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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Pac-12 Media Days roundup: Bruins and Trojans and Huskies; oh my!

Photo gallery from Day 2 of Pac-12 Media Days (Andy Holzman/Daily News)

The Pac-12 stretched its annual media event across two days for the first time, In case you missed any of it, here’s a roundup of all the coverage that appeared in Los Angeles News Group newspapers.

Day 1
– Columnist Jill Painter, on the “glitz and glamour” of the Pac-12′s coaches and athletes.
– The Pac-12 returns 10 of its starting quarterbacks … leaving defensive backs somewhat forgotten.
– It’s a high-scoring conference, but its member teams find the end zone in different ways.
Steve Sarkisian does not care that his USC team received just one division vote to UCLA’s 37.

Day 2
– He isn’t the biggest UCLA name, but linebacker Eric Kendricks is ready to play.
– How many good quarterbacks does the Pac-12 have? Not one, not two, not three
– Washington suspended quarterback Cyler Miles, the Pac-12 Networks are going international, and other conference notes.

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Myles Jack leads Bruins on early national awards watch lists

Less than two months stand between now and the start of college football, and the rush of preseason watch lists is starting up.

Unsurprisingly, Myles Jack pops up more than once.

UCLA’s do-it-all linebacker and part-time running back landed on watch lists for both the Paul Horning and Bednarik Awards. Jack was one of five finalists for the former last season, given to the most versatile player in the country.

He is joined on the Bednarik watch list for top defensive player by fellow Bruin linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Quarterback Brett Hundley, whom UCLA is marketing as a Heisman candidate, is on the watch list for the Maxwell Award for player of the year.

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Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks to represent UCLA at Pac-12 Media Days

Junior quarterback Brett Hundley and senior linebacker Eric Kendricks will represent UCLA at Pac-12 Media Days in late July, alongside Bruins head coach Jim Mora.

The event will be held at Paramount Studios in Hollywood on July 23 and 24, expanding to two days for the first time. UCLA will be available to most media on latter of the two days, taking the podium at 10:50 a.m.

You can see the full Pac-12 Media Days schedule below. Continue reading

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Linebackers Myles Jack, Eric Kendricks make Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list

Can UCLA pull off a repeat?

Linebackers Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks were both named to the 42-man watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy — which Anthony Barr won last year. Kendricks, a senior, also made last year’s preseason list.

One of the sport’s major national awards, its stated criteria is “to give equal weight to personal character as well as athletic performance from a defensive college player.”

Jack and Kendricks were two of the Pac-12′s 11 nominees. USC, Stanford and Washington each also placed two names on the list.

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UCLA post-spring position outlook: Linebackers

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 …

Linebackers

Myles Jack is already UCLA’s all-everything superstar, and did nothing this spring to suggest that his sophomore effort will far short of the already sky-high expectations. He continued to excel in coverage, and will play behind the ball when the team deploys a nickel formation. After finishing with just one sack last season, he’s also spent extra time focusing on his pass rushing moves.

He won’t practice at running back until the season starts, but that only gives him more time to cement his role as the Bruins’ defensive leader.

The question marks facing the team in its post-Anthony Barr era lie elsewhere. Continue reading

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Isaako Savaiinaea ready for larger role in Sun Bowl

With inside linebacker Eric Kendricks sidelined following ankle surgery, UCLA will rely instead on true freshman Isaako Savaiinaea.

Replacing the team’s leading tackler won’t be easy, but Savaiinaea has some experience trying to fill the void. After playing nearly an entire half at Stanford on Oct. 19 after Kendricks left with injury, the Hawaii native got his first career start two weeks later in a win over Colorado. He had six solo tackles.

“It was night and day,” Savaiinaea said of the two outings. “There was a big difference (in) … my patience and my feet. I had a little happy feet at Stanford. Just calming that down. Technique. That was the main thing.”

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Eric Kendricks out until spring after ankle surgery

UCLA’s impressive quartet of linebackers is short one member. Junior Eric Kendricks underwent surgery on his right ankle Friday, and will miss the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl against Virginia Tech.

Third in the conference with 106 tackles, Kendricks missed one game this season as he played through numerous injuries this season, including a shoulder sprain. He has struggled with pain in his right ankle for months, and had a procedure on it after spring practices.

The ankle should be weight-bearing again within the next couple of days.

“We expect him to make really great progress and be back for spring ball,” said head coach Jim Mora, who added that there was a lot of “back and forth” about when to do the surgery. Continue reading

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Bruins honored on Pac-12 All-Academic teams

The Pac-12 announced its all-academic teams today, which you can view in full here. The 11 UCLA players mentioned are listed below.

First team
FB Phillip Ruhl, RS Jr., 3.37, Political Science
C Jake Brendel, RS So., 3.49, Economics (two-time mention)
QB Jerry Neuheisel, RS Fr., 3.56, undecided (special teams selection)

Second team
LB Aramide Olaniyan, RS Jr., 3.30, Political Science

Honorable mentions: FB Luke Gane, Rs. Jr.; LB Ryan Hofmeister, Rs. Jr.; LB Eric Kendricks, Rs. Jr.; LB Taylor Lagace, Rs. Fr.; LS Christopher Longo, Rs. So.; RB Steve Manfro, Rs. So.; RB Paul Perkins, Rs. Fr.

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At a glance: No. 16 UCLA at Arizona

No. 16 UCLA (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (6-2, 3-2)
Location:
Arizona Stadium, Nov. 9, 7 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen, Maria Taylor)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: UCLA crushed Arizona 66-10, the most lopsided win in the all-time series. Running back Johnathan Franklin set the school’s career rushing mark with a 37-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and he Bruins’ led 42-3 at the half.

Key storylines: The Bruins haven’t won in Tucson since 2003, when they rallied back from an 11-point halftime deficit to win 24-21. Also, this happened the last time they went to the Zona Zoo. Continue reading

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