Besides Jim L. Mora being introduced as UCLA’s 19th head football coach at the Morgan Center on campus on Tuesday, here’s what has been up with that team as they get ready for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on December 31:
According to the Los Angeles Times on the gridiron front:
Marques Tuiasosopo, who interned for Rick Neuheisel this season, will work with the quarterbacks this month and may be hired as quarterbacks coach on a permanent basis by Mora – obviously if all goes well in the game against Illinois, the job will likely be as good as his.
“It’s strange. I came down here to help out a coach who I played for. Now I have a great opportunity,” Tuiasosopo said.
Mora has wasted little time in assembling a staff, hiring Adrian Klemm as his run-game coordinator and offensive line coach while bringing in Steve Broussard as wide receivers coach. Broussard served in that same capacity at Arizona State this year.
Linebacker Patrick Larimore, who was voted defensive most valuable player at the team banquet on Monday, with Nelson Rosario being chosen as offensive MVP, had surgery on this right thumb and is questionable for the bowl game against the Illini.
If the Bruins are to have a good chance at doing something on New Year’s Eve that they struggled mightily in this season – stopping the run – Larimore must be in the lineup.
Offensive guard Chris Ward will definitely be out in the game at AT&T Park as he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He’s scheduled to be ready for spring practice.
Meanwhile, on the basketball hardwood according to the Times:
Although the zone defense used against Penn worked, UCLA still needs to greatly improve defending the three point shot; Penn guard Tyler Bernardini was eight of 12 from the arc this past Saturday, and the Bruins ranked 337th out of 338 teams in defending three-pointers.
Only Mississippi Valley State is worse, and even then by a mere 10th of a percentage point.
“I think a zone is going to benefit us…we have to get better at it because we’re going to have it during the course of the season,” coach Ben Howland said.
As for Joshua Smith’s conditioning issues, Howland reported that he did some extra running before the game against Penn and on Monday after practice.
If I were him, I would be running the steps at Drake Stadium, the track facility on campus, as well as going on the treadmill and the stairmaster, as often as I can. That would improve his stamina.
Guards Tyler Lamb and De’End Parker have been struggling with injuries, Tyler with bursitis on his left hip and Parker with a knee injury and now food poisoning; he is not expected to play against Eastern Washington at the Sports Arena tonight.