UCLA post-spring position outlook: Secondary

Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. This blog will cover the status of each position group moving forward. Next up …

Secondary

UCLA is very familiar with offense-to-defense success. With the last project off to the NFL as a top-ten pick, can the Bruins duplicate that sort of transformation?

Heading into the 2014 season, the best bet on the roster is Fabian Moreau — a former three-star running back who converted to cornerback as soon as he arrived in Los Angeles two years ago. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound soon-to-be junior earned an all-conference honorable mention in just his second year at the position — one in which he started 12 games. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Safety Anthony Jefferson prepares for his final season


Safety Anthony Jefferson talked about this year’s UCLA secondary, as well as his status as the group’s elder statesman.

“I’m an old guy now, man,” he said. “It’s my last year. My job is to make sure these guys are all up to speed, making sure their heads are were it needs to be.”

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VIDEO: Safety Anthony Jefferson talks UW offense


UCLA safety Anthony Jefferson talked a bit about Washington’s offense after practice this week.

“They like to stretch the ball vertically, down the field,” he said. “That’s one thing we always have to protect, the deep ball. But they major in it.”

Washington quarterback Keith Price has 41 passing plays of at least 20 yards this season, tied for third in the Pac-12 with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

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Injury report: Left tackle Simon Goines to return in reserve role

Left tackle Simon Goines will be available against Arizona in a reserve role this Saturday, UCLA coach Jim Mora said. The sophomore injured his right MCL, and was still limping noticeably as he entered practice without pads Tuesday.

Starting running back Jordon James is also expected to play, practicing in full pads. The junior had missed three full games, and took six carries last Saturday before reaggravating his ankle injury. Continue reading

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Anthony Jefferson recalls Kodi Whitfield’s 30-yard touchdown

Kodi Whitfield’s 30-yard touchdown yesterday didn’t just give Stanford a 10-3 lead in the third quarter. The one-handed grab in double coverage locked down the top spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10, and established a strong case as the catch of the year.

“It was a phenomenal catch,” Cardinal linebacker Trent Murphy said. “Once I saw it up in the air, I started jogging out for the PAT because I knew he was coming down with it. We trust those guys to make those plays.”

UCLA safety Anthony Jefferson saw the play differently. Continue reading

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Safety Anthony Jefferson confident in secondary


Safety Anthony Jefferson was pleased with his secondary’s performance in its 34-27 win over Utah, pointing out the unit’s physicality at the point of the ball. He wasn’t aware the Bruins had collected six interceptions until a while after the game, however.

“We’ve been a confident secondary,” said Jefferson, who had two picks. “I just think it’s another game. … We have to go out with the same mindset, the same mentality. If the ball’s in the air, we have to be ballhawks.”

He and his teammates will have plenty of chances on Saturday. Cal throws 55.0 times per game, first in the Pac-12 and second in the country.

“I think it’ll be another good challenge for us,” Jefferson said.

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UCLA 34, Utah 27: Safety Anthony Jefferson


Safety Anthony Jefferson grabbed the first two interceptions of his career Thursday night against Utah’s Travis Wilson, whose 44 pass attempts were the most UCLA has seen this season. “I think it was a great test for us,” Jefferson said. “Utah’s a great football team. They came out, took their shots early, and I think we made our plays.”

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Inexperienced UCLA secondary eager to start season

He’s eager to watch them play.

No matter that the group returns only five games’ worth of combined starting experience, or the idea that most regard the unit as the team’s weakest link. Jim Mora is ready to see his UCLA secondary take on Nevada Saturday night — even if, he joked, he has to peek through his fingers.

“I want them to just be able to play free and not worry,” said the Bruins’ head coach. “Be able to cut it loose and let their skills take over. I think they’ve worked hard enough on the mental part that they know what’s going on, they know the adjustments.

“I don’t want to see them play hesitant.”

After weeks of hitting their own teammates — first in San Bernardino, then back at home in Westwood — the Bruins are itching to finally get on the field against some different uniforms. That may go double for the defensive backfield. Continue reading

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