By the numbers countdown to kickoff: 10 days

Tight end Nate Iese. (Photo by Micah Escamilla/The Sun, SCNG)

Tight end Nate Iese could be a big factor in how the Bruins plan to replace Thomas Duarte’s red zone production last year. (Photo by Micah Escamilla/The Sun, SCNG)

Countdown the days to UCLA’s season-opener against Texas A&M with key stats facing the Bruins this year.

10 RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS SCORED BY THOMAS DUARTE LAST YEAR

Thomas Duarte was UCLA’s main red zone target last season as he led the team with 10 receiving touchdowns. The hybrid receiver gave up his final year of eligibility in favor of the NFL, which left a gaping 6-foot-3, 221-pound hole in the UCLA offense.

Other than Duarte, no Bruin caught more than five touchdown passes from quarterback Josh Rosen. Jordan Payton was second on the team with five, followed by three from Devin Fuller. Both are now in the NFL.

Of UCLA’s returning receivers, only Darren Andrews and Kenneth Walker III caught a touchdown pass, each hauling in one last year. Running back Nate Starks also caught one last year.

While the entire receiving corps focuses on finding a replacement for Payton, the UCLA leader in career receptions, the tight ends could also help fill Duarte’s production. Tight end Nate Iese emerged as a receiving threat for the Bruins during training camp and could be a good target for Rosen.

“He’s big, he’s athletic,” Rosen said of Iese. “If you were to create a football player in Madden, I’m pretty sure a lot of his physical attributes would be on there.”

Freshmen Caleb Wilson and Jordan Wilson also impressed during fall camp. At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Jordan Wilson provides a big target that UCLA hasn’t seen in recent years at tight end, head coach Jim Mora said.

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UCLA links: Men’s basketball cruises to win in Australia

UCLA coach Steve Alford said this year's Bruins don't respond as well to "mental pressure" as last year's team. (David Crane/Staff)

UCLA coach Steve Alford praised his three freshmen after the Bruins blew out Sydney University in their exhibition game Tuesday. (David Crane/Staff)

Freshmen starred for the UCLA men’s basketball team in its 123-76 exhibition blowout victory over Sydney University on Tuesday.

UCLA’s trio of freshmen had 46 combined points with TJ Leaf leading the way with a team-high 21. Ike Anigbogu had 16 and Lonzo Ball had nine. Leaf added nine rebounds and Anigbogu had eight boards. Ball had four assists, two steals and two blocks.

“They were outstanding, all three of them – Ike, Lonzo and TJ,” head coach Steve Alford told UCLABruins.com. “We know what they can do. They came here in their first exhibition game and all three played very well.”

UCLA seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford had 18 and 17 points, respectively.

Other links:

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Video: Josh Rosen, Mike Fafaul, Devon Modster, Eldridge Massington

Quarterback Mike Fafaul (12) fires a pass during individual drills at practice. Photo by Brittany Murray/Staff Photographer

Quarterback Mike Fafaul (12) fires a pass during individual drills at practice. Photo by Brittany Murray/Staff Photographer

Today was the start of the “game week” schedule, so, again, no more official practice reports. But here is a story for today about four Bruins who, I thought, helped their cases during training camp.

There’s a sidebar coming HERE about Mike Fafaul and his decision to stick it out in Westwood.

Here are videos from today’s practice of Josh Rosen, Fafaul, Devon Modster and Eldridge Massington:

Rosen talks about his training camp, this receivers and how he learned the playbook.


Fafaul talks about returning for his fifth year at UCLA, how the new offense has helped him and what he sees from the freshmen quarterbacks. You’ll unfortunately hear an extremely loud helicopter flying overhead in one part, thus drowning out Fafaul’s answer to a question about the receivers. Here’s what he said there: “I think they’re fantastic. They’ve had a great camp, all of them. To have Ishmael Adams on the offensive side of the ball is amazing. He had a terrific spring. Alex Van Dyke is really stepping up, Jordan Lasley, Eldridge Massington, they’re all playing phenomenal, I think.”


Devon Modster talks about learning the playbook, how the UCLA offense differs from what he’s run in the past and how Rosen helps him on the field.


Eldridge Massington talks about smoothing out the kinks in the offense, what each quarterback’s style is and how many people have asked him for tickets to UCLA’s season opener in his home state of Texas.

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VIDEO: Jim Mora, Josh Rosen, Nate Meadors

UCLA opened the San Bernardino portion of training camp Monday morning. UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked about the change of scenery and the progression of the offense. Of the Mique Juarez situation, Mora said “nothing has changed” with Juarez’s status.


Quarterback Josh Rosen talks about the benefits of San Bernardino, developing chemistry with his receivers and how the new offense can help the defense.


Defensive back Nate Meadors talks about his homecoming to San Bernardino, what he tells people about the heat and how he handles the competition in the secondary. At the end, when he’s looking off into the distance and talking about climbing something, it’s in relation to a large, rope course tower in the background, in case you were curious.

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Josh Rosen in Sports Illustrated

The cover of Sports Illustrated features UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen

The cover of Sports Illustrated features UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen

Sports Illustrated released its college football preview with Josh Rosen gracing the cover. The magazine’s Pete Thamel profiles Rosen, getting a behind-the-scenes look at Rosen’s incredibly fratty apartment and his life as a budding football star trying to hang on to life as a college student.

“I’m not going to f‑‑‑‑‑‑ get in trouble for drugs or anything like that, but I don’t want to be this crystal-clean guy with perfect responses,” Rosen told Thamel. “I’m not going to pretend to be 50. I just want to be happy and enjoy the experiences I have and take advantage of every opportunity I’ve been given.”

Speaking of Rosen, he met with the media today after practice and he had more interesting comments about his life in the spotlight. He admitted he needs to be “a little more mature” in how he expresses his thoughts on social media.

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