Trouble at UCLA as coach and defensive coordinator go head to head

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Oregon has a way of making even the best defenses infuriated with its spread-option attack that has dominated college football since the Chip Kelly days.

Seriously, any game against the Ducks is enough to make a defensive coordinator want to tear his hear out.

UCLA defensive coordinator looked like he wanted to do just that pretty early into his team's eventual 42-30 loss to No. 12 Oregon Saturday. Jeff Ulbrich, in his first year as coordinator under head coach Jim Mora, was captured on tape going crazy after his squad gave up a score early in the second quarter.

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The 37-year-old coordinator, who played linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers for nine years, took out some of his rage at the head coach. After Mora dropped his head in disgust while watching the play, Ulbrich began to yell at him on the sideline.

Mora tried to explain what he saw was wrong with the play, but it was clear that his assistant coach wasn't having it. So the head coach tried to walk away.

Ulbrich followed and, in a moment captured for all of television to see, gave his play sheet to Mora: If you think it's so easy to stop the Ducks, how about you call the plays, he seemed to be saying.

Apologies made

The fight didn't last long and Mora, after seeing that his coordinator was clearly tiffed, finally diffused the situation.

Ulbrich was seen wearing his headset soon after, seemingly content calling the plays again. After the game, Mora downplayed the argument, saying that it was a passionate aside but not one atypical from a football sideline.

"If you're a competitor, which we are, then those things happen. That's life. And if you can't accept that, then you shouldn't be doing this," Mora said, according to InsideUCLA. "And if you're going to make a big deal out of it, then you don't understand sports."

Ulbrich agreed that the heated exchange didn't speak to any hidden issues between him and his boss. 

"I can't do that," he did say, "That's not a good message for my players."

Long road ahead

It's understandable why the two UCLA coaches are frustrated.

Weeks ago, the Bruins were talked about as playoff contenders. Now they are officially struggling. They lost on a last-second field goal to Utah the week before facing Oregon's nearly-unstoppable offense, ceding the victory there as well. 

This season could quickly go off the rails here, with a decent California team and No. 16 Arizona are both scheduled in the next three weeks. To face the rest of a difficult Pac 12 matchup, the two coaches will have to make sure to be in each other's good graces, rather than in each other's faces, going forward.


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