How has your week gone? Probably better than the one the UCLA football program is having. Quarterback injuries, season ending injuries at other positions, a retirement, an uncalled for swipe at a player, decommits from recruits. And, oh yeah, they got hammered by Utah. It’s been an amazing seven days for the Bruins, and not in the good sense.
The starting quarterback was pulled in the second half of the Washington game two weeks ago with what was believed to be a hand injury. He took a lot of grief from ABC analyst, and NFL has-been Brock Huard for not being tough enough to get back in there and play.
Head coach Jim Mora did nothing to dispel the hand injury rumors leading up to Friday night’s game in Salt Lake City. It was only when Rosen did not make the trip to Utah that UCLA announced he had suffered a concussion in the Washington game. It turns out he had suffered it early in the first quarter, never told the coaches and tried to play through it. Take that, Huard.
In the interim, Rosen missed the Utah game, (so did most of the team for that matter. Check the score if you don’t believe us). Fan boards lit up with debate as to whether Rosen should risk further injury or sit out the rest of the dismal season. On the upside, and the Bruins need some upside, he has practiced twice this week and could play against Arizona State this weekend.
Sullen In Salt Lake
Of course, without Rosen, the UCLA offense had little chance against the Utes, and the Bruins got beat 48-17. The punter, Stefan Flintoft, had more yards than the entire offense. Backup quarterback Devon Modster was kept in with tight reigns, only being allowed to throw 12 times all game.
But the news after the game was less about another UCLA blowout loss and more about the physical blowouts. Modster had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with a hand injury. It turns out it is a broken thumb on his throwing hand. He is likely done for the season. Sadly, it got worse. Senior wide receiver Darren Andrews was injured in the fourth quarter when his cleats stuck in the artificial turf. He has a torn ACL and his UCLA career has ended. Defensive lineman Ainuu Taua tore his ACL and MCL while dislocating his kneecap on a kick return. It is anticipated he will require three surgeries and the injuries could be career ending.
Home Not So Sweet Home
Clearly, the Bruins could not get out of Salt Lake City fast enough. They needed to get home and regoup. Yeah, that didn’t go so well either.
Redshirt freshman Breland Brandt announced he would medically retire from football. He has had multiple concussions in the last 12 months. UCLA, like many schools, will keep a player a player at the university if they have a medical retirement. However, the scholarship will be transferred from athletics to academics. Brandt texted a staff member of the football program to see if that transfer would happen in time for the winter quarter. It did not go so well.
Now granted, no one is particularly spry at 3am. Still, there were so many other options. Maybe don’t answer the text right away. Or understand that a young man was forced to make a life altering decision and needs some support.
Mora would never confirm but it was reported by multiple media outlets that the staffer in question was director of operations, Phil Magbanua. As if Mora did not already have his hands full with the plight of the program, and his own future at UCLA in doubt, he now spent part of Monday addressing this issue:
“Yeah I had heard that there was an exchange, an unfortunate exchange, between one of our staff members that was not a coach and Breland that took place…a three am text. It’s been addressed with the staff member…not appropriate…and our record here shows that we are…as I said, player safety is at a premium.
I’ve gone back and looked at my exchanges with Breland and they’ve all been very, very positive since the day he retired. And, we just hope and pray that he can have a productive career here as a student at UCLA and reach his passions and dreams off the football field.
But, we certainly want to make sure that we are always offering support, but it was an exchange that took place at, I guess, three in the morning…a poor choice of words and it’s been addressed. That’s not really a part of what we do or how we talk around here. It never has been and it really shouldn’t be.”
Because things were not bad enough already, UCLA also got word that three of their top recruits for the class of 2018 decommitted over the weekend.
Defensive back Dayven Coleman from Mesquite, Texas used his Twitter account on Friday to make his decommitment announcement. Kendrick Torain, a wide receiver from Tampa, Florida did the same on Saturday. Offensive lineman Blake McDonald from Danville, CA completed the triumvirate on Sunday. Now, there is always speculation as to academics or other personal reasons for decommitments.
Fortunately, Mora is prohibited from talking about recruits, so he did not have to answers questions about this. It doesn’t matter why they decommitted. In a seven year period that has been among the worst in decades at UCLA, this just added fuel to burning reputation of the program. If Mora wanted to feel good about something, he could see his freshman defensive end took issue with the recruits decommitting. From his Twitter account:
It's weak to de commit from a school based on their record. You committed for a reason. Records come and go, loyalty doesn't
— Jaelan Phillips ;??® (@JJPhillips15) November 4, 2017
Just for good measure, Phillips is injured for the second time this season and may not play Saturday against Arizona State. It’s just been that kind of week at UCLA.
On the upside for Mora, at least none of his players got arrested in a foreign country. Sometimes the glass is half full. Other times it is half empty. Sometimes you are just grateful there is even a glass.
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