Here are a few question from the BRO Premium Football Forum that have been asked recently and answered by BRO Publisher Tracy Pierson. To get more information like this, and interact with other die-hard UCLA fans, go the BRO Premium Football Forum
I think the the real question for me I'm getting to is, has Mora reached his ceiling or are we still on the upswing? Or is this the part where we slowly devolve into a .500 program over the next 4 years?
Tracy Pierson: I think, first, you can't under-appreciate how the program has been transformed under Mora. Remember where the program was at the end of the Neuheisel era -- not just the play on the field but so many things off the field, too. It seriously now is unrecognizable., comparatively. Regardless of anything else, Mora gets a huge amount of credit for that, I think, and it has to stand alone as an incredibly successful accomplishment. No matter how successful Mora ever is on the field, I think in the future we'll all look back on his transformation of the program as a critical turning point in UCLA football's development.
In the Mora era, there is now clearly another level to take this program. Obviously the fans (and those on this board) acknowledge it, and but everyone in the program, including the coaches, know it. There are so many things in place right now -- recruiting has been very good under Mora, creating great depth of talent on the roster; you have a once-in-a-lifetime talent at quarterback in Josh Rosen, and the program's off-the-field support is at its highest level ever. I think everyone recognizes that there is a window of opportunity here for UCLA's football program that has to be taken advantage of. Mora would be the first to tell you that.
I think there is too much talent on the roster for the next several years for it to "devolve into a .500 program." But it faces the challenge of going from an 8/10-win type of team, to 11+ and a Pac-12 championship. I think Mora has made some moves to see if he can push the program to that level -- instituting new offensive and defensive schemes, with the offensive scheme specifically engineered to take advantage of Rosen.
It will certainly be fun to watch.
My one question is...what is your worry about the offensive line? It seems like a problem this year and the long term trend looks worse IMO.
Tracy Pierson: Looking at the depth chart overall, the OL is definitely the unit of concern. With the loss of Jake Raulerson, and more than likely Tevita Halalilo for the season, playable depth is thin. The performance of this unit and the health of the starters could be the biggest contributing factor to the outcome of the season, in my opinion.
Tracy, I agree that the program has had a dramatic transformation under Mora. But he became coach just as the school got a lot more TV money (even without the Pac 12 network becoming a significant revenue generator), which allowed us to hire better quality coordinators and position coaches. Given the inherent advantages at UCLA, wasn't the resurrection of the program destined to happen once we got the combination of more TV money and a competent coach?
Tracy Pierson: I think there was some beneficial timing, sure.
But I give the majority of the credit to Mora.
Remember, for years I said it would take a strong personality to change UCLA football, a coach who just didn't accept no for an answer from UCLA and won enough to have some power. That's what Mora was, and is.
While some opportunities and resources became available, Mora either helped to create them, created them himself, or took as much advantage of them as possible, unlike I think his predecessors or perhaps someone else would have.
Tracy, is Mora the same ultra hungry, aggressive guy he was when he got to UCLA?
Mora is built as an ultra-competitive person. I don't think he can shut that off.
Because of that he gets frustrated with the restrictions he faces at UCLA at times. And frustrations can sometimes be all mixed in together. Last year, there were some on-the-field developments that really hurt the team (loss of Jack, Vanderdoes, and multiple starters), and I think the team had some disappointing losses that they should have won (loss to Washington State and the disappointing manner in which UCLA loss to Nebraska in the bowl game), losses that would have changed the complexity of the season. If I'm psychoanalyzing Mora, I'd say the frustrations from all of those came together last season in one big ball of frustration. And I'm sure he know he and the coaching staff could have done better and is frustrated over that, too.
That's why I said I think the staff realizes they have a window of opportunity here. It would have been easy and complacent to stick with basically the same schemes, but Mora is taking a risk putting in new schemes to try to take advantage of Rosen and push the program to the next level. I think that's an indication that Mora isn't complacent himself and very much can't turn off his competitiveness.
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