UCLA defensive players head into Saturday’s game against Nevada better prepared than most to face the pistol offense.
The Bruins ran the offense in 2010 and 2011. It was not a success, but the adventure may now pay off. Members of the UCLA defensive unit have a working knowledge of the offense, having faced it in practice.
“The pistol is a strange offense,” defensive end Cassius Marsh said, adding, “It is definitely a familiar sight for us.”
The background “will definitely help us recognize formations and blocking schemes.”
Linebacker Anthony Barr has a deeper knowledge, having played on offense as an F-back those two seasons.
“I’m pretty familiar with it, especially the position,” Barr said. “I know what they like to do with the F, either kick out the defensive end or pass him up and go to the next level. I’ve tried to give my linebacker guys, and the defense, a couple clues what they might do.”
Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt said the base understanding helps “because it is the very first game, so you don’t have tape on the opponent. It’s nice to be able to look back and see the offense we played against in practice. We did pretty well against it.”
Trouble is, Nevada is expected to make alterations to the offense under second-year coordinator Nick Rolovich.
“They weren’t nice enough to send any practice film of it,” UCLA Coach Jim Mora joked.
UCLA has moved forward on a football-specific facility and is seeking bids on what officials envision as a $35-50-million facility, according to a person familiar with the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The first phase will be a football house at Spaulding Field, with a locker room, strength and conditioning room, coaches offices and a players’ lounge. The second phases will be at the adjacent Acosta Center, where players will have a training table for meals.
The facility will be funded through donations and could take up to five years to complete once an architect is hired.
Brian Polian, Nevada’s first-year head coach, made the rounds as an assistant coach, from Buffalo to South Bend, Ind., to College Station, Texas. We know this much about him: he’s quotable.
With the smoke from wildfires hovering over Reno during the last week, Polian said, “Who could imagine that someone from Reno would be dying to get to Los Angeles to improve air quality?”
There are 31 players on the Nevada roster from the L.A. area. Few, if any, were recruited by UCLA. But Polian said, “I’m not going to do the ‘win one for the Gipper’ speech because guys didn’t get recruited by UCLA. … Save that stuff for YouTube. The energy from that kind of speech lasts about two series.”
As for playing in the Rose Bowl, Polian said, “You can embrace the moment, but it’s still a football game, whether it’s in the Rose Bowl or an asphalt parking lot in L.A..”
Jordon James and Steven Manfro will get the majority of the work at running back for UCLA.
“Jordon is our starter right now and Steven is our backup guy,” Mora said. “Those are the two guys we’re going to ride most often.”
Paul Perkins and Malcolm Jones would also have roles, Mora said.
Nose tackle Eli Ankou, who injured his left knee Tuesday, underwent an MRI exam Wednesday. UCLA is waiting for the results.