Linebacker Myles Jack talks about UCLA’s increased practice tempo, new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, and trying to seize a leadership role while rising senior Eric Kendricks is sidelined.
– Graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche finally debuted after missing the first week of UCLA’s spring practice while waiting for his paperwork to clear the admissions department. The former Miami starter looked impressive as the first-string left guard, though he got tired fairly quickly.
Bunche looks like a tackle at 6-foot-7, but head coach Jim Mora said the plan is to keep the senior at guard — pointing out his “guard girth” at 327 pounds.
Scott Quessenberry got some first-team reps at guard late in practice, but if the line gets fully healthy, he’ll almost certainly be a reserve.
Alex Redmond has participated in every practice, but has a cast over his left hand after a pre-spring surgery. UCLA’s everyday starter at right guard last year as a freshman, Redmond has sat out a few series here and there.
– Mora didn’t have a timeline for injured reserve lineman Ben Wysocki, who was on the early two-deep this spring. He could be out for the spring with a sprained ankle.
– Eldridge Massington redshirted last season while working his way back from a torn ACL he suffered in high school, but looks like he could be developing into a decent possession receiver and/or red-zone target. He doesn’t look like he has track-type speed anymore, but he used his strength and size to make several end-zone grabs on Monday night.
– Devin Lucien is again coming down with highlight catch after highlight catch, something that he’s done before in past camps. The athletic wideout came on late last season, but has long looked better in practices than he has in games. With Shaq Evans gone now, Lucien could finally be in for a breakout as a redshirt junior.
This weekend, Jeff Ulbrich talked about his coaching career and his path to becoming UCLA’s defensive coordinator — something he said truly began even while he was still playing with the San Francisco 49ers.
– After redshirting this past season, Craig Lee looks like he might be the most talented runner on UCLA’s roster right now. The former four-star recruit still needs to improve his pass protection to ensure more reps, but he reeled off a number of nice runs on Saturday.
“He’s flashed the first two days without pads,” head coach Jim Mora said. “He didn’t look like anything different (in pads). He stood out to me.”
– Mora was similarly impressed by freshman Mossi Johnson, who still has a brace on his left knee after tearing three ligaments in January 2013 and grayshirting. The coaching staff didn’t decide to make him a full-time receiver until about three or weeks ago — partly based on his preference and partly on positional need. Continue reading
This is what UCLA’s two-deep at offensive line looks like early in spring:
LT – Caleb Benenoch, So.; Kenny Lacy, RSFr.
LG – Scott Quessenberry, So.; John Lopez, RSFr.
C – Jake Brendel, RSJr.; Carl Hulick, RSSo.
RG – Alex Redmond, So.; NaJee Toran, Fr.
RT – Poasi Moala, RSFr.; Ben Wysocki, RSJr.
Of course, the lineup is still very fluid — particularly without junior tackle Simon Goines (leg) and graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche (still awaiting admissions clearance). Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who received an associate head coach title in February, also looks for positional flexibility in his recruits and is always open to shifting his players around. He also stressed that he hasn’t gotten a chance to look at the unit in pads yet this spring.
Klemm talked at length about a few of the Bruins after Thursday’s practice.
Caleb Benenoch: “He looks like a totally different person. We were laughing the other day. We were looking at him on the internet. He was about 350 in high school, belly hanging between his legs in his stance and all that. So that’s really helped him out a lot in terms of — not just being able to get through practice — but as practice goes on, that he gets better and better as defenders get a little tired. Continue reading
The stretch marks across his chest, the suddenly swollen shoulders — Caleb Benenoch hardly looks like the same player who entered UCLA as an offensive guard less than a year ago. After starting nine games at right tackle last season, the 6-foot-5 lineman is now the full-time left tackle.
He is also down five pounds to 315 despite looking significantly stronger. As a point of reference, this is what he looked like as a high schooler not too long ago.
– Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone talked more about quarterback Brett Hundley’s development over the past few months. Mazzone said Hundley is familiar enough with the playbook that he sometimes looks away from the sideline after just one hand signal.
– UCLA continues to run a lot of nickel defense, with safety Tahaan Goodman usually coming in as the fifth defensive back. The former four-star recruit played mostly special teams as a true freshman last season, and ended up with 12 tackles and two pass breakups.
When he gets on the field, rising senior Anthony Jefferson slides down to cornerback. Continue reading