2012 UCLA Bruins Football Preview
2011 Record: 6-8 (5-4 PAC-12)
Head Coach: Jim L. Mora, first season (31-33 all in the NFL)
Projected Returning Starters: 16
Spring Game: May 5th
Notes: UCLA won the PAC-12 South last season, by default, based on USC being ruled ineligible for the post-season. Despite that, Coach Rick Neuheisel was fired after his fourth season as head coach. Neuheisel did a decent job recruiting, based on numbers run by recruiting services, but was never able to translate that into success on the field. The Bruins lost to Oregon in the PAC-12 Title game and also lost the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to Illinois. On December 10, 2011, UCLA announced Jim L. Mora would be the next head coach of the Bruins, signing him to a five-year, $12 million deal. Despite his lack of experience at the college level (Mora had not coached in college since 1984, when he was a graduate assistant with the Washington Huskies), he put together a staff that knew how to recruit – they landed the 12th best class this past season. Assistant coaches Eric Yarber, Demetrice Martin, Steve Broussard, and Adrian Klemm aided in the development of that recruiting class.
BVTSB Take: I wasn’t entirely impressed with the hire of Mora back in December. He lacked college experience and didn’t seem to be a great head coach at the NFL level. Still, there are plenty of guys who struggle at the NFL level, but do well in college. The most important thing Mora did was to surround himself with willing and able assistant coaches. Noel Mazzone will serve as offensive coordinator, having previously served as offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, Auburn, Oregon State, NC State, and, most recently, Arizona State. Lou Spanos will be defensive coordinator after serving as linebackers’ coach for the NFL’s Washington Redskins the past three seasons. Mora will have a decision to make – after the Spring Game, Coach Mora indicated that a starting quarterback will be announced in mid-August. Brett Hundley saw the first set of snaps in the Spring Game, followed by senior Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince. Prince played more time than Brehaut did last season, throwing for 1828 yards, 12 touchdowns, but 8 interceptions. Brehaut threw for 948 yards, 6 touchdowns, but 1 interception. Most importantly for UCLA, running back Johnathan Franklin returns. Franklin nearly rushed for 1000 yards last season and had five rushing touchdowns. Franklin split time with Derrick Coleman, who is now a member of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings (rushed for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011). The Bruins lose leading wide receiver Nelson Rosario to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers (1161 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 2011), but return Shaquelle Evans (309 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns) and TE Joseph Fauria (481 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns). Freshman Jordan Payton and senior Jerry Johnson are projected to start along side Evans. On the offensive line, C Greg Capella, RG Jeff Baca, and LT Xavier Su’a-Filo all return. Capella started all 14 games last season, Baca started 12, while Su’a-Filo started 13 in 2010 (was on a Mission in 2011). LG Alexandru Ceachir and RT Torian White are expected to be the other starters. UCLA was 1-2 in non-conference games last season, beating San Jose State at home, in a lackluster performance, while falling at Houston and home to Texas. UCLA was 2-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less last season, but were blown out by Stanford (lost by 26), Arizona (lost by 36), Utah (lost by 25), and USC (lost by 50). UCLA plays at Rice and home against Nebraska and Houston this season. Nebraska is likely a loss, but the Bruins could beat both Rice and Houston. Home games against Oregon State, Utah, and Arizona are potential wins, while games against USC and Stanford at the Rose Bowl will be tough. The Bruins play Colorado, California, Arizona State, and Washington State on the road. The road slate is fairly forgiving and will give the Bruins a great chance to improve upon their 2011 record, despite dropping back in the PAC-12 South standings.
2012 Early Projection: 8-4
To see the 2012 PAC-12 composite schedule, click here.
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