UCLA Bruins are not looking back

Published: Saturday, Aug. 4 2012 9:02 p.m. MDT

Editor's note: 10th in a series previewing the Pac-12 football season.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — New UCLA head coach Jim Mora isn't looking back. He made that clear when asked about what the Bruins were lacking in 2011.

"You know what? I don't know what they had or didn't have last season. That's not my concern," Mora said at Pac-12 Media Day. "My concern is what we have now and going forward."

To move that direction, Mora noted that the Bruins are implementing three main things — toughness, discipline and accountability.

"We're not looking at the past," he explained. "We're looking toward the future."

Things are changing at UCLA.

Mora, who has 25 years of NFL coaching experience including stints as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks, is using his pro background to shake things up a bit. This is his first collegiate job since holding a defensive assistant post at the University of Washington in 1984.

One immediate change is moving training camp to San Bernardino.

"I wanted us to be in an environment where we were isolated as a football team," Mora explained. "I think it's important as we start this journey that we get to know each other very well."

Mora noted that one difference between college and pro football involves the end of the day in training camp. Many college players return to their apartments after practice, and he didn't want that.

"I want us to be in an environment where if we're going to talk to somebody it's going to be a teammate or coach," Mora said. "If we're going to go out and do something fun together, it's going to be with a teammate or a coach."

No friends, no girlfriends, no parents.

"I want our football team to be together for two weeks where we can bond, work together (and) get to know each other better," Mora said. "So when we hit the rough patches in the road that are inevitable in any season we can depend on each other and we know about each other."

OFFENSE: New coordinator Noel Mazzone makes the move from Arizona State to UCLA after two seasons. Under his direction, the Sun Devils averaged 445.8 yards and 33.2 points in 2011. Senior Kevin Prince, who has 26 career starts, is the most experienced quarterback in the program. Six other starters also return on offense.

DEFENSE: Eight starters and last season's top seven tacklers are back in the mix. They'll be playing for a new coordinator in Lou Spanos, who has spent the past 17 years as an NFL assistant. Senior Patrick Larimore, junior Jordan Zumwalt and sophomore Eric Kendricks are solid starting linebackers with a combined 218 tackles in 2011.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior punter Jeff Locke ranked 12th in the nation with a 44.3 yard average last season. He also pinned 26 kicks inside the 20. True freshman Ka'imi Fairbairn could end up as the placekicker. Return specialists will be determined in fall camp.

PLAYMAKERS: Franklin was just 24 yards away from becoming the first UCLA player since 2000-01 to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. On defense, sophomore safety Tevin McDonald is a player to watch. He picked off three passes against California last year and went on to earn Freshman All-American recognition.

TOUGH STRETCH: Good news and bad news for the Bruins. First the negative, they close out Pac-12 play with games against projected contenders USC and Stanford. On the positive side, both games will be played at the Rose Bowl. Question is, will it matter?

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