Are you ready for some football (previews)???
We kick of the Spring Previews with the coaching staff. The head honcho, Jim L. Mora, is still in place but there's been some juicy developments to the rest of the staff.
Current Staff going into 2016 (years of experience at UCLA counting from now)
|Head Coach||Jim L. Mora||4 years|
|Offensive Coordinator||Kennedy Polamalu||2 years|
|Defensive Coordinator||Tom Bradley||1 year|
|Senior Associate Head Coach & Tight Ends||Rip Scherer||1 year|
|Associate Head Coach, Run Game Coord., & Offensive Line||Adrian Klemm||4 years|
|Quarterback & Passing Game Coord.||Marques Tuiasosopo||0 year|
|Assistant Coach & Wide Receivers||Eric Yarber||4 years|
|Defensive Line & Recruiting Coordinator||Angus McClure||22 years!|
|Linebackers & Special Teams||Scott White||1 year|
|Assistant Head Coach on Defense & Defensive Backs||Demetric Martin||4 years|
|Strength & Conditioning||Sal Alosi||4 years|
The offensive coordinator, "no-O" Noel Mazzone, who has been at UCLA for the entire past four years (entire tenure of Mora) is gone to Texas A&Mas to serve in the same role. We don't know whether he was asked to find another job by Mora or genuinely picked by admitted friend and head coach of A&M, Kevin Sumlin. Either way, good riddance. His offense was good, but not great posting only one season in the top 20. In total offense (and scoring offense) from 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 UCLA ranked 28 (45), 23 (36), 38 (20), 24 (31). Good but not great. Also, let's not forget his deficiencies in the redzone. Additionally, "QB coach" Taylor Mazzone is gone. But A&M is smart enough to not give him the same title (he's not even on the front page of their staff).
Running backs coach, and possibly the strongest coach on the staff, Kennedy Polamalu, was promoted to offensive coordinator. Though he has had one year as a formal offensive coordinator while at Southern Cal, rumors have it that he did not call the plays instead leaving that task to Lane Kiffin. However, all reports indicate that he's a meticulous game planner, so I'm exited to see him put his "tough" stamp on the offense. Exactly, how much, how fast is one of the intriguing questions for Spring Football and beyond. Specifically, will we actually have real tight ends as soon as next year? Well, we brought in a dedicated Tight Ends coach: Rip Scherer.
Although not new to the staff (was in an office position last year), Rip Scherer brings with him a wealth of coaching experience on offense (including OC and HC) and will need it to help build up our tight ends program, essentially from scratch. I think this is an interesting move by Mora and I'm sure he'll have plenty of advise for Polamalu should he want it.
We finally have a real quarterback coach! Marques Tuiasosopo is back at UCLA and he bring an immediate upgrade to the most important position on the field. Oh &, it doesn't hurt that he's a proven hot-shot recruiter. Oh &, he now gets to mold Josh Rosen. I'm sure he's excited about that.
The last change is a minor one, but DeShaun Foster has moved on from the Director of Player Development & High School Relations to become the Running Backs coach at Texas Tech. I'm sad to lose him but happy that he can move up and start his coaching career!
What's the same
Mora and Bradley are back and this brings with them some good and bad news.
The good news is Mora's done a decent job as CEO, great recruiter, good human being, and a good ambassador for UCLA. The bad news is that Mora can't seem to fix the huge penalties problem that UCLA has had in all 4 seasons. Remember that after the Nebraska beating where they ran all over our defense, Mora said that
Our objective is to be a big, strong and physical offensive unit that has flexibility of personnel groupings
So, this is up to Alosi. I believe Alosi is a good S&C coach who is a no-nonsense kinda guy who can accomplish exactly what Mora tells him to. Which means Mora is to blame for not preparing our players to physically compete with like Stanford, Southern Cal, and even, Nebraska. As we'll discuss in other previews, the players are looking biggest after off-season workouts.
The good news is Bradley has a long history of excellent defenses at Penn State. The bad news is that Bradley got off to a bad start at UCLA. Some of it wasn't his fault with injuries, and he certainly gets a pass from me, but then again the "vanilla" scheme was all his doing. Also the bit that Hollins' family reported certainly made me sour on Bradley a bit but his interviews make him seem likable. So, we'll just have to wait and see.
I think the other coaches have done a good enough job so don't really have anything else to comment. There's more I can talk about (Scott White, for example) but I gotta wrap this up. What do you guys think? Let's discuss in the comments.