Spring Ball Preview: Linebackers

As part of my UCLA spring ball preview, we break down the position groupings. With a new coaching staff, the competition should be fierce in the spring, as few players did much too cement starting roles going into spring ball. The Bruins are going to more of a base spread offense and a base 3-4 defense – though they will mix packages and personnel frequently – so take into account the changes. This is only a spring preview, so only freshmen who are participating – T.J. Millweard and Marcus Rios – will be listed.

Linebackers

Looking Back
Patrick Larimore 81 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF
Eric Kendricks 77 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 3 PBU
Jordan Zumwalt 60 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU
Damien Holmes 32 tackels, 6.0 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 1 FF
Keenan Graham 20 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack
Isaiah Bowens 9 tackles, 2 FR
Todd Golper 2 tackles

Projected Depth Chart
OLB: JR Jordan Zumwalt, RS JR Keenan Graham
ILB: RS SO Eric Kendricks, RS SO Aramide Olaniyan, RS JR Isaiah Bowens, Ryan Hofmeister
ILB: RS SR Patrick Larimore, RS JR Todd Golper, Mike Orloff
OLB: RS SR Damien Holmes, JR Anthony Barr, RS FR Aaron Wallace

Coming In / Heading Out
In: FR Aaron Porter, FR Jeremy Castro, FR Nate Iese
Out: Glenn Love (graduation), Sean Westgate (graduation)

Thoughts
The UCLA linebacker corps was penalized through no fault of their own by a defensive line that had more give than a 60-foot rubber band. The corps, however, does claim fault for poor tackling and angles of pursuit that proved futile time and time again. The buck doesn’t stop there, though: The Bruins’ rotation at the position last year, from starters to backups, was downright baffling.
Now, with a shift to at least a heavy lean toward the 3-4, a new set of problem presents itself. UCLA needs to find a four-man crew that plays off each other better, and there is the talent here to do that. Will they be able to wrap up, though?

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  • Marko

    I’m calling Anthony Barr starts and has breakout season!

  • Anonymous

    Holmes is too slow to be an outside linebacker.

  • Anonymous

    Them Kendricks’ have some good linebacking genes.

  • Anonymous

    Larimore is just not fast enought to play in today’s style of football. He was born a decade late.

  • BruinRogue

    Well, at least Westgate and the club is gone. There are plenty of shorter LB’s who can succeed in college or the pros. Westgate isn’t one of them. I certainly hope our coaches can get these guys playing up to their potentials.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    Nice work on this, Jon. Heck, after you are done with secondary and special teams there’s no need to buy a magazine this fall.

    As per what you’ve already laid down, I agree that it’s so very obvious that a player or two must truly step up a few man-sized steps in each main grouping in order for us to take the big leap forward as a program.

    At RB, would truly hope Malcolm Jones throws himself into the mix this time around. It’s not easy seeing a former National Player of the Year fill the role he’s been filling. What a big back to pair with Franklin.

    Ditto that for Hundley at QB. He seems to be that perfect blend of passer/runner/athlete to grab the controls under a new regime. Much thanks to Prince & Brehaut for all their sufferings of years past, but the time is now for Hundley to make this his team for the next three years.

    As per Ellis & others? THIS MUST BE THE YEAR that true freshman are allowed to step on the field immediately if the time is earned. It can’t just be cross-town where that is allowed. We’ve got to step into the Modern Day reality of big-time football and let these young horses run!

    Lastly, Fauria is the obvious weapon that must be utilized under new schemes. If the tight end spot is absent in much of Mazzone’s new sets, then we gotta still get the ball in his hands behind the linebackers, in the flat, whatever … we gotta get him the rock.

  • Boston Bruin

    On Rockies’ Roll…

    “Noel Mazzone, now at UCLA after being at ASU for a season, is a prototypical spread and shred offensive coordinator. Using a variety of formations, coupled with motion, a quick running game, and dynamic passing tree, Mazzone was the main reason for ASU’s offensive turnaround. Mazzone’s offense is relatively SIMPLE, and adaptable.”

    This quote might mean that compared to the Pistol, the Bruin O players will be able to gain a greater comfort level compared to last few years.

    Some Offense observations — fun with guessing

    QB – The point about “dynamic passing tree” suggests that Prince is out; regardless of the politically correct statement Mora made that KP will be the starter on Spring Day-One. The kid is tough, but seems to have gotten worse each year when it came to check-downs for passes. I doubt Mazzone will tolerate KPs run, rather than gun.

    While I’m excited to see Hundley play, Richie B. got a wake-up call by being suspended for the Bowl game and seems committed to having some serious skin in the game if he wants a shot at playing pro ball.

    Assuming this Spring he’s back to his playing level prior to the leg break, without baseball, he could move up a notch….If he develops a rhythm/rapport with the receivers before fall camp and devour the ‘Zzone playbook, he could have a Drew Olson senior year (without the personal records). As such, Hundley can acquire the poise needed to take over in 2013.

    RB – While Franklin is the dependable exacting runner (except for the fumbles), within the offense’s ”…quick running game…” Jordan James may have a better opportunity for break outs than Franklin and the size of Mal Jones. I’m still scratching my head about Dalton Hilliard as an add-on.

    TE-Y – There are a few ‘Zzone formations using a traditional Tight End (close in) compared to the Y, which has greater daylight between the Tackle when on the line. Regardless of the spacing, Fauria seems to have the opportunity to show his stuff as an important go-to offensive weapon. As seen her with the Patriots when they line up Gronkowski (TE), Hernandez (H), Welker at (Slot), along with a (WR) and the (RB) moving in motion, the defense can’t cover, leaving the middle wide open for one of them (usually Gronk). I’m sure this hasn’t gone unnoticed by CNM.

    WR/Slots – These seem to be the primaries:
    Shaq Evans – 6-1/205 – WR Stretch – proved last year he can get deep
    Devin Lucien – 6-1/192 – WR Stretch – great speed (4.47 40-yd) and can create separation from CBs

    Jerry Johnson – 6-4/218 – Slot – ability to get yards after the catch, and a tough tackle, and good routes
    Damien Thigpen – 5-9/185 – Slot – 4.34 40-yard dash, can get lost lined up behind Johnson and Fauria

    Jordan Payton (#15 Scout) – 6-2/215 –WR Stretch – rated as a physical receiver, stronger than most of the defensive backs that he can beat on a jam or out muscle for a ball in the air

  • 50-0

    Yawn… Rockie and Boston, your employer know you spend so much time writing this tripe?

  • Heritage Hall

    @50-0

    Didn’t know they sprung you from San Quentin, man. Out just in timer for the “O.J is O.K. for Potential Bail” bash.

    We’re having a little get together for OJ’s incarceration anniversary at Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. Every one you’re “butt buddies” with wuill be there.

    Actually, Justin Paperny, our beloved Trojan baseball player and criminally indicted hedge fund accounts manager, was recently released from Taft Correctional in time to be the keynote speaker.

    So don’t feel left out, just wash your orange jump suit and join the other 37 USC criminal-athletes attending the fete.

    And as you well know, with our current coaches and alumni, we can always be assured that there will never be a dearth of criminal-athletes walking the corridors of Heritage Hall!!

  • Dan Simon, USC Professor of Law and Psychology

    @50-0

    During your time at San Quentin, didn’t they give you the Kathryn Gibbs writing course???…Didn’t they help you to develop the writing skill connecting to a flow of consciousness that takes not much more time to write as to think?

    Sadly, in my years on the Southern Cal faculty, I must note that tripe offered by SC students in lieu of academic thought actually doesn’t seem to take a long time to write, on their way to pick up a cold one at the bodega on south campus.

  • anonymous

    I beg to differ about Larimore being too slow. He led the team last year. Look at the stats.

  • Coach Thom

    With improved execution and pressure from the D line, our LBs will have the opportunity to stand up and be counted this year. Larimore is a hitter, we all know that. He doesn’t have to cover so much territory with 3 other LBs helping him out. I believe Spanos, McClure, and Ulbrich are going to turn these players into dogs from Hell. Can’t wait to see the looks on opposing offences when these dogs are unleashed.

  • FIGHTONtoVICTORY

    BruinRob said:
    NOBS is locked up, in his Urn in which I piss in every day, his ashes are getting crusty.

    March 31, 2012 3:33 PM

    That’s a great representative you bRuins got!

  • http://http:://www.yahoo.com BruinRob

    @ano, Holmes has very good speed, and could be the sleeper…furthermore, his play will remind people of Clay Mathews, you heard it here first.
    @CheatOnToSanctions – you hypocritical POS I thought you you never post on UCLA blogs? POS

  • http://www.yahoo.com BruinRob

    Buahahaha!!! 50-0 got his A$$ handed so baaaaaad he will never wanna come back For more. Still ROTFLMAO.

  • 50-0

    BruinRunt. You have a one inch wiener

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    That’s obviously more than you got or you wouldn’t be poosting about it.

  • 50-0

    Rockie and Bulwinkle. I know you are, but what am I?

  • Jake

    Don’t you get tired of just mediocraty, Jon? Can’t you measure up?

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/ucla Jon Gold

    To who?

  • Maze

    Jon, don’t even respond to these marginally-literate types of clowns in the future.

  • Local Yokle

    Jon,

    Agree with Maze.

    As Jon Stewart would say on behalf of your answer….”BAM!”