Season Report Card: UCLA Bruins
The Bruins finished at 10-3 overall in Mora's second year as head coach, and found the Pac-12 gauntlet quite difficult with road games in back-to-back weeks against Stanford and Oregon, as well as the season finale against the USC Trojans.
However, Mora showed that UCLA certainly has the talent to compete for a Pac-12 title, and if not for the close home loss to eventual Pac-12 South champion Arizona State late in the season, the Bruins could have played in the conference title game.
Despite rumors that Mora was being courted by high-profile schools around the country to take their head coaching job, he chose to stay in Pasadena in order to continue building this program into a dominant force in college football.
With that said, let's grade the Bruins on their successful 2013 campaign:
To say that the UCLA offense ran through quarterback Brett Hundley would be a massive understatement. Hundley was this offense, accounting for 35 touchdowns on the season en route to leading the Bruins to a 36.9 points per game scoring average. Shaquelle Evans became Hundley's favorite target through the air, as the senior wideout caught 47 balls for 9 touchdowns on the year. It's also worth noting that Mora's team converted nearly half of its third down conversions to earn one of the best marks in the nation in that category.
The Bruin defense held opponents to only 23 points per game, and were one of the nation's best in two important categories: opponent third down conversions and forced fumbles. The opposition only converted on 34% of third down opportunities, and the defense forced 17 fumbles (and recovered 12 of them) on the year. Eric Kendricks led a solid linebacker unit, leading the team in total tackles with 105.
There's a reason why Mora was coveted for such a high-profile job like Texas -- the guy knows how to motivate young athletes, which in turns leads to big time success on the football field. In only his second year at the helm, he led the team to double-digit wins for the first time in nearly a decade. This program is only going to get better with Mora in charge.
Although they would have liked to be more competitive in the two spotlight Pac-12 games against Stanford and Oregon, Hundley and the Bruins made it known that they are trending upward. As long as Mora is the coach, UCLA will continue to bring in top talent from around the nation, and sooner rather than later, they'll be playing for the conference crown.
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