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UCLA football: Jim Mastro ready to conduct Bruin running game

Jim Mastro, hired as UCLA’s running game coordinator Thursday, already had a message for the Bruins … at least those involved with the offense.

"Running the football is attitude," Mastro said. "If they don’t have one, we’ll give them one. If they do, we’ll make it stronger."

Mastro spent 11 seasons as a Nevada assistant coach, helping to develop the “pistol” offense, which UCLA adopted last season. The Wolf Pack finished 13-1 and were ranked third nationally in rushing last season. UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said that the Bruins will continue to use “portions of the pistol that were successful.”

Neuheisel’s efforts to re-invigorate the Bruins’ offense, which ranked 100th overall nationally out of 120 teams, centered on landing Mastro. A week of negotiations ended with Mastro agreeing to a deal that runs through June of 2013 and is worth $235,000 a season plus incentive bonuses, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who was not authorized to speak on the subject.

"I liked the challenge," Mastro said. "It was time. There was nothing left [at Nevada] to do." He said that Nevada Coach Chris Ault told him, ‘You have to go. You can’t pass up this opportunity.' "

Mastro officially is coming in to work with the tight ends and F-backs, with Wayne Moses remaining as the UCLA’s running back coach. But Mastro also oversee the run game and work with Neuhesiel and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson on developing the offensive philosophy.

The Bruins were a good running team in 2010, averaging 176 yards a game to rank 32nd nationally. But UCLA was 116th in passing offense and 118th in passing efficiency.

“I’ve looked at all their tapes and they are on the right page with this offense,” Mastro said. “The pistol is a process and the thing that was appealing to me is there was already a foundation laid.  We just got to fine tune it. I have made all the mistakes in this offense and corrected them all.”

--Chris Foster

 
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