Eric Kendricks named Butkus finalist, Pac-12 Player of the Week

Eric Kendricks’ stellar season is garnering more and more recognition. UCLA’s senior linebacker became a Butkus Award finalist on Monday, and also picked up his second Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.

Kendricks is the second Bruin in as many years to be named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given each year to college football’s top linebacker. No UCLA player has ever won the Butkus; All-American linebacker Anthony Barr lost out to Alabama’s C.J. Mosley last season.

This year, Kendricks’ stiffest competition is likely Washington linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, who has 23.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. Kendricks has the edge in tackles (128 to 63) and interceptions (three to zero), but has just seven tackles for loss and two sacks. Continue reading

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Eric Kendricks, Myles Jack named Butkus Award semifinalists

UCLA’s Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack were both named among 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given each year to the best linebacker in the country.

Kendricks leads the Pac-12 with 93 tackles this season, and is just 43 tackles away from tying Jerry Robinson’s all-time school record of 468. The senior is coming off one of the best games of his career: a 16-tackle performance in the Bruins’ 40-37 win at Colorado that included an interception, as well as three third-down stops to force a punt or a field goal. All but one of his tackles were unassisted.

Head coach Jim Mora called it Kendricks’ best game of the season, adding that the tackle total wasn’t inflated by plays farther down the field. Continue reading

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UCLA’s Eric Kendricks named a Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist

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UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks has been named a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which former teammate Anthony Barr won a year ago.

The senior is one of 20 players still short-listed for the award, given each season to a top defensive player. The award purports to “give equal weight to personal character as well as athletic performance.”

Seven quarterfinalists hail from the Pac-12, more than any other conference. With 77 tackles this season, Kendricks is on pace to lead the league in the stat for the second time in three years.

Barr — who became a consensus All-American and the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft — displayed the award in a ceremony at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 4, during the Bruins’ 30-28 loss to Utah. UCLA received a $25,000 check toward its general scholarship fund.

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UCLA 36, Cal 34: Linebacker Eric Kendricks

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks talked about the defense’s performance in a 36-34 win at Cal, including cornerback Marcus Rios’ game-sealing interception and what it was like to have to constantly defend a short field after three turnovers.

“We’ve got to find ways to make field goals out of those drives,” Kendricks said. “We can’t let them score that easy. I think we have to go back to work on that this week. … We can’t respond like how we did.”

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UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week

After a star performance in UCLA’s 28-20 win over Virginia, linebacker Eric Kendricks was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.

The senior recorded a game-high 16 tackles against the Cavaliers, but also made two more highlight plays: forcing a fumble that turned into a 75-yard touchdown return for safety Randall Goforth, and taking back a pick-six of his own a few minutes later.

Despite all that, he didn’t seem satisfied.

“I left a lot of stuff on the field,” Kendricks said Monday. “I can improve every week. I made a lot of little rookie mistakes. … If you watch the film, you’d see that I made some key mistakes in the pass game as far as drops and stuff like that, so I’m gonna get back to it.” Continue reading

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UCLA defense scores three TDs in 28-20 win over Virginia

Charlottesville, Va. >> UCLA’s offense needed 43 minutes to score its first touchdown of the season.

Well, 43 minutes and 58 seconds, to be exact. In the third quarter of the No. 7 Bruins’ 28-20 win at Virginia, quarterback Brett Hundley took the handoff from six yards out, ran into a defender after three or four steps, and carried him the rest of the way. It was marvelous play, the type befitting someone who had graced two Sports Illustrated covers in three weeks this summer.

What didn’t fit the picture was … just about everything else. A team picked to make the inaugural College Football Playoff shouldn’t muster just 26 offensive yards in the second quarter. It shouldn’t have a offensive line that looked like Swiss cheese, even if the group isn’t at full health.

It shouldn’t need its defense to set historical milestones — not in the season opener against a 21-point underdog. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Linebacker Eric Kendricks scouts Virginia offense

Despite finishing last season as the nation’s No. 110 scoring offense, Virginia can at least take solace in its running back corps. Senior Kevin Parks returns as the program’s eighth-leading all-time rusher, and he has a pair of capable backups in Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd.

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks said the trio looks “shifty,” but stressed that he’ll be watching for hard, downhill runs.

“They’re going to take it to the perimeter a little bit,” Kendricks said. “They’ll have some lead guys pulling for them and stuff like that, but for the main part they’re going to get upfield.”

The senior co-captain also talked about Virginia’s quarterbacks, and what he looks for in opposing offensive lines.

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Jim Mora announces UCLA’s six captains for 2014

» UCLA voted on team captains last Thursday, and Jim Mora announced the picks Tuesday morning. Not a lot of surprises: on offense, quarterback Brett Hundley and center Jake Brendel; on defense, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa; on special teams, linebacker Ryan Hofmeister and fullback Taylor Lagace.

» Mora was confident that Brendel, who is recovering from an MCL injury, will be ready to play in the Bruins’ Aug. 30 season opener at Virginia.

Cornerback Marcus Rios (migraines) is seeing a specialist today. He missed a number of practices in San Bernardino before returning late in the week for sideline work. Continue reading

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