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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Three Bruins leave with injury at Stanford

After starting the season off relatively healthy, UCLA is starting to take hits.

Linebacker Eric Kendricks was taken to Stanford Hospital at halftime to receive tests for kidney pain. Left tackle Simon Goines went down with an injury, shortly followed by backup Conor McDermott. Goines later returned, but the Bruins’ offensive line — already without tackle Torian White — can’t afford to lose any bodies.

The Bruins, outgained 207 offensive yards to 84 in the first half, trail the Cardinal 17-3 with a little over three minutes to go in the third. Quarterback Brett Hundley is just 10 of 18 with 58 yards and an interception.

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Phil Steele names eight Bruins midseason All-Pac-12

In the mood for a round of meaningless-but-encouraging awards? Have some midseason All-Pac-12 team mentions, courtesy of college football guru Phil Steele.

Steele named eight UCLA players to his all-conference squads, with outside linebacker Anthony Barr and left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo leading the way on the first team. The pair also landed on Steele’s midseason All-American team, with Barr earning a first-team nod and Su’a-Filo a second.

Center Jake Brendel and linebacker Eric Kendricks both made the midseason second team. Receiver Shaq Evans and running back Steve Manfro joined the pair there, but earned their spots for contributions at kick and punt return.

Quarterback Brett Hundley ended up on the third team, behind Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Oregon State’s Sean Mannion. Defensive end Cassius Marsh rounded out the UCLA names on the list.

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Linebacker Eric Kendricks talks Stanford match-up


UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks, currently fifth in the Pac-12 with 47 tackles, is eager to face a more physical team in Stanford. The Cardinal are the 116th in the country with 23.5 pass attempts per game, throwing on just 37.6 percent of their offensive downs.

“We’ve got to be able to hit them in the nose,” Kendricks said.

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Eric Kendricks named Lott IMPACT Player of the Week


UCLA inside linebacker Eric Kendricks somehow missed out on all-conference honors last season despite leading the Pac-12 with 150 tackles. The junior hasn’t lost a step so far this fall, twice notching double-digit tackles through four games.

His 13-tackle showing in a 34-27 victory at Utah earned him Lott IMPACT Player of the Week. Kendricks was responsible for one of the Bruins’ six interceptions too.

Linebacker Anthony Barr won the Lott honor after logging 11 tackles and three forced fumbles in UCLA’s win over Nebraska last month. Five of six winners this year have come from the Pac-12.

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Linebacker Eric Kendricks returns to first full practice since spring


After sitting out most of spring and fall camp, UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks returned to 11-on-11 drills Tuesday morning, the most field action he’s seen in nearly four months.

Last year’s Pac-12 leader with 150 tackles, the 6-foot, 228-pound junior said he underwent ankle surgery four weeks ago. The procedure was optional, but he said he didn’t opt for it because of worsening pain. He just wanted to be fully ready for the season.

“It feels great to be back,” Kendricks said. “To be honest with you, I’ve just been taking it easy. I’ve been in the training room. I got a lot of treatment in San Bernardino.”

He said Tuesday that he had been instructed not to disclose the exact nature of the injury.

“It was just a little bit nagging,” he said. “It was annoying. It just wasn’t normal. I know how my body feels when it’s normal, and it was just a little bit off.” Continue reading

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Friday night notes: Eddie Vanderdoes commands double teams

Half a day after his first extended practice, Eddie Vanderdoes started turning heads.

Still working his way back from a tight back, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive end commanded regular double teams — quickly backing up his ranking as the No. 21 recruit in the country. Even when going up against starting offensive linemen Caleb Benenoch and Torian White, Vanderdoes more than held his own.

Vanderdoes looked more bothered by fatigue Friday night than by the back issues (likely a herniated disc) that had sidelined him for over a week. If the injury doesn’t flare up again, the Auburn, Calif., native will be a beast.

– Before practice started, quarterback Brett Hundley tried to drill a fast-moving camera drone from at least 40 yards away. As teammates and coaches formed an eager audience, he missed the target by just two or three feet. Even got plenty and oohs and aahs out of the crowd.

– Devin Fuller is such a difficult cover coming out of the slot. Continue reading

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UCLA’s list of possible concussions swells to seven

Head cases have beset the Bruins this August.

Whether exacerbated by the San Bernardino heat or simply a bit of bad luck, seven UCLA players were sidelined Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms — taking a large chunk of the offensive line.

“I don’t know why we seem to have this rash of head injuries,” Mora said. “I’m not sure how serious all of them are, but we’re going to treat them all as if they’re very serious.”

The line was without redshirt sophomores Kevin McReynolds and Ben Wysocki, as well as true freshmen Alex Redmond, Poasi Moala and John Lopez. Redmond and Wysocki were competing at right guard, while Moala had taken the majority of second-team snaps at right tackle.

The attrition shuffled what was gradually becoming a more stable line. In one first-team iteration, All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo moved from guard to left tackle, while backup center Carl Hulick slid to left guard.

“It kind of affects everything you do,” Mora said. “It affects the development of the depth. It affects our ability to practice the way we’d like to practice. We just have to modify it.”

Added Su’a-Filo: “When we have the luxury of numbers, we can run, one, two, three groups. With these concussions, we’ve just got to take more reps. We’ve got to make do with what we have.”

Defensive Ian Taubler and running back Malcolm Jones are also out with concussion-like symptoms.

OTHER INJURIES

Freshman defensive end Kylie Fitts suffered full-body cramps. Mora said he drank enough water afterward to gain 8.5 pounds. Junior linebacker Eric Kendricks has missed all team activities in fall camp recovering from an ankle procedure. He is expected to play in the Aug. 31 season opener, and may return to practice next week. Continue reading

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Fall camp preview: Linebackers

When it comes to UCLA linebackers, might as well start here:

Anthony Barr announced himself to many national viewers with that hit, even if it was helped by abysmal blocking. It was a microcosm of the UCLA-USC rivalry tilting toward Westwood: Matt Barkley’s college career ended, and Barr made him highlight-reel fodder for a potential Heisman campaign. He’ll likely be a top-ten pick come May, after he’s flooded with various all-conference and All-American honors.

Already a dynamic player, Barr has worked to improve his pass coverage skills and bulked up to an impressive 255 pounds. While he’s easily the team’s best player, his position teammates aren’t shabby either. Continue reading

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