UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked on Thursday about the keys to stopping Cal’s explosive offense, and also touched on the state of the Bruins’ offensive line: offensive tackle Simon Goines, who has yet to play this season after undergoing ankle surgery in August, had “a good week of practice”; offensive guard Alex Redmond remains a gametime decision with a sprained ankle.
UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke will have a procedure on right knee on Tuesday, said head coach Jim Mora.
The junior was on crutches and had his right knee heavily wrapped. Initially thought to be a bruise, the severity of Orjioke’s injury is still uncertain pending further medical examination. He has eight tackles this season in reserve action, including one for loss.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s just something minor,” Mora said. “Maybe he misses this game and he’s back next week.”
Starting offensive guard Alex Redmond (ankle) is still in a boot after spraining his ankle in the first half of UCLA’s win at Arizona State last Thursday, but Mora didn’t rule him out of playing against Utah this weekend. Continue reading
In the second quarter of what would become UCLA’s 62-27 blowout of Arizona State, Brett Hundley showed everyone just how healthy he was.
On second-and-7 near midfield, the Bruins’ star quarterback capped a six-yard scramble with a hurdle, leaping over one linebacker before another came and hit him on his left arm. Hundley knew that this could happen — that by favoring thrill over caution, he could open himself up to defenders who were surely eyeing that heavy brace covering his left elbow.
He also knew he didn’t care.
“I’m playing football,” Hundley said. “I can’t not do what I like doing and how I like playing. … That’s what I wanted to do this game, is not come in and think that I’m limiting myself by not running. I wanted to show that I could still run the ball and still do all the things God has blessed me to do.”
Arizona State bore the brunt of all that Thursday night. This was as masterful a performance that Hundley has ever delivered in UCLA colors — one only highlighted by the fact that it came less than two weeks after an elbow injury that had fans holding their breath.
His final line was absurd: 355 yards and four touchdowns on just 23 pass attempts. He only had five incompletions, and two were dropped by receiver Kenneth Walker. He tacked on 72 rushing yards, punching in a one-yard touchdown for the final score, after the game was well in hand. In the end zone, he looked up at the stands and slapped his left arm.
His two 80-yard passes were a career-high, and marked UCLA’s longest pass completion since Drew Olson’s 91-yarder to Joe Cowan in 2005. He now has seven 300-yard games in his career four behind Cade McNown’s school record of 11.
In another blowout, UCLA might have already trotted out backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, the team’s savior in a 20-17 win against Texas almost two weeks ago. But Hundley wasn’t sitting this one out. Not in front of his hometown crowd, not when he had missed nearly the entire game against the Longhorns, and certainly not against the team that had beaten him a year ago for the Pac-12 South title.
“Brett, I’ve never seen him this hyped (as he was) this whole week,” said receiver Thomas Duarte.
» Someone scratched “UCLA” into Arizona State’s midfield pitchfork logo before kickoff, and the Bruins all but said that one of them was responsible.
Take it away, Brett Hundley and Thomas Duarte:
Mildly reminiscent of another midfield controversy, perhaps?
» UCLA’s offensive line played one of its better games of the season, allowing Hundley to get sacked just once despite losing starting left guard Alex Redmond in the first half. Continue reading
UCLA sophomore guard Alex Redmond has switched to center due to offensive line injuries, a shift that has forced him to read defenses and make calls.
“That’s my one tough spot,” Redmond said. “I’ll get up to the line tired as heck — our tempo’s so high this year — and I’m like, ‘All right, that guy over there, guys!’ and then snapping the ball and everything. It’s more responsibility, but it’s fun. I’m glad they trust me enough to put me at center.”
But the more pressing question — what’s with the haircut?
For the second year in a row, a true freshman start a season opener on UCLA’s offensive line.
After enrolling in spring, four-star recruit NaJee Toran is on track to start at right guard. In 2013, it was Alex Redmond who began the season there — though injuries eventually pushed two other first-year players into the starting five. Redmond is slated to start at left guard as a sophomore.
Toran has taken the bulk of first-team reps on the opposite side over the last week, and based on his conversations with offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, he expects to be in the starting lineup when the Bruins face Virginia on Aug. 30.
“A big possibility,” Toran said. “Just keep playing like I am, that’s where I’ll be at, most likely.” Continue reading