Thursday, 07 December 2017 15:02

Thinking UCLA Football

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Jim MoraWhat a whirlwind of a season for the UCLA football team, undefeated at home and winless on the road. Bruin fans watched the Jim Mora era sink into the sunset, an era that once held such promise. What went wrong?

One could say that injuries played a large part of Mora and his program’s downfall. The mantra of next man up didn’t quite work when called upon, especially the injury to Josh Rosen in 2016. Once the Bruin quarterback went down, UCLA only won one more game all season.

The season of 2015 was very disappointing for the Bruins starting the season off with four straight wins and was ranked as high No. 7 in the nation. The Bruins finished the season 4-5, losing three out of the last four.  UCLA’s defense was getting what become all too familiar with Bruin fans, easy to run on and not being able to stop the run was the catalyst for the Bruin late-season losses. The feeling within the program was we have to become a more physical football team.

Mora wanted to change the direction of the program. The move was going towards a more physical brand of football on both sides of the ball.

Out went the high-flying Noel Mazzone offense and in came a more, hopefully, physical run-oriented system. Before the new offense in 2016 could really take flight, Rosen was hurt and missed the rest of the season.

Out went the entire offensive staff, except tight end coach, Rip Scherer. The offense was a pleasant surprise in 2017, but the defense reverted back to be porous against the run and the rumblings of the powerful within the alums became intense. The writing was on the wall.

After the loss to USC, it all came to a head and Mora was released. His overall record at UCLA was 46-30 while he was 28-26 in Pac-12 play, but more importantly, Mora was 29-11 during his first three years on the job and 17-19 his last three. Going into the 2017 season Mora was on the hot seat and he needed his team to perform better than 500. The writing was on the wall.

Still, Mora made positive contributions to the Bruin football program. During Mora’s first three seasons on the job, he was able to bring energy to the program that would motivate boosters to make significant upgrades to UCLA’s facilities. Without that excitement about the football program maybe everything would have stayed status quo, but the reality is UCLA has facilities second to none.

With the hiring of Chip Kelly will the program finally get the consistency it needs on both sides of the ball?

Being solid on one side and an Achilles Heel on the other has been a plague on this program way too often over the years. If Kelly can achieve the same kind of success at UCLA that he was able to obtain at Oregon then finally Bruin fans will get a taste of excellence in its football program so long desired and hoped for.

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