UCLA links: Jayon Brown flourishes in spy role

UCLA linebacker Jayon Brown (12) hits BYU quarterback Taysom Hill (7) as he throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

UCLA linebacker Jayon Brown (12) hits BYU quarterback Taysom Hill (7) as he throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

UCLA has six sacks in the past two games, thanks in part to a small shift from the defense that assigns one linebacker to spy/cover the quarterback, thus freeing the defensive line to rush more freely without the worry of the quarterback escaping. Linebacker Jayon Brown has flourished in that role as he’s led the Bruins in tackles in back-to-back games and is third in the Pac-12 in tackles per game with 8.2.

More on Brown’s changing role on the defense.

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Weekly Q&A – Arizona answers

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OFFENSE

In announcing he would tighten up the running back rotation, does that imply Jim Mora and the coaches are happy with the offensive line’s performance? Given your perspective from watching practices and games, what do you think is the primary reason for the running game struggling as much as it has?

Mora and the coaches didn’t just imply that they’re happy with the offensive line’s performance, but Kennedy Polamalu said specifically that he was happy with it. He was asked specifically if the offensive line had to shoulder any of the blame after Stanford and Polamalu said no. Mora said Monday that everything was blocked the way they wanted it to be blocked. Polamalu said it’s up to him to teach the running backs better to see the holes and break through arm tackles. Mora said when he watched the film, he thought the team left 100 yards out on the field. When watching the game again Sunday night, I thought the offensive line actually did pretty well and I did notice a lot of the holes Mora would reference the next day. Solomon Thomas was a beast for Stanford and definitely got the better of Kolton Miller and Najee Toran, but I thought the offensive line had an overall decent day against a very good defensive line. I haven’t watched practice in more than a month since they closed everything after the first 20 minutes to the media, so I can’t speak to what’s going on at practice, but I think it falls on the running backs. Like the coaches said, there were holes to run through and tackles to be broken against Stanford. Continue reading

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Five questions: The Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev on Arizona

UCLA is searching for a bounce-back performance against Arizona after a heartbreaking loss to Stanford. The Wildcats are just two years removed from their Pac-12 South championship, but fell quickly from the divisional perch. They finished fifth in the Pac-12 South last year and revamped their entire defensive staff this year. They have a dangerous mobile quarterback who nearly led them to an upset victory over Washington last week. The Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev answered some questions about quarterback Brandon Dawkins, the team’s struggling defense and its running back situation. 

1. Brandon Dawkins took over the starting role for an injured Anu Solomon and had some success. Even if Solomon is healthy, will Dawkins keep the starting job and if so, what necessary component does he bring to the offense?

I believe he will keep the starting job. He isn’t as polished a passer as Solomon, but Dawkins is a superior athlete. He can be a real difference-maker with his legs. We weren’t sure he could run effectively against Washington’s vaunted defense, but he did and then some (176 yards, two touchdowns). He has a big frame and a strong arm and has shown promise as a passer. But he still needs a lot of work (reading defenses, remaining patient in the pocket) to become a proficient all-around quarterback. Continue reading

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UCLA practice links: Marques Tuiasosopo willing to challenge Josh Rosen

Quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo and quarterback Josh Rosen talk over a drill during spring practice. (Photo by Brad Graverson // Daily Breeze)

Quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo and quarterback Josh Rosen talk over a drill during spring practice. (Photo by Brad Graverson // Daily Breeze)

The partnership because quarterback Josh Rosen and his positions coach Marques Tuiasosopo is “not always coke and ice cream,” according to head coach Jim Mora, but that’s what makes it so good for the Bruins.

Rosen pushes Tuiasosopo and the coach pushes right back. That relationship is key in unlocking Rosen’s potential on the field.

More on the dynamic between Tuiasosopo and his star pupil, from Ryan Kartje.

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Video: Josh Rosen, Bolu Olorunfunmi, Jayon Brown

Quarterback Josh Rosen talks about bouncing back from Stanford, working with Marques Tuiasosopo and still getting to the College Football Playoff.

Running back Bolu Olorunfunmi talks about finding someone to take the lead running back position, coming back from Stanford and playing night games.

Linebacker Jayon Brown talks about handling Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins, staying motivated against Stanford and the season Kenny Young‘s having.

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