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Tag:UCLA
Posted on: January 9, 2012 1:19 pm
 

UCLA dismisses three players

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The first inevitable sign that a new regime has taken over at UCLA has arrived: roster turnover.

The Bruins announced Monday that three players have departed the program: redshirt sophomore defensive end Wesley Flowers, freshman tight end Raymond Nelson, and junior defensive back Randall Carroll

“At UCLA, we have a high set of standards that we expect every student-athlete to adhere to. Unfortunately, these three gentlemen choose not to do so,” new Bruin head coach Jim L. Mora said. 

Flowers and Nelson were dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules, while Carroll "failed to meet UCLA’s academic requirements" and is no longer enrolled at the school. 

Where their on-field impact is concerned, Carroll might be the biggest loss; the one-time star recruit (who Rick Neuheisel once lured away from USC to acclaim) still only collected two tackles this season, one fewer than the ostensible corner earned in receptions as a receiver. Flowers struggled to find the field after several injuries, and though Nelson saw action in eight games as a true freshman, he did not record a reception.

The bigger takeaway is that Mora -- like most coaches tasked with overhauling a stagnant program -- is wasting no time making over the Bruins in his preferred image. Mora has already declared an end to the Bruins' "over the wall" tradition and hired a former NFL player of hisSeattle Seahawks special teams coach Jeff Ulbrich, as the Bruins' new linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. The Bruins only narrowly missed on hiring longtime San Diego Chargers assistant John Pagano as their new defensive coordinator; he was promoted to the same position with the Chargers instead.

Mora's choice at offensive coordinator was more conservative (grabbing Noel Mazzone after his dismissal at Arizona State), but nonetheless, Mora has clearly begun putting his stamp on the program. But dismissing a handful of rule-breaking players and hiring position coaches are one thing--salvaging what had looked like another lackluster recruiting class will speak even more loudly, and it looks like Mora's well on his way to accomplishing that, as well. 

It's still early to say anything's truly changed for the better in Westwood -- if Eye on CFB had existed when Neuheisel was hired, you might have been reading this same post four years ago -- but after developments like the dismissals and NFL-centric hiring approach, it's safe to say things have at least changed.

Want more Bruins football? Follow our CBSSports.com UCLA RapidReports, written by Sean Ceglinsky. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 4, 2012 3:28 pm
 

Pac-12 releases 2012 conference schedule

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Wednesday the Pac-12 released the 2012 conference schedule. The league put a wrap on the 2011 season earlier this week with Oregon's victory in the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin, and with no Pac-12 teams left on the bowl schedule fans are already salivating at the thoughts of what 2012 could bring to the conference.

Mike Leach (Washington State), Rich Rodgriguez (Arizona), Jim Mora (UCLA), and Todd Graham (Arizona State) will inject new life with their arrival to the conference, while USC welcomes back star quarterback Matt Barkley for the Trojans' first season of bowl eligibility since falling under NCAA sanctions.

Waiting for all of the challengers at the top of the pecking order will be Chip Kelly and the three-time Pac-12 champion Oregon. Check out the full conference schedule below and weigh in on the games you are looking forward to most.  My early pick is Nov. 3 when the Ducks travel to the Coliseum to face USC. 

Thur., Aug. 30
Northern Colorado at Utah

Sat., Sept. 1
Toledo at Arizona
Northern Arizona at Arizona State
Hawai’i at USC
UCLA at Rice
Nevada at California
San Jose State at Stanford
Arkansas State at Oregon
Nichols State at Oregon State
San Diego State at Washington
Washington State at BYU
Colorado vs. Colorado State (1)

Sat. Sept. 8
Oklahoma State at Arizona
Illinois at Arizona State
Southern Utah at California
USC vs. Syracuse (2)
Nebraska at UCLA
Duke at Stanford
Fresno State at Oregon
Wisconsin at Oregon State
Washington at LSU
Eastern Washington at Washington State
Sacramento State at Colorado
Utah at Utah State
Sat., Sept. 15
South Carolina State at Arizona
Arizona State at Missouri
USC at Stanford
Houston at UCLA
California at Ohio State
Tennessee Tech at Oregon
Portland State at Washington
Washington State at UNLV
Colorado at Fresno State
BYU at Utah

Sat., Sept. 22
Arizona at Oregon
Utah at Arizona State
California at USC
Oregon State at UCLA
Colorado at Washington State
Thur., Sept. 27
Stanford at Washington

Sat., Sept. 29
Oregon State at Arizona
Arizona State at California
UCLA at Colorado
Oregon at Washington State

Thurs., Oct. 4
USC at Utah

Sat., Oct. 6
Arizona at Stanford
UCLA at California
Washington at Oregon
Washington State at Oregon State

Thurs., Oct. 11
Arizona State at Colorado

Sat., Oct. 13
USC at Washington
Utah at UCLA
California at Washington State
Stanford at Notre Dame
Oregon State at BYU

Thurs., Oct. 18
Oregon at Arizona State

Sat., Oct. 20
Washington at Arizona
Colorado at USC
Stanford at California
Utah at Oregon State

Sat., Oct. 27
USC at Arizona
UCLA at Arizona State
California at Utah
Washington State at Stanford
Colorado at Oregon
Oregon State at Washington

Fri., Nov. 2
Washington at California

Sat., Nov. 3
Arizona at UCLA
Arizona State at Oregon State
Oregon at USC
Stanford at Colorado
Washington State at Utah

Sat., Nov. 10
Colorado at Arizona
Arizona State at USC
UCLA at Washington State
Oregon at California
Oregon State at Stanford
Utah at Washington

Sat., Nov. 17
Arizona at Utah
Washington State at Arizona State
USC at UCLA
California at Oregon State
Stanford at Oregon
Washington at Colorado

Fri., Nov. 23
Arizona State at Arizona
Washington at Washington State
Utah at Colorado

Sat., Nov. 24
Notre Dame at USC
Stanford at UCLA
Oregon at Oregon State

Fri., Nov. 30
Pac-12 Football Championship Game

Neutral Sites
(1) Invesco Field, Denver, Colo.
(2) MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Note: All Washington home games will be played at CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:13 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 7:13 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Illinois 20 UCLA 14



Posted by Tom Fornelli


ILLINOIS WON. There was not a lot of offense in this game, nor were there a lot of spectacular plays, but Illinois rode the strength of an outstanding defense to put an end to its six-game losing streak. With running back Jason Ford missing the game for Illinois, the Illini put the ball in Nathan Scheelhaase's hands and relied on him to do all the work on the offensive side of the ball. 

Scheelhaase finished the day with 249 yards of total offense and hit A.J. Jenkins for a 60-yard score in the fourth quarter to ice it. Still, the true star of the day was the Illinois defense, particularly defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus lived up to his name, terrorizing Kevin Prince and the UCLA offense all day as the Bruins only managed 220 yards of offense in the game, with 38 of those yards coming on a touchdown pass in the final minute of the game after this one was essentially over.

WHY ILLINOIS WON. Defense, defense, defense, a little more defense, and then some defense. Illinois' offense only managed one touchdown and two field goals in the game, as cornerback Terry Hawthorne provided the other 7 Illini points with a pick-six in the third quarter that turned the tide of this game.

WHEN ILLINOIS WON. When Scheelhaase hit Jenkins for the 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter with 5:36 left on the clock to make it 20-7, there wasn't much reason to believe UCLA could overcome a two-score deficit given how this game was going.

WHAT ILLINOIS WON. For the first time in school history, Illinois won consecutive bowl games in back-to-back seasons. Which is about as much as the Illini could hope for considering how the season started and the firing of head coach Ron Zook.

WHAT UCLA LOST. UCLA lost a game, but it also won the end of a 2011 season that did not feature a lot of highlights and saw Rick Neuheisel get fired. The Bruins can now move forward to what they hope will be a much brighter 2012.

BOWL GRADE: F. I'm sorry, I went into this game with the absolute lowest of expectations. Both teams were under interim coaching staffs that won't be returning next season, and neither team had a winning record coming in. Illinois had lost six straight and UCLA was just as big of a mess. You would think those low expectations would only leave me pleasantly surprised by what took place in this game, but I wasn't. It was exactly what I expected it to be, and it was incredibly boring. It may as well have been called the Fight Narcolepsy Bowl. That said, I have to give the players credit. They may not have played well, but they showed up and played. Nobody was just going through the motions, but that being said, this was still a very boring game.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:58 pm
 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. 

UCLA's pistol offense vs. Illinois defensive line

When it comes to stopping UCLA's Pistol, an attacking front four can cause havoc against the run-based offense. The Bruins have been pretty good on the ground this year - one of the few things they've seemed to execute ok - finishing 29th in the country with 190 yards per game rushing. Kevin Prince wasn't the greatest signal-caller (1,627 yards passing, 10-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio) but was a solid trigger man who could pull the ball and run for a first down when needed. Johnathan Franklin had a big game against Colorado but other than that was nothing to write home about after being held under 100 yards rushing in all but three games this season. Fellow back Derrick Coleman was on and off throughout the year but turned in a productive season.

Though the Bruins have faced some good defensive lines, they haven't faced anybody like defensive end Whitney Mercilus. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound All-American led the country in sacks with 14.5 and led the conference in tackles for loss with a total of 19.5 for the year. Though Illinois struggled down the stretch by losing six straight, it wasn't because of the defense, which finished seventh overall in total defense. Michael Buchanan finished 8th in the Big Ten in tackles for a loss playing on the line and was also a disruptive force at times this season. If the line can get penetration and make some plays, that allows the back seven to matchup well against UCLA's skill position talent that hasn't done much all at all outside of Nelson Rosario. Freeing up linebacker Jonathan Brown to make some plays will be something to watch if the Illini want to win the game.

Points might be hard to come by given the way Illinois' offense has looked down the stretch so that puts the pressure on the defense once again. If the team has any hope of ending the slide, they're going to have to limit big plays from an offense that can create some with misdirection. A good push from the defensive line against a bad UCLA offensive line is where things start.

On the other side, if the Bruins want to avoid going 6-8 on the year, the offense has to execute less like they did against USC and show some of the signs of life like they did against Oregon. Prince can pick up first downs and there should be a solid rushing game but if the o-line can't block Mercilus and the defensive line, interim head coach Mike Johnson could be in for a long night.

Posted on: December 28, 2011 8:44 pm
 

Keys to the game: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

UCLA WILL WIN IF: The defense has to step up and get some stops. The Bruins defense looked better in the Pac-12 Championship game than they did in the regular season finale but still gave up nearly half a hundred. The secondary is young but has come along late in the season and should be healthier than they were at the end of the year. Both lines need for a few players to step up and become solid contributors this game, especially along the disappointing defensive line that was among the country's worst at getting into the backfield. The offense should be solid but if UCLA wants to get back to .500 for the season, they're going to need the defense to play the best they have since the Colorado game in mid-November.

ILLINOIS WILL WIN IF: The Illini have a pretty solid defense that has surprised some folks this season so it's up to the offense to use the extra time off before the game to get things going again. Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has already left the team and that might be a good thing considering the team averaged just 11 points per game in their six game losing streak to end the season. Luckily their weakness (the offensive line) is matched up against the Bruins' weakness (the front seven - without middle linebacker Patrick Larimore) so it's likely quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase could have some time to make some plays. You can probably put All-American defensive end Whitney Mercilus down for a big game against the UCLA line he'll be facing.

X-FACTOR: Does anybody really want to be here? That seems to be the biggest question surrounding the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl given that two interim head coaches will be leading two teams that ended the year by falling flat on their faces. Illinois, sans Ron Zook, lost six straight games and you would figure that they want to get that taste out of their mouths. UCLA was thumped in their final two games to become the first team to make a bowl game at 6-7 and has several players who didn't make the trip up to the Bay Area due to a variety of reasons. Needless to say, motivation will be an issue in this one.

Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Report: Chris Petersen not interested in Penn St.

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Well, you can't blame Penn State for trying, can you? 

The Nittany Lions are conducting what by their own admission has a been a "deliberate and measured" search for Joe Paterno's replacement and are the final FBS team to fill their 2011 head coaching vacancy. But any complaints would have been quickly silenced if they could become the program that finally pries away Chris Petersen from Boise State. It's no surprise a Penn St. official reportedly visited Idaho twice last week in an effort to make the program's pitch to Petersen. 

But like every other previous suitor for the Bronco coach's services, that pitch has fallen on deaf ears--if it was ever even heard in the first place. The Patriot-News's David Jones has reported that Petersen "has made it known he is not interested in Penn State's vacant head coaching position."

Jones writes that the decision is "no shocker," and surely it isn't; after he turned down all manner of high-profile jobs the previous several offseasons (including UCLA earlier this month), convincing Petersen to take a scandal-plagued position that several lesser coaches have already shied away from was always the longest of long shots.

But given the position Penn State finds itself in -- no coach and not even any real leads on one, with Signing Day rapidly approaching and the fanbase growing more nervous by the day -- Petersen was the kind of prize that was worth taking that shot anyway. The only criticism to be made is if that shot came out of desperation, and with it having failed, the search is poised to go on for several more days ... or even weeks.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 6:20 pm
 

Illinois RB Jason Ford ineligible for bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Coachless 6-7 UCLA and coachless 6-6 Illinois's matchup in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has been panned as one of the least intriguing of the bowl season from the day it was announced, and the Bruins haven't seemed particularly interested in the game themselves, skipping out on practice and having four players miss the game through academic and team rules issues. But just to prove they can match their opponent step-for-step in indifference as well as lack of regular season wins, the Illini have now also announced a major absence from the game.

The player in question is leading rusher Jason Ford, who the Illini have confirmed will be academically ineligible for the bowl and will not make the trip to San Francisco. The announcement ends the career of Ford, a senior with 1,962 rushing yards.

Reserve wide receiver Jake Kumerow will also miss the game through academics. 

Ford appeared in at least 12 games all four years of his Illini career but had to wait to wait until the 2011 season for a chance as the featured back thanks to Mikel LeShoure. While Ford's total of 600 yards and 7 touchdowns led the Illini in both categories this year, an expected breakout season failed to materialize as Ford reached the 100-yard mark just one time (vs. Penn State) and averaged just 3.9 yards per-carry. His 26 career rushing touchdowns do place him second on the Illinois all-time list in that category.

Ford will likely be replaced by fellow senior Troy Pollard, who totaled 462 yards this season but on only 62 carries, a 7.5 yard average.

 
Posted on: December 21, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Mora blasts Bruins and "over the wall" tradition

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College football has many ... unusual traditions that have endured for decades despite being, you know ... unusual, and since that's part of what makes the sport such a vital part of so many communities and the American sporting landscape as a whole, we want to be sensitive to those traditions. That even goes for one as ... unusual as UCLA's annual "over the wall" tradition, in which the senior Bruins skip practice en masse by leaping over the facility's south wall after pre-practice stretching.

New Bruins head coach Jim Mora, however, doesn't have to be sensitive at all. And following the latest edition of "over the wall" at Tuesday's UCLA practice, he most certainly wasn't:
“It’s completely unacceptable ... I can just tell you in no uncertain terms that that tradition will not be a part of tradition going forward. [Athletic director] Dan Guerrero and I have spoken about it and we both agreed that the culture of UCLA football needs to change. That was part of the interview process and so we’re going to do all we can to make sure we change it.”

“I can tell you this, my general feeling is if they feel that they want to skip out on practice and jump over a wall then they might as well just keep going because they’re not a part of what I want to be a part of ...

You know Dan Guerrero gave these kids an opportunity to compete one last time for UCLA and it really bothers me personally knowing Dan how I do that they disrespected that gesture if you will that he presented them in going to this bowl game ... It’s a tradition that these guys have grown up with and it’s just a tradition needs to end. And so I hope they had fun going over the wall or whatever you call it yesterday because it’s the last time they’re going over the wall.” 
To their credit, not every Bruin glad to see another revival of "over the wall." "A lot of the guys unfortunately are OK with it," quarterback Kevin Prince said. "It's in the past and we're just going to forget about it for now and in the future make sure it doesn't happen anymore." 

Mora naturally appreciated that reponse, saying that "the kind of players that are going to fill this roster from now on are guys that would be pissed off about it." But of course, those are apparently not the kinds of players that are on the UCLA roster right now; the seniors leading the charge "over the wall," at least, are the kind of players that would walk out on a critical day of preparation for their final college game and deprive the rest of the roster of a chance to work towards better things in 2012. 

Sorry if that's insensitive; we're not condemning the "over the wall" tradition itself, or at least we're trying not to. But we also don't blame Mora one bit for every ounce of condemnation he's steered the tradition's way or -- it has to be said -- in the direction of the "leadership" of his 6-7 football team.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com