August 21, 2012 |
Heading into last season, UCLA's defensive line was considered one of its strengths. Heading out of it, that unit was a clear weakness. Offenses ran roughshod over UCLA's front line and ultimately torched the Bruins for 190.6 rushing yards a game. UCLA surrendered more than 200 rushing yards in seven games, including in the Pac-12 championship, when Oregon ran for 352 yards and rolled the Bruins, 49-31. In the end, UCLA's rushing defense ranked 96th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams and next to last in the Pac-12 Conference.
August 19, 2012 |
What has been clear through two-plus weeks of training camp is that the Bruins' defense is going to do the unexpected. Dalton Hilliard, a 198-pound safety, more or less playing an inside linebacker spot? Sure. “We're just moving him around a little bit,” Coach Jim Mora said. There has been a lot of that. Whether it's the smorgasbord of defensive fronts or the eclectic nickel-and-dime packages, it sometimes seems as if defensive coordinator Lou Spanos is pulling defensive looks out of a hat. “If all heck breaks lose, and you said, 'What is UCLA going to play?
August 18, 2012 |
A defense often adopts the personality of its coordinator. But what is going on at UCLA is body-snatcher-like eerie. Go to Lou Spanos, the guy with the square-jaw look and haircut to match, and ask what he learned from the Bruins' 2011 game tapes. Go ahead, make his day. "Our focus is on the 2012 Bruins' defense," the first-year defensive coordinator said with a smirk. Walk over to newly minted inside linebacker Damien Holmes to inquire what lessons defensive players learned from 2011.
November 12, 2011 |
Reporting from Salt Lake City -- This had a familiar feel, a familiar look, a familiar sound. UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel went around the locker room after the game cajoling Bruins' players to "stay up, stay up, I need you next week. " Defensive players were perplexed about being run over on the field. The offensive solution was to "execute better," which was an audio loop from player to player. Walking away after a 31-6 loss to Utah on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Bruins could view this as a rerun.
October 29, 2011 |
The up and down UCLA Bruins found their way back up Saturday night against California at the Rose Bowl. The last time UCLA played, more than a week ago at Arizona, the Bruins lost by 36 points. But the one thing the Bruins have going for themselves is that they haven't lost two games in a row this season ?- and they haven't won two in a row, either. The victory over California improved the Bruins to 4-4 overall, 3-2 in Pacific 12 Conference play. California dropped to 4-4 and 1-4. UCLA was good on offense and defense in overpowering California.
October 18, 2011 |
On the off chance the telephone rings at Dietrich Riley's apartment on NFL draft day this spring, the UCLA safety has an answer ready: Andrew Luck. Stanford's Heisman Trophy contender would certainly be the first quarterback Riley would pick . . . unless it was Arizona's Nick Foles. "Yeah, Foles is just as good," Riley said. UCLA defensive players should be a great source for information on quarterbacks heading into the 2012 draft. The Bruins this season face three quarterbacks currently projected as first-round picks — Luck, Foles and USC's Matt Barkley.
September 22, 2011 |
Tony Dye sat outside the UCLA football team's locker room, his head resting against a wall while ice packs soothed his muscles. His body was winding down after a practice, but his mind was churning full speed. "This is going to be different this week, I promise you," said Dye, the Bruins' starting free safety and a team captain. "There will be big hits. There will be great tackles. " Dye never raised his voice but spoke with the intensity of a big-tent preacher. With UCLA preparing to face a downtrodden Oregon State team Saturday in Corvallis, it was clear he'd had enough of the way the Bruins — himself included — play defense.
September 8, 2011 |
UCLA is hoping that San Jose State provides a feel-good game for its defense this week, after the Bruins were carved up by Houston. "We are a better defense than we showed last week," defensive end Datone Jones said. "We're attacking more. It's a whole new mentality. " Maybe. But last week that resulted in a same-old result. In a 38-34 loss, UCLA was torched for 469 total yards, with Houston quarterback Case Keenum throwing for 310. The Cougars also gained 159 yards rushing, a worrisome statistic for the Bruins, who ranked 108th among 120 major-college teams last year against the run. Why would this week be different?
August 12, 2011 |
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel , asked about the pressure the Bruins' defense might apply, had a coy answer ready: "We want to have the ability to bring pressure when it is the prudent thing to do. " When is it prudent? To defensive coordinator Joe Tresey , that appears to be any day the sun comes up. There is a new aggressiveness to the way the Bruins play defense, as was evident in recent during practices. "It's great," free safety Tony Dye said. "I'm not thinking anymore, I'm just going.
February 8, 2011 |
UCLA seems to be suffering from a lack of coordination. Twice in the 52 days since defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough was fired Dec. 18, Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel appeared on the verge of filling the position. Yet, with Neuheisel just returned from vacation Tuesday, UCLA still has that key role and two other coaching vacancies to fill. In the latest near miss, Seattle Seahawks assistant Rocky Seto was offered the job Feb. 1 only to have Neuheisel change his mind the following day. Seto said in a telephone interview Tuesday that Neuheisel "verbally offered me the job and I said yes. " However, the next day, "he called and said it wasn't the right time and they were moving in another direction.