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UCLA Football Practice Notes: Bruin Secondary v. Baylor's "Up-Tempo" Offense, Bruin DL's "Violent Hands"

Coach Jim Mora met with the reporters after practice today and frankly he didn't have a lot of new information to provide. Here is the video:

Part of it has to do with reporters asking lame questions or not having specific queries about game planning beyond asking Mora repetitive questions about setting up his bowl preparation schedule. It's a question Mora has answered in number of different ways in his last couple of outings.

When asked - Mora also mentioned Bruins will really not have an advantage for playing the bowl game in California. He said both teams will be in an environment that will be a "little bit foreign" as they will be staying in hotels. But Mora did say UCLA could have an advantage if our fan base turns out in force as they can get down to San Diego easily (while he expects Baylor to bring a "strong contingent" to San Diego).

We will see I guess. Bruins have sold out its allotted 11,000 tickets despite a very poor job by the athletic department of distributing those tickets. If the Bruins turn out in huge numbers in San Diego, it will be despite of clunky efforts of Chianti's Morgan Center.

Elsewhere, Chis Foster prodded members of the Bruin secondary about taking on an explosive spread offense. Per the Bruin players the key will be "tempo":

"We have to dictate what we allow them to do," safety Andrew Abbott said. "You take them out of their game plan, get them in second and long, it makes them a true offense. They can't run that tempo anymore. They have to see what defense you're in. We can dictate."

Baylor quarterback Nick Florence has dictated pretty well, throwing for 4,121 yards and 31 touchdowns. Receiver Terrance Williams has 95 receptions for 1,764 yards and 12 touchdowns.

"It's going to take all 11 of us being accountable," cornerback Aaron Hester said.

The Bruins' secondary has been scorched at times this season. But the Bruins feel familiarity is their comfort zone.

"Most of these spread offenses are universal," Hester said. "We face an up-tempo offense every day in practice. I know they're going to have some new stuff for us. We just have to prepare for what we've seen on film."

As the case has been last few games, I think the key for the Bruin defense will be to win the battles on first and second downs. We can't let them get those guys in "manageable" situations on 3rd and get them off the field quickly. Guess, the play of our defensive line is going to be key. Ryan Kartje of the OC Register wrote about our defensive line, which emerged as a potent force this year in the Pac-12:

"I thought the defensive line was one of the strong points of our team," Mora said Monday when asked about the group's improvement, "and I think it's proven to be the case."

Senior lineman Datone Jones finished the regular season sixth in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss (17.5), and blocked two punts. Cassius Marsh added 7.5 sacks - second on the team. And even Owamagbe Odighizuwa contributed in several key moments. It was the kind of performance Mora had hoped for when he made that declaration before even seeing his defensive line play a single game with him as coach.

Much of that improvement, Jones said, came from a simple, unexpected change in their training suggested by defensive line coach Angus McClure. Under McClure's program, the Bruins' defensive linemen were all trained by a martial artist to improve the use of their hands. Jones said he's seen a big change in the entire line's effectiveness at getting off blocks. The change could even make Jones one of the Bruins' highest drafted players in next year's NFL draft.

"After spring ball, we saw our hands got better, our hand speed was faster, guys were using their hands more, striking better," Jones said. "We did it every day. We started becoming guys with violent hands. ... When you don't have that ability yet, you don't understand what you can really do."

Well Ryan Kartje - welcome to few days ago here on BN. Hopefully the guys can put together one final strong performance to close out the season next week.