VIDEO: Receiver Thomas Duarte talks about potential breakout

Last season, UCLA inside receiver Thomas Duarte tied the program’s freshman record with three touchdown catches. A hamstring injury sidelined him for most of training camp, but the 6-foot-4 sophomore still feels ready for a breakout season.

“I’ve grasped a whole different concept of the game,” Duarte said. “Just the experience I got from last year, and the coaching I’ve gotten … Definitely, this might be the year.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Lineman Caleb Benenoch reflects on freshman growing pains

Caleb Benenoch didn’t get a chance to ease into his freshman season.

Originally in line to start at right guard, he lost the competition to fellow first-year Alex Redmond shortly before UCLA’s 2013 season opener. Four games in, however, he got his chance — albeit at a separate position.

Starting tackle Torian White broke a bone in his lower leg in an Oct. 3 win at Utah, opening a spot in the staring lineup for the 6-foot-5 Benenoch. The toughest part of his adjustment, Benenoch said this week, was keeping up with the speed of the game and refining his technique. He needed another four games or so to get comfortable with the pace. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Jim Mora: No plans to redshirt UCLA’s new defensive linemen

UCLA head coach Jim Mora said Thursday that the team doesn’t plan to redshirt its three freshman defensive linemen: nose tackle Ainuu Taua, and defensive ends Matt Dickerson and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.

All three were four-star recruits who were ranked among the top 35 Californian prospects in 2014.

“The plan is to play all three, and play them a lot,” Mora said. “In this conference, you have to be able to rotate guys through. They’re all good football players. That could change, but right now, we’re planning on playing them all.”

Mora also talked to reporters (VIDEO ABOVE) about the Bruins’ transition from training camp to game prep, the running back depth chart, and the development of Y-receiver Thomas Duarte.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Mike Tuiasosopo: UCLA special teams has ‘unbelievable standard’

Assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo walks past player stretches during spring practice on April 7, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo walks past player stretches during spring practice on April 7, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Officially, Mike Tuiasosopo is in charge of coaching UCLA’s outside linebackers and special teams. Practically speaking, the latter role is more muddled.

Back in April, head coach Jim Mora said that his newest assistant coach was “still feeling his way through special teams.” Under former linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, the Bruins became one of the best kick and punt return coverage units in college football. Tuiasosopo doesn’t have that type of resume.

According to Tuiasosopo himself, special teams is still coached by committee. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email