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When UCLA football assistant Jeff Ulbrich speaks, it can get dicey

UCLA football assistant Jeff Ulbrich calls it as he sees it

In a college football world of mostly careful-what-you-say assistant coaches, UCLA's Jeff Ulbrich is unique.

UCLA and Kansas State defensive coaches and players spoke Tuesday during a Valero Alamo Bowl news conference. Ulbrich, UCLA's defensive coordinator, sat at the head table and noted the microphones, name cards and bright lights. Asked to make an opening statement he said, "Holy smokes, this is official. I'm not ready for this."

Oh, yes he was. In his way.

Ulbrich waded through some questions, then offered a critique of the event. The news conference, with only defensive personnel, was set up wrong, he said.

"You need to bring the offensive staff in here next year," Ulbrich said. "Have a fight-night weigh-in, face-to-face with altercations. It would be awesome. Yeah, that would be sweet."

Ulbrich does try to offer standard coach-speak. He just can't help himself sometimes.

This has been a rocky first year as coordinator for Ulbrich, who was promoted from linebackers coach after last season.

There was the sideline rant directed at Coach Jim Mora during UCLA's loss to Oregon. There were defensive lapses, particularly in the run defense. The Bruins gave up an average of 27.5 points per game, up by a little more than four points over 2013.

With several new starters in its front seven, the Bruins gambled a little more this season.

Sometimes taking chances worked. UCLA held No. 10 Arizona to 255 yards in a 17-7 victory.

Sometimes it didn't. A 6-5 Stanford team trampled the Bruins, 31-10.

Through it all, Ulbrich has offered honest, and entertaining, answers. Asked Tuesday about Tyler Lockett, Kansas State's star receiver, Ulbrich shook his head and said, "he's a pain in the [butt]."

Familiar face

Remember when Kansas State defensive coordinator Tom Hayes was an assistant at UCLA from 1980 to 1988, the last seven seasons as defensive coordinator?

"I had a lot more hair and it was dark," Hayes said.

UCLA won three Rose Bowls in that span, part of an eight-game bowl winning streak.

There are 11 Kansas State players on the roster, all fifth-year seniors, who also have a UCLA connection. Their first college game was a 31-22 victory over the Bruins in 2010.

None played in that game, but safety Randall Evans said, "it's something special to finish with them."

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