Doors open for Marques Tuiasosopo at UCLA

After joining the Bruins as an intern, he is working with the quarterbacks in preparation for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and could remain in the same capacity under new coach Jim L. Mora.

December 13, 2011|By Chris Foster

Marques Tuiasosopo got an upgrade … and may get a job.

Tuiasosopo left a job as assistant strength and conditioning coach at Washington last summer to become an intern at UCLA for his friend and former coach, Rick Neuheisel.

Neuheisel was fired two weeks ago and now Tuiasosopo has been promoted. He will work with quarterbacks as UCLA prepares to play Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 31.

"It's strange, I came down here to help out a coach who I played for," Tuiasosopo said. "Now I have a great opportunity."

Another opportunity may be coming. Jim L. Mora, hired Friday as UCLA's coach, is considering Tuiasosopo as his permanent quarterbacks coach.

Mora coached the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, and he and Tuiasosopo have a history dating to their days in the NFL.

"We used to talk before games and rib each other," said Tuiasosopo, who played for the Oakland Raiders.

They became better acquainted the year after Mora was fired by Seattle. He was a frequent visitor to the Washington campus.

"I played in his golf tournament for a few years and we got to know each other," Tuiasosopo said.

More Mora

Mora had a busy first day on campus.

He took the NCAA compliance test — "I haven't been so nervous about a test since my SATs," he said — and passed, so he will be allowed to recruit.

UCLA received a waiver from the NCAA to allow more than nine coaches on staff through the bowl game, though only nine can recruit.

Mora had a 15-minute meeting with the team after practice and had one-on-one meetings with assistant coaches in the evening.

Mora will not coach before UCLA plays in the bowl, saying, "I'll observe when I can, but it's important for me not to be a distraction."

Staff moves

Steve Broussard, receivers coach at Arizona State, and Adrian Klemm, offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Southern Methodist, are expected to join UCLA's staff in similar roles.

Boxing day

Practice on Tuesday included a fight between defensive lineman Datone Jones and tackle Brett Downey, who was supported by guard Casey Griffiths.

"You need that every once in a while," Jones said.

As to what started it, Jones said, "There was a lot of trash talk. I don't know who it was. I don't take that. If you say something, I'm going to retaliate … in practice, not in a game. In a game, I'm going to be more composed."

Interim Coach Mike Johnson shrugged off the incident.

"It happens when you run all those plays and you got all that testosterone going," Johnson said.

Quick hits

Linebacker Patrick Larimore had surgery on his right thumb. He is questionable for the bowl game, Johnson said. … Guard Chris Ward had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He is expected to be ready to play by spring practice. … Larimore was honored as the most valuable player on the defense and Nelson Rosario was selected MVP of the offense at the team banquet Monday.

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