Injuries forced three freshmen onto the field last season, and the Bruins paid a price for it: Stanford limited UCLA to 266 yards and sacked quarterback Brett Hundley four times in a 24-10 victory. But a year later, tackle Caleb Benenoch, guard Alex Redmond and center Scott Quessenberry have made the offensive front a strength, even with the departure of Su'a-Filo.
Mora, knowing that he could trust his line to protect Hundley, installed a package of plays in the spring in which Hundley takes the snap under center. Mora knows the package will be a nice addition on Hundley's résumé for the 2015 NFL draft. But that's not why he introduced the package.
"We want to work out a little more power run game and play-action pass from under center," Mora said. "... The motivation was to continue to grow our offense and expand. It's certainly going to benefit Brett. It's going to benefit everybody. It's going to benefit our centers, our guards."
And they, in turn, will benefit UCLA.
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin breeds 1,000-yard rushers at a rate similar to the amount of cheese that's produced in these parts.
But the centerpiece of the Badgers' backfield in 2014 just may end up being the most dynamic runner of them all.
Go ahead and put Melvin Gordon on the Heisman Trophy short list right now. He returns for his redshirt junior season after rushing for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry and had four runs of 60 yards or more and three of 70 yards or more, both tops in the country.
"I didn't come back because I wanted to win the Heisman," Gordon said. "I came back because there are still things we want to do as a team, and I know I can be a more complete player, a player that helps everybody else raise their level.
"We've won the Big Ten championship and gotten to Rose Bowls, but we haven't won any of them. It gets to a point where you've had enough. You've got to win the big games, and the way you do that is by making enough big plays throughout the season. Coach [Gary] Andersen has been focusing on that, doing the little things and all the details.
"We're going all out on that and are ready to take that next step."
Gordon this spring flashed the same explosive speed that made him one of the top breakaway threats in college football last season. But he also looks sturdier than ever and wants to play at 212 pounds this season after playing at 207 a year ago. The good thing is that he won't have to go it alone. Similar to the way he did with James White in 2013 (when they combined for 3,053 yards), he'll share backfield duties with talented sophomore Corey Clement. They'll be running behind an offensive line that returns four of five starters.
"Corey is a power back. I am at times, too," Gordon said. "But Corey is really strong. That's his game. He's physical. He loosens them up, and then I come in and break them down and vice versa."