UCLA notes: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone high on UCLA receiver depth

» Despite Devin Lucien being sidelined by a head injury, UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone wasn’t concerned with the state of his receiving corps.

“I don’t look at this like, ‘Hey, these three guys are starters. These three guys are backups,’” he said Wednesday. “I’ve got about six guys out there that are all starters in my eyes. They kind of roll in, do their deal.”

Lucien finished his sophomore season strong, catching for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Bruins’ last five games. Without him lined up at outside, fellow camp standout Eldridge Massington would likely move into the starting lineup.

Junior Logan Sweet, who had three catches last year, also got first-team reps on Wednesday morning. Starting receiver Jordan Payton has practiced mostly at inside receiver the last few days due to other injuries, which helped open up a spot for Sweet.

“He’s really came a long ways from two years ago, when he first got here,” Mazzone said of Sweet. “He really figures into those top four or five guys at the outside for us.”

» Freshman quarterback Aaron Sharp participated in his first full practice after joining the team last night. Given how light the morning session was, however, the lefty didn’t get a chance to show off his arm. Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche moves to starting left tackle

RB Jordon James, right, carries the ball during the UCLA practice at Cal State San Bernardino. Wednesday, August 6, 2014. (Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Daily Bulletin)"

RB Jordon James, right, carries the ball during the UCLA practice at Cal State San Bernardino. Wednesday, August 6, 2014. (Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Daily Bulletin)”

» UCLA might have found its new starting left tackle in graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche. Used mostly at guard through spring and the first two days of training camp, the 6-foot-7 lineman moved to the edge on Wednesday with surprisingly good results.

With starting right tackle Conor McDermott (shoulder) held out for the day, sophomore Caleb Benenoch moved from left to right — vacating a spot for Bunche to shift out. Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said he may keep that formation moving forward.

You can read more about the Bruins’ offensive line situation here.

» Tahaan Goodman has been able to carry over the momentum he generated in spring. The sophomore safety just missed out on a highlight, one-handed interception. Quarterback Jerry Neuheisel had thrown a high ball over the middle, but Goodman jumped up and twisted back and got his right hand on it. Continue reading

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Spring notes: UCLA offensive line working through numerous injuries


UCLA’s offensive line continues to get dinged up.

Graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche left Wednesday’s morning practice early with an undisclosed injury, giving most of the first-team reps at right tackle to redshirt freshman Kenny Lacy. Starting right guard Alex Redmond has seen increasingly fewer contact reps with his left hand still wrapped in a cast; early enrollee NaJee Toran looks like the clear No. 2 behind him.

Guard John Lopez was also absent from practice, forcing even more juggling through the unit.

“It’s hard, and they’re going to make mistakes,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “But in the long run, it makes them understand how all five fit together.”

– Mazzone talked a bit about the development of redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard, who will most likely claim the backup quarterback spot over Jerry Neuheisel by the start of the season. Neuheisel actually looks much more composed and mistake-free than he did even nine months ago, but Woulard’s upside is so much higher. Continue reading

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Spring notes: Noel Mazzone talks about Brett Hundley’s progress

– Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone talked more about quarterback Brett Hundley’s development over the past few months. Mazzone said Hundley is familiar enough with the playbook that he sometimes looks away from the sideline after just one hand signal.

– UCLA continues to run a lot of nickel defense, with safety Tahaan Goodman usually coming in as the fifth defensive back. The former four-star recruit played mostly special teams as a true freshman last season, and ended up with 12 tackles and two pass breakups.

When he gets on the field, rising senior Anthony Jefferson slides down to cornerback. Continue reading

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Coordinator Noel Mazzone grades UCLA’s offensive line

Today’s notebook focuses again on UCLA’s trio of freshman linemen, whom offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone gave a B-/C+ grade.

– As he’s done all weeek, UCLA head coach Jim Mora continued lauding the virtues of El Paso and the Sun Bowl.

“What I’ve really enjoyed about the Sun Bowl is the events,” he said. “I’ll tell you why: a lot of bowl games — not that I’ve been to a lot — is you go to events and you kind of separate. They’ve done a great job at the Sun Bowl of creating events where you come together. Our team has gotten to spend a whole lot of time together.” Continue reading

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Notes and quotes: UCLA holds off Arizona in big division win

First, the stories that appear in today’s edition of the Los Angeles Daily News:
– UCLA breaks its four-game losing streak in Tucson with a superlative two-way effort from freshman Myles Jack.
– Columnist Vinny Bonsignore, with a look at quarterback Brett Hundley’s performance.

More notes and quotes from the wild 31-26 win at Arizona Stadium, which kept the Bruins in control of their own postseason destiny:

– A lot has been and will be written about Jack, so for now, let’s stick with a roundup of comments from coaches and teammates.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had high praise too: “The guy is a great athlete, a great player. He’ll be a first-round pick as a linebacker. We tried to recruit him as a running back.” Continue reading

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UCLA 31, Arizona 26: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone


UCLA has used as many as five true freshmen on offense at once this season, which hasn’t made it easy on offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s pysche.

“The only thing more stressful to me than during a game, watching all my 18 year olds running around, is when I sent my beautiful 18-year-old daughter to college by herself,” he said. “That’s the only thing that was more stressful.”

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Noel Mazzone on Damien Thigpen’s expanding role


Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone talked about running back Damien Thigpen’s potential to stretch out opposing defenses — with the ability to turn a 4-yard run into 20 yards.

Also used as a slot receiver and returner while Johnathan Franklin became UCLA’s all-time leading rusher, Thigpen has a chance now to become more of a featured back.

“(Last year), we sneaked Thiggy around the field to get the ball to him,” Mazzone said. “Now, he’s a guy who can step in and be more of a focal point in the running game.

“Instead of the side dish, he can maybe be the true entree.”

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