UCLA football deals with dichotomy between shrinking squad, Pac-12 honors

Dec. 6, 2023 1:09 p.m.
This post was updated Dec. 6 at 9:44 p.m.
The last month has been full of losses for UCLA football.
On the field, the Bruins lost three of their last four games to end the regular season. The skid culminated with the largest defeat of them all – a 33-7 drubbing at the Rose Bowl against California in the final Pac-12 regular-season game ever.
And in the week and a half following the blowout end of the campaign, the program has continued to stack up even more defeats off of the field.
The first came last Thursday when 247Sports reported that former five-star recruit and freshman quarterback Dante Moore intended to enter the transfer portal.
“For these next upcoming years, I just want to go to a place where I can get developed,” Moore said to 247Sports. “The main thing is really development, making sure you’re bettering yourself every day and having a staff around you that’s going to help develop you.”
During the press conference for the LA Bowl on Sunday, coach Chip Kelly said he had a conversation with the quarterback before he left the program.
“I did not see any comments – I did talk to Dante before he left,” Kelly said. “We had a good conversation and we wish him well. … Whether you spend a day here or you’re here for five years, our job is to help you.”
Moore’s comments about finding a new program to develop him almost directly contradict his statements praising Kelly and his staff when Moore flipped his commitment from Oregon to UCLA last December.
“First, I love the whole offensive side of the staff, especially Coach Kelly,” Moore told 247Sports in January. “The biggest thing for me especially was what Coach Kelly has developed in the quarterback position. What I’ve seen from his track record, what he did with Marcus Mariota … him coaching in the NFL, him having that exposure and strong resume.”
Moore’s departure was just one of several Kelly addressed for the first time Sunday.
Defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn was officially hired by crosstown rival USC for the same position Dec. 1 after leading UCLA’s defense to a No. 11 overall ranking in total defense in his first season in Westwood. The same unit was ranked No. 87 in 2022.
“We made a push to keep D’Anton – obviously we weren’t in the ballpark from that standpoint,” Kelly said. “USC wasn’t the only team that was courting him. He did a tremendous job this year, we led the Pac-12 in defense and he had a huge part in that. … He’s got a bright future in this game.”
Kelly added that the entire defensive staff will combine to lead the defense in UCLA’s upcoming bowl game against Boise State.
On the other side of the ball, the Bruins will have to fill another hole in the coaching staff.
Kelly confirmed on Sunday that Ryan Gunderson, UCLA’s quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons, would be leaving Westwood to become the offensive coordinator at Oregon State.
“It’s an opportunity for Gundy (Gunderson) to move up, to call plays and be a coordinator,” Kelly said. “We’re always happy when our coaches get an opportunity to move up and advance.”
Gunderson played quarterback for the Beavers during his college career.
With two departing coaches and now seven players already entering the transfer portal, UCLA has plenty of holes to fill this offseason.
It’s not all negativity in Westwood.
On Tuesday, nine UCLA players received Pac-12 honors.
The award-winners were headlined by senior defensive lineman Laiatu Latu, who became the Bruins’ first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award winner since defensive lineman Brian Price in 2009. Latu, who leads the nation with 21.5 tackles for loss and has 13 sacks to his name, was also named First Team All-Pac-12.
A pair of redshirt seniors were named Second Team All-Pac-12, as linebacker Darius Muasau and center Duke Clemens each earned the honor.
Redshirt senior defensive backs Alex Johnson and Kenny Churchwell III, redshirt junior defensive linemen Gabriel Murphy and Grayson Murphy, senior linebacker Kain Medrano and junior tight end Moliki Matavao were all Pac-12 Honorable Mentions as well.
It has yet to be determined how many of these players will play in UCLA’s upcoming LA Bowl appearance Dec. 16.

Latest Player Notes

How a Wisconsin legend got his German protégé into Badgers pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Marlon Werthmann put his life on hold for the opportunity in front of him Friday at the McClain Center.Werthmann ...

Why former Wisconsin football running back Braelon Allen didn't run the 40 at pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Braelon Allen’s sweat covered his shirt and dripped off his beard as he approached a group of reporters Friday.The ...

How can UW recruit its best class ever? It starts with these five prospects

By Andy Yamashita Seattle Times staff reporter Jedd Fisch has lofty recruiting goals at Washington. He didn’t waste any ...

Texas football kicks off spring practice Tuesday. We answer 24 questions for the 2024 team

Things certainly look fresh for the 2024 college football season, especially on the Texas campus.There’s a new conference ...

College Football Playoff: Conferences solve their differences (for now) and agree on general framework for 2026 and beyond

The FBS conferences and Notre Dame agreed on Friday to continue the College Football Playoff beyond the 2025 season, signing ...

Ball security, leadership key as Aztecs look to identify starting quarterback

San Diego State seemingly auditions a new starting quarterback on an annual basis.In the past 12 years, the Aztecs have opened ...

Results and more: A look at what happened at Penn State football’s Pro Day inside Holuba Hall

Most of those at Penn State’s Pro Day Friday were relatively quiet throughout the afternoon’s workouts, but there was one ...

Defense dominates first two weeks of Oregon State spring practice as Beavers ready for 2-week breather

CORVALLIS – Oregon State hit the break of spring practices Saturday, not exactly the midpoint but a good place to assess ...

Dillon Gabriel to have similar input, autonomy as Bo Nix had in Oregon’s offense

Published Mar. 16, 2024, 6:26 p.m.By James CrepeaEUGENE — Dillon Gabriel will have much of the same autonomy as Bo Nix did ...

Two transfers, one underclassman who impressed in Missouri football's spring game

With that, spring camp’s a wrap.Missouri football held its Black & Gold spring game Saturday in front of a healthy crowd ...
See More Player Notes