UCLA Football: 5 Things That Will Keep Jim L. Mora Up at Night
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There's not one college football head coach that sleeps well during the regular season. Some sleep better than others, but insomnia runs rampant throughout the months of August-January.
UCLA Bruins head man Jim L. Mora isn't exempt from this category, and he'll have certain issues that will surely preclude him from meeting Mr. Sandman.
Here are five things that will keep the Bruins head coach up at night...
The Injury Bug
ILB Patrick Larimore has been dealing with a concussion
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The Bruins have been absolutely ravaged with injury in this month of spring practice.
Over 20 players have missed some period of time during the spring with various ailments. The most severe of injuries occurred with walk-on corner back Librado Barocio and linebacker Isaiah Bowens, who both suffered torn ACLs.
A major issue with the litany of injuries is the lack of available bodies for practice. As a result, depth cannot really be built in a sufficient manner.
The silver lining with this predicament is that it does give younger and underutilized members of the team a chance to shine and impress the new coaching staff.
Of those players, senior Jerry Johnson, rising junior Owamagbe Odighizuwa and redshirt freshman Steven Manfro are three that have really capitalized on the opportunity.
Inevitably with the lack of healthy bodies, certain positions on the roster are considerably thin.
Both starting inside linebackers Patrick Larimore and Eric Kendricks have suffered from a concussion and a banged up shoulder, respectively.
Wide receiver Ricky Marvray has been recovering from back surgery that has kept him out of the second half of spring ball.
Starting safety Andrew Abbott had surgery to repair a torn meniscus, while projected starting left tackle Torian White has been dealing with a sore hip.
Offensive guard Wade Yandall has been constantly battling concussion-like symptoms, surely stemming from the four concussions he's suffered in the past two years.
Getting healthy is surely the focus in the upcoming months. The summer should allow for the majority of the roster to recuperate and be ready for fall practice.
The Offensive Line
The OL has been decimated by injury
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Did you hear that loud scream?! That was the sound of Mora waking up from a nightmare. What was the nightmare about?
The current shape of the offensive line.
Currently, the battered offensive line has the depth of a piece of paper.
The leader of the line is senior Jeff Baca. Baca's versatility makes him arguably the most valuable member of the line. He literally can play—and has played—every position on the offensive line during his tenure at UCLA.
In addition, projected starting center Greg Capella can also play guard in a pinch if need be. With the lack of viable depth, he might be forced to play guard, opening up a starting spot at center for redshirt freshman Jake Brendel.
A big boost to UCLA's efforts this season has been the return of Xavier Su'a-Filo. The Utah native is easily the most physically gifted offensive lineman on the roster.
He'll be slotted in as the left tackle, with the unenviable task of protecting the quarterback's blind side.
White is high on potential, but extremely green on experience. He still has to get physically stronger, but the talent is there.
Yandall is the projected starter at right guard. However, there's no certainty that he'll ever play football again due to the multiple concussions he's suffered. Yandall practiced sparingly this spring before exiting due to a recurring headache.
The depth is a huge issue with this group. When separating the starting five from the rest of the group, there is a considerable drop in talent.
With this in mind, Mora sees incoming freshmen Simon Goines and Carl Hulick as possible early contributors.
The Quarterback Position
Will Hundley be the starter?
The "things that will keep Mora up at night" description might be a tad melodramatic when speaking about the quarterback position.
However, one has to be cognizant of the well-documented troubles plaguing the pass game in the last few year.
The quarterback play at UCLA has been a considerable problem within the last decade. This massive area of concern has effectively crippled the program, while in the process compromising the prospects of multiple past seasons.
That's not to say that the current options can't get the job done, but an immense amount of work is still needed.
At this point, the competition is seemingly down to redshirt freshman Brett Hundley and senior Richard Brehaut.
In the spring game this past weekend, Brehaut went 12-of-16 for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Hundley (who started the game), went 12-of-20 for 185 yards and one touchdown.
The rudimentary crux of the spread offense is very simplistic in nature. An attack predicated upon getting athletes out in space horizontally with diversified looks is what offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone is striving for.
Not only is it easier to comprehend, but it's also easier to retain when compared to the pistol.
Here is Mazzone speaking about the quarterback competition.
The "Unknown" Factor
Head coach Jim L. Mora
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Are you in, or are you out?
That is the mantra Mora has been preaching since his arrival in Westwood. For the members of the team, it's about completely buying into the program.
New-found levels of accountability are being incorporated expediently, and an overall shift in attitude truly does make this atmosphere foreign when compared to the former regime.
This current roster is not known as the most mentally strong group. A lack of consistency has been a staple within the program for the last few years.
Can they shake the levels of inconsistency under Mora? This won't be known until the season is in full swing. It’s also very plausible to think that some current members of the roster won’t be on the team when fall camp begins.
Time will tell whether the current members of the team can "practice what they preach."
The Excitement of the Upcoming Season
Johnathan Franklin hopes to score plenty of TDs this season
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On a positive note, Mora has got to be extremely excited about the upcoming season.
It just seems like Mora is tailor-made for the college game. His energy is infectious, and he displays the right balance of both discipline and personality.
A top-ranked recruiting class will be entering the program this upcoming summer, and the staff complied by the head man is one of the best in the conference.
Loads of optimism has befallen upon the program. However, it has a different feel to it from the past coaching staffs.
No longer is there a sense of "false confidence" driven by empty proclamations.
This is a new UCLA. Mora hopes that the identity of the program will be one predicated upon discipline, accountability and energy.
Come the fall, we'll see if the Bruins can shake the labels of being "soft" and "mediocre."
This footage of the spring game will surely excite the fanbase.