I'm recruiting people to a great institution, not only athletically, but certainly academically, one of the best institutions in the country." He said that he talks about all the opportunity UCLA offers that players back East may not have thought of.
Sounds like a perfect pitch to me.
Thanks to Jack Wang of the Inside UCLA for posting the video of Coach Bradley.
Meanwhile, the Orange County Register has an article from Joey Kaufman about Kenny Young. In it, Young talks about being the "new general" of the defense. Young said:
I’m excited about the new job. I’m the quarterback of the defense. Why not stand up? ‘Come on guys, follow me.’ I like that type of stuff. I love being a ‘Mike’ linebacker. That’s what I was born to do. That’s why Coach (Jim) Mora recruited me.
It fits perfect for me.
Young is the guy Bradley was speaking about when he said:
It’s great he had the opportunity play behind such a talented player. I’m sure he learned a lot from watching him. My job is just to make him the best player he can be and maybe he can be the Butkus Award winner some day."
Well, if someone can make Young into the best player he can be, it's probably Bradley. Because, as Kaufman points out, Bradley had to replace a Butkus Award winner twice when he was at Penn State.
Kaufman has another article with notes and observations from today's session. He writes that Jerry Neuheisel was pretty effective, completing 9 of 12 with a TD and an INT while Josh Rosen looked shaky at times, but got better later in the session. The backs had a good day with Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi getting extended second-team snaps while Nate Starks broke a 30+ yard run for the second straight day.
On the injury front, Chris Clark was still out with mono and Ishmael Adams and Randall Goforth were both escorted off the field with a trainer but both appeared to be OK.
And that's today's Spaulding Report.