Spring notes: Jim Mora talks about UCLA’s roster, scheme changes

– This was UCLA’s starting offensive line today: left tackle Caleb Benenoch, left guard Scott Quessenberry, center Jake Brendel, right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Poasi Moala.

With Torian White dismissed from the team and starting left tackle Simon Goines still recovering from a broken leg, four-fifths of the first-string line now hails from the 2013 signing class.

Moala is the only one who has no game experience, but Brendel called the freshman one of the more athletic tackles he’d ever seen. Moala also improved his body more than any other lineman did over the winter workouts, according to Mora.

The second-string unit today was: left tackle Kenny Lacy, left guard John Lopez, center Carl Hulick, right guard NaJee Toran, right tackle Ben Wysocki.

Graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche is still sorting out his eligibility after coming from Miami, but is expected to practice on Thursday.

– After ranking 38th in the country in total offensive plays last season, both Mora and UCLA players talked a lot about playing at an even higher tempo this year.

“We’d like to move more efficiently and at a quicker pace,” Mora said. “We’d like to be able to change the tempo at times as well. Slow it down, speed it up. Keep the defense guessing. Try to substitute a little less, so you keep the same personnel on the field. …

“Just by the mere fact that we’ve been together now a little longer, Brett’s in his third year in the system, that’ll help us operate quicker and more efficiently.”

– Mora said the position battles he’s watching the most are outside linebacker, running back, No. 1 receiver and … backup quarterback.

“Jerry (Neuheisel)’s not a guy that’s just going to let it go,” he said. “We recognize Asiantii’s potential, but he has to perform.”

– Defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes will miss spring practices after breaking his foot. He will be ready for summer workouts, but is still moving around on a scooter right now.

– Linebacker Aaron Wallace watched practice in street clothes today. Mora said the rising junior has to sort out academics, but should be back this week.

Senior linebacker Eric Kendricks is limited after undergoing ankle surgery in December, and will work back into the rotation gradually.

– True freshman linebacker Zach Whitley looked great through his first spring practice as an early enrollee. The four-star recruit moved well and was more than capable in pass coverage, especially considering that he should be a senior in high school.

“I don’t want to instant evaluate, but you can really see it with his knee bend, his lateral movement skills, his burst, his ability to catch the ball,” Mora said.

He has a legitimate shot to start the season opener at inside linebacker next to Kendricks, though he could also move to play a bit outside.

– Four-star offensive lineman Roy Hemsley attended UCLA’s practice today.

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  • Bruin 34

    Thanks Jack.