After Saturday night’s victory over Arizona, Jim Mora talked about the importance of putting together all three phases of the game. "I think it’s pretty evident we can play some really good defense, we can play some good special teams, we can play some good offense," Mora said. "We’ve just got to do it all at the same time."
The defense came together against BYU, when Takkarist McKinley and Eddie Vanderdoes returned from injury. The offense came alive in the second half at the Rose Bowl against the Wildcats, and I think we’re all probably hoping that means it’s going to "come together."
You know what else came together—maybe—on Saturday night? The return game—the one part of special teams that the Bruins were in want of production for the early part of the season.
Ishmael Adams continued to return kickoffs, and sprang one for over 50 yards against Arizona. But he was replaced on punt returns by Adarius Pickett and Mossi Johnson.
"It’s nice to have guys like Randall, and Adarius, and even Mossi back there that you have confidence in. That they’re going to catch the ball, secure it, and get positive yards," Mora said.
Goforth also sprang a kickoff return for 50 yards, after Adams left the game with a shoulder injury, and Adarius Pickett got 33 yards on one of his punt returns.
But it’s not just about the guy who’s catching the ball.
"A lot of the return game is guys doing a great job of blocking, and I thought we did a great job of that on Saturday night," Mora said.
"Once we do things right we’re pretty tough to deal with. So, each three phases of the ball, take that into consideration and know that when we do things right, we’re a tough unit to beat," linebacker Jayon Brown said on Monday. "Especially on away games, you gotta pack your special teams."
Practice, Practice, Practice
Wide receiver Darren Andrews got to be UCLA’s top receiver the same way you get to Carnegie Hall.
"Practice, practice, practice," Andrews responded to reporters on Monday, when asked how he’d become such a consistent weapon for the UCLA offense.
One of the reasons the offense clicked against Arizona, and hopefully "came together," was the decision by the coaching staff to tighten the playing time rotations of offensive playmakers.
That meant a guy like Andrews, who now leads UCLA in receptions (21) and reception yards (301), was going to get the ball more. He caught the ball 9 times on Saturday, and even got a carry on a jet sweep which he sprinted in for a touchdown—UCLA’s longest carry of the day.
"He works hard, and he’s dependable, and he’s explosive, and he really cares," Mora said about Andrews. "I thought he had a really good game on Saturday night. It’s fun to see him step up."
Theo’s Number Was Called At Halftime
"Yarbs said that in Zebra personnel he’ll be in, and I would go inside, instead of outside," Andrews said of the moment when Theo Howard was told he’d be getting on the field in the second half.
Howard, from the outside receiver position on the 19 yard line, ran a snag route, caught the ball from Rosen, and burst around two Arizona defenders for his first touchdown, a move that has Bruin fans hoping the true freshman will be a regular part of the tighter wide receiver rotations.
"He has a lot of potential. He has a lot of upstream. He’s just a freshman, so he’s young," Andrews said. "The more he’s out there, the more experience he’s going to get. I think that he’ll be a great player for UCLA."
Notes on the Sun Devils
Jim Mora has a winning record head-to-head against every Pac-12 South program except one: Arizona State, lead by Todd Graham, the Texan with the red face and the Madonna mic. Each coach has an even 2-2 record in four years against the other.
"We know this for sure, we’re going to get their very best, and they’re going to get our very best, and it’ll be another great Arizona State-UCLA game," Mora said.
ASU’s QB Manny Wilkins left the game against USC on Saturday with an injury, and wore a walking boot. He appears to be questionable to return for the game against UCLA this coming weekend, though Graham said he didn’t believe Wilkins would be out for an extended period of time.
HC Jim Mora:
LB Jayon Brown:
WR Darren Andrews:
OL Conor McDermott: