Head coach Jim Mora
Quarterback Josh Rosen
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley
Receiver Eldridge Massington
Linebacker Jayon Brown
Offensive lineman Conor McDermott
The first five games of Eldridge Massington’s career went about as well as he could have hoped. On nine catches, he totaled 233 yards and two touchdowns to start the 2014 season, including an 80-yard score to mark his first career trip into the end zone.
It certainly didn’t hurt that he roomed with quarterback Brett Hundley. That friendship blossomed into natural chemistry on the field, and helped the 6-foot-3 wideout finish fourth on the team with 367 receiving yards.
But Hundley went to the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick this past spring, and that’s left Massington in a bit of a rut. Through five games, he only caught five passes for 49 yards. Eight Bruins already have at least 50.
Asked about his connection with freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, Massington said: “It’s been cool. It’s not like me and Brett, but me and him are starting to establish a good relationship. It’ll never be like me and Brett, but he’s a great guy. I like him a lot.”
UCLA has not produced a 1,000-yard receiver since 2011. Looking at the state of the Bruins’ offense, it’s a good bet that the drought will extend for another season.
Such is the nature of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s scheme. For three years, UCLA has divvied up targets between bevy of receivers, racking up significant total yards without creating a dominant No. 1 wideout. In 2014, Jordan Payton became the first Bruin to record more than 60 catches in the Jim Mora era; that same season, 12 others in the Pac-12 cleared that same threshold.
Payton might crack four-digit yardage as a senior, but the chemistry he built with Brett Hundley might not necessarily carry over when UCLA picks a new starter. (Even last year, Payton’s production tailed off as the season progressed; he didn’t top 58 yards or catch a single touchdown in his last four games.) This is not to say that the receiving corps are in any real trouble. After all, they return all but one member, and add a few others. Continue reading
» Myles Jack worked a bit as a returner on Monday, and yeah — it’d be a ton of fun to watch the linebacker toss his 6-foot-1, 231-pound frame around on special teams in a real game. Don’t hold your breath, though.
“If he’s doing that, he’s just messing around,” said head coach Jim Mora, who expressed surprise that Jack had been returning kicks. “Myles has to be moving out there. So if there’s a drill he’s not involved in, he just goes and gets involved. I didn’t even know he was taking reps back there. He’s not on the depth chart as a kick returner.”
And given UCLA’s depth there, putting Jack at further risk of injury seems foolhardy — no matter how thrilling the potential highlights.
In addition to No. 1 returner Ishmael Adams, the current rotation on kick and punt returns includes safety Jaleel Wadood, receiver Jordan Lasley, receiver Devin Fuller, running back Craig Lee, receiver Kenneth Walker, safety Randall Goforth and receiver Aaron Sharp.
» Not much has changed in the ongoing quarterback race. Josh Rosen, Jerry Neuheisel, Asiantii Woualrd and Mike Fafaul each took a share of reps today, and none of them did anything that seriously upset the perceived pecking order behind center. Continue reading