Spread offense taking hold for No. 25 UCLA
BERKELEY — First-year coach Jim Mora figured it would take some time before No. 25 UCLA looked polished running the spread offense, and he’s still not sure the Bruins are there.
What Mora has seen recently makes him believe it won’t be long before they are.
UCLA (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) is averaging nearly 560 yards and is off to its best start since 2007, heading into its game Saturday at California.
Johnathan Franklin is the fourth-leading rusher in the country with 139.4 yards a game while redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley ranks 17th in the nation for total offense.
The two combined for 406 yards and four touchdowns in UCLA’s 42-14 win at Colorado last week.
“We were smoother in our operation and our tempo was more like we want it to be,” Mora said. “You want it to start and happen right from the get-go but that’s probably not realistic with a new system, new program, new coaches, new terminology. It just takes you a little while to ramp up, and I think we’re starting to hit our groove a little bit.”
Franklin, who leads all running backs from BCS automatic-qualifying conference schools in rushing, is the biggest reason for UCLA’s resurgence. He has rushed for over 100 yards in four of five games and needs only 366 to become the school’s career leader.
Hundley has also come up big since beating out former starter Kevin Prince in training camp.
The UCLA quarterback has passed for 1,470 yards and 11 touchdowns with only three interceptions while completing nearly 66 percent of his throws. Hundley has also rushed for 165 yards and four scores, and is coming off a stellar game against Colorado.
“He’s doing a nice job with what they’re doing, pulling it when he needs to pull it and making positive yards,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “He’s very comfortable in their system.”
Tedford clearly isn’t comfortable these days and has come under fire for his team’s poor start.
A newly renovated stadium that cost upward of $320 million raised expectations but the Bears have been unable to deliver anything close to what boosters and alumni had hoped.
Cal (1-4, 0-2) has lost three straight games, with its lone win coming against Southern Utah of the FCS on Sept. 8. The Bears need to win five of their final seven just to become bowl eligible, a monumental task at this point.
“I’m miserable, can’t stand it. There’s nothing worse right now,” Tedford said. “But I’m not going to sit in my office and cry about it. We have a job to do and the players have to understand the same thing. No one’s happy with where we are.”
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