Wednesday practice notes: Safety Randall Goforth more assertive

Attrition has left rising sophomore Randall Goforth as UCLA’s most experienced defensive back.

Tevin McDonald, who had 79 tackles last season, is transferring to Eastern Washington after being dismissed prior to spring camp. Dietrich Riley, who had 36 tackles through eight games in 2011, is unavailable too; already working back from a neck injury, a separated shoulder has left him on the exercise bike.

So here’s Goforth, whose 40 tackles as a freshman were overshadowed by a Twitter impersonator that trash-talked USC players using his name. The 5-foot-10 safety had his moments last season, but ended the campaign on a down note — getting burned by Baylor’s tailbacks and receivers in a 49-26 Holiday Bowl loss.

This spring, head coach Jim Mora said Goforth has a much greater command of the defense, praising his assertiveness in making calls.

“He’s playing with a lot more confidence,” Mora said. “I really believe that experience, even though it wasn’t always positive last year — he struggled in that Baylor game. But I think he went back and he really learned from it.”

Added Goforth, who said he’s up from 175 pounds to 193: “All offseason, I was just getting bigger, getting stronger, getting faster so I can more physical on the field.”

» Replacing tight end/Y-receiver Joseph Fauria as a red-zone threat won’t be easy. No. 1 receiver Shaq Evans figures to get more looks there, as will sophomore Jordan Payton — who has had a solid if not spectacular camp so far.

Also key will be the performance of Darius Bell, whom Mora called one of last season’s most underrated Bruins. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

Monday night practice notes: Anthony Jefferson shedding injury history

Maybe the wind helped as it whipped passes off course Monday night, making for the worst quarterback performance yet through UCLA’s spring practices. Or maybe this is how Anthony Jefferson was always meant to play.

The rising junior was once a four-star athlete in the class of 2010, a rangy 6-foot-1 specimen pegged by Rivals.com to have “blue chip” size, agility and ball skills. But a variety of ails set him back, from a broken foot his freshman year to back surgery in 2011.

Last season, his eight appearances resulted in just five tackles — four of which came at Washington State. On Monday, however, he looked like a solid rotation player, sticking close to receivers on several routes and using his long frame to break up passes.

“I think that finally, he’s feeling more healthy,” head coach Jim Mora said. “I think finally, AJ is getting back to what he once was physically. I think it’s showing in the way he plays, the confidence he plays with and the plays he’s making on the ball.” Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA football injury update

The most significant injury so far in spring camp didn’t happen to a player.

While trying to demonstrate a route on Sunday, UCLA wide receivers coach Eric Yarber went down with what appeared to be a torn tendon in his quad. The 49-year-old lay on the ground for a few minutes before carted off.

“That was scary,” head coach Jim Mora said. “Initially, we went over there and I thought he either dislocated his hip or his knee. My first thought, honestly, was oh no — is he having a heart attack?”

A torn tendon was a relief after that initial scare, and Yarber should be back on the field barking at wideouts before too long.

“He’s got to remember that he’s almost 50,” Mora said. “His body doesn’t work like an 18, 20 year old anymore. I think he learned that rather dramatically today.”

As for the players, linebacker Eric Kendricks was on crutches and a boot after spraining his right ankle on Thursday. Mora termed it as “mild to significant,” and wasn’t sure if the rising junior would return this April. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

Dietrich Riley disappointed for dismissed safety Tevin McDonald

Safety Tevin McDonald’s dismissal for a violation of team policy, announced last week, has left the secondary without any returning starters. Junior Dietrich Riley, a fellow member of UCLA’s 2010 recruiting class, now takes the mantle as the group’s most experienced player despite missing all of last season recovering from his neck injury.

“We’re disappointed, but you can’t change what happened in the past,” Riley said. “You just gotta accept it and move forward.

“I wish him the best of luck. I love that dude. We were really close. We made great plays on the field together. I know he’s gonna learn from this, and he’s definitely gonna have a great comeback.” Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA football spring practice primer

Football’s back! As a reminder, here’s UCLA’s full spring practice schedule. All sessions are open to the public and will last approximately two hours.

Tues. Apr. 2 – 7 a.m.
Thu. Apr. 4 – 7 a.m.
Sat. Apr. 6 – 10:45 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 8 – 6 p.m.
Wed. Apr. 10 – 7 a.m.
Thu. Apr. 11 – 7 a.m.
Sat. Apr. 13 – 10:30 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 15 – 6 p.m.
Wed. Apr. 17 – 7 a.m.
Thu. Apr. 18 – 7 a.m.
Sat. Apr. 20 – 10:30 a.m.
Mon. Apr. 22 – 6 p.m.
Wed. Apr. 24 – 7 a.m.
Thu. Apr. 25 – 7 a.m.
Sat. Apr. 27 – 5 p.m. (Rose Bowl)

A quick primer after the jump. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someonePrint this page