Spring notes: ‘Real’ spring game hinges on health of UCLA offensive line


– With the UCLA in injury-prevention mode, Monday night practice was fairly light and almost entirely non-contact. The Bruins ran some seven-on-seven drills, but otherwise, there wasn’t much competitive work to start the week.

Head coach Jim Mora said he wasn’t sure yet whether or not he would keep the team out of pads for the rest of the week. Schools around the country have already held their spring games, and many of them seem to have played full-on competitions rather than the mixed-drill event UCLA held a year ago. Mora said last week that he hopes for more “actual football” on Saturday at the StubHub Center, but much of that will depend on the team’s health.

“You always want to put on a good show for your fans,” Mora said. “People come out that support your program, I think it’s important that you put on a good show for them. Our primary objective has to be the health of our football team, and I think everyone would understand that.” Continue reading

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Spring notes: Head coach Jim Mora talks up cornerback Fabian Moreau


– Head coach Jim Mora pointed out much of Fabian Moreau’s progress at cornerback, going so far into the hyperbole as to call him a potential All-American.

While it might still be too early to ink that sort of praise, Moreau is clearly turning himself into UCLA’s best defensive back. Even Mora couldn’t resist; in the span of four minutes or so, Mora went from saying he didn’t notice Moreau much (a good thing) to saying the former high school tailback is a future first-round NFL draft pick.

– Mora also said next Saturday’s “Spring Showcase” will involve a lot more actual football than it did last year. Continue reading

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Spring notes: UCLA offensive line plays round of ‘musical chairs’


– UCLA juggled its offensive line significantly for the first time this spring, with two starters sitting out with minor injuries. Right guard Alex Redmond has been semi-limited the entire month with a cast over his left hand, while left tackle Caleb Benenoch hyperextended his knee early Monday night.

That meant Malcolm Bunche got most of the first-team reps at right tackle, his first time moving away from left guard this spring. The graduate transfer from Miami actually warmed up there early Monday evening before Benenoch was injured, with Scott Quessenberry taking his place at left guard. Head coach Jim Mora had been insistent that Bunche would stay at guard, but at around 6-foot-7, 330 pounds, the Bruins are probably going to at least try him outside some more before the season opener.

“He blocks out the sun,” said linebacker Myles Jack. Continue reading

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Spring notes: Malcolm Bunche makes practice debut at left guard


– Graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche finally debuted after missing the first week of UCLA’s spring practice while waiting for his paperwork to clear the admissions department. The former Miami starter looked impressive as the first-string left guard, though he got tired fairly quickly.

Bunche looks like a tackle at 6-foot-7, but head coach Jim Mora said the plan is to keep the senior at guard — pointing out his “guard girth” at 327 pounds.

Scott Quessenberry got some first-team reps at guard late in practice, but if the line gets fully healthy, he’ll almost certainly be a reserve.

Alex Redmond has participated in every practice, but has a cast over his left hand after a pre-spring surgery. UCLA’s everyday starter at right guard last year as a freshman, Redmond has sat out a few series here and there.

– Mora didn’t have a timeline for injured reserve lineman Ben Wysocki, who was on the early two-deep this spring. He could be out for the spring with a sprained ankle.

– Eldridge Massington redshirted last season while working his way back from a torn ACL he suffered in high school, but looks like he could be developing into a decent possession receiver and/or red-zone target. He doesn’t look like he has track-type speed anymore, but he used his strength and size to make several end-zone grabs on Monday night.

Devin Lucien is again coming down with highlight catch after highlight catch, something that he’s done before in past camps. The athletic wideout came on late last season, but has long looked better in practices than he has in games. With Shaq Evans gone now, Lucien could finally be in for a breakout as a redshirt junior.

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Spring notes: Jim Mora impressed by running back Craig Lee


– After redshirting this past season, Craig Lee looks like he might be the most talented runner on UCLA’s roster right now. The former four-star recruit still needs to improve his pass protection to ensure more reps, but he reeled off a number of nice runs on Saturday.

“He’s flashed the first two days without pads,” head coach Jim Mora said. “He didn’t look like anything different (in pads). He stood out to me.”

– Mora was similarly impressed by freshman Mossi Johnson, who still has a brace on his left knee after tearing three ligaments in January 2013 and grayshirting. The coaching staff didn’t decide to make him a full-time receiver until about three or weeks ago — partly based on his preference and partly on positional need. Continue reading

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Spring notes: Jim Mora talks about UCLA’s roster, scheme changes

– This was UCLA’s starting offensive line today: left tackle Caleb Benenoch, left guard Scott Quessenberry, center Jake Brendel, right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Poasi Moala.

With Torian White dismissed from the team and starting left tackle Simon Goines still recovering from a broken leg, four-fifths of the first-string line now hails from the 2013 signing class.

Moala is the only one who has no game experience, but Brendel called the freshman one of the more athletic tackles he’d ever seen. Moala also improved his body more than any other lineman did over the winter workouts, according to Mora. Continue reading

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Offensive tackle Torian White dismissed from UCLA football team

UCLA has dismissed offensive lineman Torian White, head coach Jim Mora announced today.

White was arrested on Nov. 17 on suspicion of sexual assault, and remains under investigation despite being released from jail three days later. He had been suspended indefinitely since then.

The 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle started four games last season before a leg injury, and also started 14 games as a redshirt freshman in 2012. The Bruins started three true freshmen on the offensive line after also losing tackle Simon Goines to a leg injury, but dropped its sacks allowed from 52 (in 2012) to 36.

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Defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes breaks foot, will miss UCLA’s spring practices

For at least the next few months, UCLA will be without a key part of its defensive line: rising star Eddie Vanderdoes.

Head coach Jim Mora said on a Bruin Report Online podcast that Vanderdoes broke a bone in his foot and will be out for spring. The Bruins start practicing on April 1 and will hold their “Spring Showcase” on April 26. Continue reading

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Mike Tuiasosopo to coach outside linebackers, special teams

New assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo will coach outside linebackers and special teams, UCLA officially announced today.

He fills the role vacated by Jeff Ulbrich, who was promoted to defensive coordinator after Lou Spanos left for the Tennessee Titans last month. Tuiasosopo had spent the bulk of his career as a defensive line coach, most recently at Colorado (2011-12) and Arizona (2004-10). Continue reading

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Nick Pasquale’s brother, A.J., to become football intern

A.J. Pasquale, brother of deceased UCLA receiver Nick Pasquale, will join the Bruins as a full-time intern. Nick died in September when he was struck by a car in San Clemente.

Since Nick’s death, head coach Jim Mora has reiterated that he would continue to support the Pasquale family and to keep them close to the program.

A.J. tweeted Tuesday night that he accepted the internship offer.

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