By the numbers countdown to kickoff: 9 days

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

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, which led the team

9 RETURNING STARTERS ON DEFENSE

UCLA sent two big stars on defense to the NFL, but the Bruins are set to reload quickly with nine returning starters.

Eddie Vanderdoes replaces first-round pick Kenny Clark in the starting lineup after a season-ending knee injury last year. Vanderdoes had never missed a game in his college career prior to his injury and made 19 combined starts during his first two years with the Bruins.

Cameron Judge is set to take a starting outside linebacker role opposite Jayon Brown. Judge, a senior, played in 12 games last season and made one start while Myles Jack left school early to prepare for the NFL Draft and recover from a meniscus injury.

Deon Hollins started 12 games last season as an outside linebacker in UCLA’s 3-4 front, but with the team’s switch to a 4-3, defensive end Matt Dickerson worked mostly with the No. 1 unit during training camp. Dickerson played in every game last year and made one start, against Washington State.

The Bruins could have 10 (or possibly 11) upperclassmen starting on defense:

  • Defensive line: Takkarist McKinley (Sr.), Eli Ankou (R-Sr.), Vanderdoes (R-Jr.), Dickerson (Jr.)
  • Linebackers: Brown (Sr.), Kenny Young (Jr.) or Isaako Savaiinaea (Sr.), Judge (Sr.)
  • Defensive backs: Fabian Moreau (Sr.), Randall Goforth (R-Sr.), Jaleel Wadood (Jr.), Marcus Rios (R-Sr.) or Nate Meadors (So.)

The group’s experience is “golden,” Vanderdoes said.

“That’s the biggest asset we have right now,” he continued. “We’ve been through everything. … We’ve experienced big losses, small losses, everything, so I don’t think anything can faze us at this point. We’ve seen it all, we’ve experienced it all. We know what it’s like.”

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA’s Jake Brendel makes Pac-12 All-Academic first team (again!)

UCLA center Jake Brendel made his fourth appearance on the Pac-12 All-Academic first team, becoming the 10th player in conference history to do so. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)

UCLA center Jake Brendel made his fourth appearance on the Pac-12 All-Academic first team, becoming the 10th conference player to do so. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)

UCLA center Jake Brendel was named to the Pac-12’s All-Academic first team on Tuesday, earning the honor for the fourth straight year.

No football player in the conference has done that since Oregon State linebacker Cameron Collins, who accomplished the same feat in 2011. Only eight others in league history have ever pulled it off.

Brendel, a redshirt senior, has a 3.47 GPA in economics. He also holds the UCLA record with 50 career starts.

The Bruins were represented on the All-Academic second team by sophomore defensive lineman Matt Dickerson (3.16 GPA, political science). UCLA’s honorable mentions were tight end Colby Cyburt, fullback Taylor Lagace, longsnapper Christopher Longo, defensive back Dylan Luther, and quarterback Jerry Neuheisel.

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA will use two players to replace Eddie Vanderdoes

UCLA defensive lineman Matt Dickerson (99) will be one of the two players expected to try and replace Eddie Vanderdoes. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA defensive lineman Matt Dickerson (99) will be one of the two players expected to try and replace Eddie Vanderdoes. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

After losing defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes to a torn ACL, UCLA will attempt to fill the void with two players: redshirt junior Eli Ankou and sophomore Matt Dickerson.

“It’s going to be hard to replace Eddie,” said defensive line coach Angus McClure. “Obviously we all know the type of player he is, the type of force he can be.”

Still, McClure expressed a bit of optimism. Ankou, he said, is one of the stronger guys on the team, and played well in his 20-plus snaps in UCLA’s 34-16 win over Virginia on Saturday. And whereas Ankou is more a of a “bull-rusher,” Dickerson will provide more speed, length and pass rush to the position. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

UCLA spring camp position review: Defensive line

Enjoy watching Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes while you can. Both could be signing NFL contracts by this time next year.

UCLA will enter this fall with arguably the best defensive line duo in the conference, a pair that last season combined for 108 tackles, including 11 for loss. All-Pac-12 nods aren’t the most accurate measures of talent and/or performance, but of the eight defensive linemen that made first or second team last fall, Clark is one of two that return. (The other is Oregon’s DeForest Buckner, who like Clark is making NFL mock drafts as a potential first-round pick.) Vanderdoes followed right behind as an honorable mention.

Clark in particular was vital to the Bruins’ run defense, and is about as stout a nose tackle as you can find in college football. Looking back at his impact the last two seasons, it’s incredible that UCLA was considering redshirting him back in August 2013, during his first camp in San Bernardino. There were several times last fall when opposing offenses noticeably directed the ball away from the middle, where he and Vanderdoes stood as imposing obstacles. Continue reading

Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page