Anthony Barr will need to clear off extra shelf space in a few months. Arguably the Pac-12’s best player, the UCLA linebacker is a near-lock for multiple individual awards this season.
His latest mention comes as a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the best defensive player in college football. Through seven games, Barr has 13 tackles for loss (sixth in the nation) and four forced fumbles (second). His six sacks rank third in the Pac-12.
Wrecked by injuries, UCLA started three true freshmen on its offensive line in a 42-14 loss at Oregon.
Reinforcements are working back. Sophomore Simon Goines (knee) and Conor McDermott (shoulder) both practiced Tuesday, albeit without pads. Goines, who started at right tackle before moving to left, was still limping and had his right knee wrapped.
(Starting left tackle Torian White’s season ended on Oct. 3 when he broke a bone and tore a ligament near his ankle.)
“They develop a sense of urgency to get back,” head coach Jim Mora said. “I feel that with a lot of guys. You look at our injury report and it’s pretty vast. You see a bunch of guys that want to get back out here and do whatever they can, whatever they can.”
Scott Quessenberry became the 18th true freshman to play for UCLA this season, starting at left guard to fill out a battered offensive line. He performed well in a 42-14 loss at Oregon, especially considering his experience: also the Bruins’ backup center, Quessenberry played tackle in high school too before working at guard in fall camp.
“The team needed me this weekend,” he said. “If the team needs me, I’ll be there to step up. If my name’s called, I’ll be right there. It doesn’t much matter. Was supposed to redshirt, it’s gone now. Doesn’t really matter.”
Freshman Kenny Clark earned his first start at nose tackle in Saturday’s 42-14 loss at No. 2 Oregon, beating out senior Seali’i Epenesa. Head coach Jim Mora wasn’t sure if the change would be permanent, but Clark’s move up the depth chart hasn’t resulted in a big uptick in reps yet.
“We ran a lot of different packages this game,” Clark said. “I think I got the same amount of snaps I got any other game. I think this (upcoming) game we’ll probably be running more of our base packages, and I’ll probably be playing a lot more.”
— You can also read more about Clark’s wrestling background here.
UCLA forward Travis Wear was hospitalized this afternoon due to appendicitis. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound senior did not practice Monday. He is currently treated at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and his timetable is uncertain.
Wear was the Bruins’ third-leading scorer last season, averaging 10.9 points in 32 games, starting all but one. He also averaged 5.2 rebounds.
The team, entering its first season under Steve Alford, has an exhibition against Cal State San Bernardino on Wednesday. The season officially opens against Drexel on Nov. 8.