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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Spring Ball Preview: Defensive Line

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.

Defensive Line

Looking Back
Datone Jones 41 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 PBU
Donovan Carter 36 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 FR
Cassius Marsh 22 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2 sacks
Owa Odighizuwa 21 tackles, 3.0 TFL
Iuta Tepa 19 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack
Seali’i Epenesa 7 tackles, 1.0 TFL

Projected Depth Chart
End: JR Cassius Marsh, RS SO Brandon Willis, RS FR Sam Tai
NT: RS SR Donovan Carter, JR Seali’i Epenesa, RS FR Kevin McReynolds, RS FR Brandon Tuliapupu
End: RS SR Datone Jones, RS JR Iuta Tepa, JR Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Coming In / Heading Out
In: FR Ellis McCarthy, FR Eli Ankou
Out: SR Nate Chandler (graduation), SR Justin Edison (graduation), Wesley Flowers (dismissed)

Thoughts
At a certain point, there has to be a confluence between potential and performance, and that time must be now for the UCLA defensive line. The unit looked almost unstoppable last spring and summer, and under the bright lights, they soured like spoiled cheddar. There appears to be depth, but the depth that is there didn’t do too much last year, and justifiably, there is some doubt that the group will take a massive leap.
Perhaps the switch to more of a 3-4 look will jar the unit into productivity.
Heading into spring, Datone Jones will be one to watch as his position remains somewhat undefined. Does he bulk up and become a force inside? Does he continue to work on his outside rush technique and settle in at end/linebacker? His ascension to a premier defensive player in the conference is absolutely pivotal to the season, as is the growth of guys like Cassius Marsh and Owamagbe Odighizuwa, for whom the time has come to produce. Then there’s Brandon Willis, still somewhat of an unknown but with a special gear that has been on display at times.

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Spring Ball Preview: Offensive Line

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.

Offensive Line

Looking Back
2011 Starts: Jeff Baca (13), Greg Capella (14), Alberto Cid (6), Wade Yandall (3 – no contact for spring), Chris Ward (4 – out for spring), Brett Downey (1)

Projected Depth Chart
LT: Xavier Su’a Filo, Brett Downey, Connor Bradford, Michael Padovese
LG: Greg Capella, Ben Wysocki
C: Jacob Brendel, Kody Innes
RG: Alberto Cid, Casey Griffiths, Sam Saultz
RT: Jeff Baca, Alexandru Ceachir, Torian White, Will Oliver

Coming In / Heading Out
In: FR Lacy Westbrook, FR Simon Goines, FR Colby Cyburt, FR Carl Hulick
Out: SR Mike Harris (graduation), SR Kai Maiava (graduation), SR Sean Sheller (graduation)

Thoughts
UCLA is once again in a precarious spot up front, only an injury or two away from real concern. Xavier Su’a-Filo goes a long way toward easing those concerns, but not all the way, as the Bruins lose two full-time starters plus Sean Sheller.
With Jeff Baca back to provide some veteran leadership and Greg Capella and Alberto Cid returning with some experience – Chris Ward is out for spring and Wade Yandall (head) is still not 100 percent – UCLA should have a pretty solid unit for spring. The performance of Jacob Brendel and Alexandru Ceachir will go a long way to determining where Jeff Baca ends up, and Baca back at guard could push Capella back to center, so there is definitely plenty to watch over the next few weeks.

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Spring Ball Preview: Wide Receivers

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.

Wide Receivers

Looking Back
Shaquelle Evans 19 catches for 309 yards (16.3 ypc average) and two touchdowns
Ricky Marvray 10 catches for 57 yards (5.7 ypc)
Johnathan Franklin 9 catches for 74 yards (8.2 ypc) and one touchdown
Jordon James 7 catches for 122 yards (17.4 ypc)

Projected Depth Chart
(With so many receivers used in the new offense, there is no real depth chart)
JR Shaq Evans
RS FR Devin Lucien
RS JR Ricky Marvray
RS SR Jerry Johnson
RS JR Jerry Rice Jr.
RS JR Damien Thigpen
RS SR Joseph Fauria (Y)
RS JR Darius Bell (Y)

Coming In / Heading Out
In: FR Javon Williams, FR Jordan Payton, FR Kenny Walker, FR Ahmad Harris
Out: SR Nelson Rosario (graduation), SR Taylor Embree (graduation), SR Josh Smith (graduation), JR Randall Carroll (dismissal)

Thoughts
UCLA’s spring ball won’t be a true preview at the wide receiver position, which will get an infusion of young talent from a lofty freshman class. But it could be a coming-out party in a sense for those wideouts already in Westwood, as the position took a backseat to the running game in the Pistol offense. Noel Mazzone has said he needs eight receivers in order for his offense to function, so he’s going to need some to step up in the spring to cement their roles in the rotation.
If the offense is as pass-happy as Mazzone would like, then Evans and Lucien could be very active from the start.

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Spring Ball Preview: Running Backs

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.

Running Backs

Looking Back
Johnathan Franklin 166 rushes for 976 yards (5.9 ypc) with five touchdowns
Malcolm Jones 25 rushes for 103 yards (4.1 ypc) with one touchdown
Jordon James 20 rushes for 54 yards (2.7) with one touchdown

Projected Depth Chart
RS Sr Johnathan Franklin
JR Malcolm Jones
RS So Jordon James
SR Dalton Hilliard
RS FR Steven Manfro

Coming In / Heading Out
In: FR Fabian Moreau
Out: SR Derrick Coleman (graduation)

Thoughts
For a senior running back who just came up short of his second straight 1,000-yard season, there is surprisingly little buzz on Johnathan Franklin. His decision to return to the team instead of entering his name in the NFL Draft was met with relatively little excitement, even though it was a crucial factor for the team’s fortunes. Franklin has developed into a true leader and entering his fifth year, he definitely has the respect of his teammates as a captain. Here in spring ball, though, we’ll see if he can adapt into more of a space runner, as Noel Mazzone’s spread offense creates openings for playmakers.
Malcolm Jones and Jordon James, meanwhile, have 15 practices to stake their claim as offensive factors after being surprisingly limited in their productivity last season. Dalton Hilliard and Steven Manfro can be considered X-factors, as neither are known quantities. Hilliard is a good athlete, but his lateral quickness will be a tell-tale sign of his value at running back, and Manfro is your classic undersized practice hero, and if he can escape the height stigma, maybe Mazzone gives him a shot.

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Spring Ball Preview: Quarterbacks

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.

Quarterbacks

Looking Back
Kevin Prince (10 starts) 126-224 passing for 1,828 yards, with 12 touchdown and eight interception for a 135.3 efficiency rating
Richard Brehaut (4 starts) 67-121 passing for 948 yards, with six touchdowns and one interception for a 135.9 efficiency rating

Projected Depth Chart
Sr. Kevin Prince
Sr. Richard Brehaut
RS Fr. Brett Hundley
Fr. T.J. Millweard
Fr. Jerry Neuheisel

Coming In / Heading Out
In: Fr. Devin Fuller
Out: RS Sr Nick Crissman (graduation/transfer)

Thoughts
New head coach Jim Mora told reporters in an informal lunch session on Monday that Kevin Prince would get the first snaps on Tuesday at spring ball. Who’ll get them two days later when the team practices again is anyone’s best guess. Prince has the early lead because of his experience and the fact that he soldiered on last season despite injury and inconsistency, but the shift to new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s offense really has the position without a leader at this point.
Will it be Prince, the embattled quarterback who looked like an ill fit in the Pistol offense and never gained consistency? Will it be Brehaut, who might be the best fit for a spread offense but never beat Prince in the battle for the starting nod? Will it be Hundley, who came in with great fanfare and has spectators curious? Will it be Millweard, whom the new coaches are raving about?
Mora said he’d like to have the answer become obvious, plain to see by all in the stands and on the field. He wants his man and he wants to stick with him, and that could go a long way in determining how Mora’s first season will go.

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Lunch with Mora

Several UCLA beat writers joined head coach Jim Mora for an informal lunch today, and he had some interesting things to say about the lead-up to spring ball.

* The quarterback competition is wide-open, but Mora said that Kevin Prince will get the first reps in spring ball.

* Richard Brehaut will participate fully in spring ball and is in fact leaving the baseball program during that time period to be with the football team.

* T.J. Millweard will be one of the early enrollees who will join the team for spring ball, so he should figure heavily into the quarterback competition. Devin Fuller will arrive in the fall.

* DB Marcus Rios and JC OL Alexandru Ceachir will also arrive for spring practice.

* Mora said he was nervous about the dept at safety in particular, as Dalton Hilliard has moved to offense and as Alex Mascarenas will be without contact during spring. He confirmed that Dietrich Riley will miss spring ball.

* Mora said he actually tried on the team’s game-day socks today to get a feel for them, and when asked if that was a sign of things to come regarding his attitude as head coach, he said he just is very detail-oriented. Players have complained about the quality and availability of socks and shoes for a while now.

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Jones named to NABC All-District 20 team

From UCLA:

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) has announced the NABC Division I All-District teams for 2012, recognizing the nation’s best men’s collegiate basketball student-athletes. The following student-athletes represent the Pac-12 on the NABC All-District 20 team:

First Team
Jorge Gutierrez, California
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
Terrence Ross, Washington
Solomon Hill, Arizona
Brock Motum, Washington State

Second Team
Tony Wroten, Washington
Andre Robertson, Colorado
Allen Crabbe, California
Lazeric Jones, UCLA
E.J. Singler, Oregon

The teams are selected and voted on by the NABC member coaches. The above student-athletes are eligible for the NABC Coaches’ Division I All-America teams, which will be announced on Tuesday, March 20.

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Howland statement on his return

From UCLA:

“”This past season has been the most challenging of my 31 years as a college basketball coach. I have endured seasons with fewer wins, but none with more disappointment. The unfavorable light that is cast upon our program is my responsibility as the UCLA head coach. But we will get better and I will get better.

Dan and I have had lengthy conversations about how we as a program and I as a coach can improve and we are in agreement that improvements need to be made. In fact, I welcome the opportunity. I want to thank Dan for his belief in me and in our future at UCLA.

I have poured my heart and soul into coaching my entire adult life and having the honor of being the Head Coach at UCLA is a dream that is still hard to grasp as real. I love this place.

I love walking by the Hall of Fame and seeing the success of so many Bruin teams;

I love the tradition, the values, the expectations, the fans, the passion for winning championships here.

We have some quality young men in our program right now and we look forward to adding outstanding recruits to join them next year.

Make no mistake–we will work hard every day to build upon this year’s nineteen win season and make the Bruin family proud of who we are and what we accomplish.”

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