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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Jordon James, Eric Kendricks game-time decisions Saturday

UCLA running back Jordon James and linebacker Eric Kendricks are both game-time decisions against Colorado this Saturday, head coach Jim Mora said.

James has missed three full games since spraining his ankle in a 34-27 win at Utah on Oct. 3. The junior entered that game as the nation’s fifth-leading rusher. Continue reading

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LT Simon Goines, LB Eric Kendricks practice lightly

Wrecked by injuries, UCLA started three true freshmen on its offensive line in a 42-14 loss at Oregon.

Reinforcements are working back. Sophomore Simon Goines (knee) and Conor McDermott (shoulder) both practiced Tuesday, albeit without pads. Goines, who started at right tackle before moving to left, was still limping and had his right knee wrapped.

(Starting left tackle Torian White’s season ended on Oct. 3 when he broke a bone and tore a ligament near his ankle.)

“They develop a sense of urgency to get back,” head coach Jim Mora said. “I feel that with a lot of guys. You look at our injury report and it’s pretty vast. You see a bunch of guys that want to get back out here and do whatever they can, whatever they can.”

Linebacker Eric Kendricks, who played through a back bruise with the help of an anesthetic shot on Saturday, was at practice without pads. Continue reading

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LB Isaako Savaiinaea trying to shed ‘high school habits’


When linebacker Eric Kendricks left at halftime of UCLA’s 24-10 loss at Stanford, true freshman Isaako Savaiinaea moved up to first-string. Rated, the No. 1-ranked recruit out of Hawaii said he needed a series to fully acclimate himself to the game.

“I got into a lot of high school habits,” he said. “That’s what I’m working on this week, just fixing my technique. … Playing high. In high school, you could just throw linemen around.”

After notching five tackles, how much Savaiinaea plays at Oregon on Saturday remains to be seen. Kendricks’ tests for kidney damage turned up negative, and he is expected to play through bruising on the surrounding tissue. He participated fully in Wednesday’s practice, taking the red non-contact jersey he wore a day earlier.

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Linebacker Eric Kendricks probable for Oregon

At least one of many ailing Bruins is expected to play against No. 2 Oregon this Saturday.

Inside linebacker Eric Kendricks — second in the conference with 9.33 tackles per game — will play against the Ducks, UCLA coach Jim Mora said Tuesday. The junior was taken to the hospital at halftime of the Bruins’ 24-10 loss at Stanford this past weekend, but was released after tests showed no sign of major injury.

Kendricks has bruising on either his kidney or the surrounding tissue, and started the week of practice in a non-contact red jersey.

“Eric Kendricks, it’s going to take a lot to keep that guy down,” Mora said. “He’s a friggin’ great player. He’s a tremendous competitor, heck of a leader. He’s got the spirit that you love on your team.” Continue reading

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