UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure talked about how impressive defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa looked in last weekend’s season opener at Virginia — but admitted he may have played the senior a little too much. He also reviewed the career debuts of true freshmen Matt Dickerson and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.
Playing in his first game since 2012, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa returned from multiple hip surgeries and looked like a star in UCLA’s 28-20 win at Virginia. The senior shared his thoughts about the Bruins’ season opener, one in which he helped cause two interceptions — both quickly turning into touchdowns.
After a star performance in UCLA’s 28-20 win over Virginia, linebacker Eric Kendricks was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
The senior recorded a game-high 16 tackles against the Cavaliers, but also made two more highlight plays: forcing a fumble that turned into a 75-yard touchdown return for safety Randall Goforth, and taking back a pick-six of his own a few minutes later.
Despite all that, he didn’t seem satisfied.
“I left a lot of stuff on the field,” Kendricks said Monday. “I can improve every week. I made a lot of little rookie mistakes. … If you watch the film, you’d see that I made some key mistakes in the pass game as far as drops and stuff like that, so I’m gonna get back to it.” Continue reading
» UCLA voted on team captains last Thursday, and Jim Mora announced the picks Tuesday morning. Not a lot of surprises: on offense, quarterback Brett Hundley and center Jake Brendel; on defense, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa; on special teams, linebacker Ryan Hofmeister and fullback Taylor Lagace.
» Mora was confident that Brendel, who is recovering from an MCL injury, will be ready to play in the Bruins’ Aug. 30 season opener at Virginia.
Cornerback Marcus Rios (migraines) is seeing a specialist today. He missed a number of practices in San Bernardino before returning late in the week for sideline work. Continue reading
UCLA escaped the Inland Empire relatively unscathed. Most of its starters are healthy, as are the team’s myriad rotation players. The most notable players sidelined — center Jake Brendel (MCL) and receiver Devin Lucien (head) — are both expected to return soon.
Without a major shakeup anywhere on the depth chart, what did the Bruins learn from their annual two-week training camp at Cal State San Bernardino?
The defense will survive its losses Continue reading
UCLA’s new defensive look has given Eddie Vanderdoes a chance to play three-technique tackle more often, lining between opposing guards and tackles. The sophomore lineman talked about why he likes the move, and also offered high praise for his teammates — particularly senior defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
» Mossi Johnson appears to have avoided the worst. After leaving Monday’s practice with a left shoulder injury, he returned on Tuesday to participate in some light individual drills.
Head coach Jim Mora said Johnson — a surprise performer at inside receiver this spring — was diagnosed with a second-degree AC sprain. Johnson will likely be held out of full contact for two weeks, but an earlier return isn’t out of the question either.
In addition to being an obvious physical setback, a serious injury could have dealt a heavy emotional blow to a player that had already grayshirted the 2013 season to rehab multiple torn knee ligaments.
Elsewhere on the injury front, true freshman linebacker Cameron Griffin left Tuesday’s practice with a shoulder injury of uncertain severity. Linebacker Zach Whitley has been somewhat limited the first two days due to cramps.
» Tuesday’s best play can be credited to Myles Jack, who snatched a remarkable interception during one-on-one drills. Continue reading
» Brett Hundley led UCLA with 748 rushing yards last season, but head coach Jim Mora emphasized at Pac-12 Media Days that his quarterback is — first and foremost — a passer.
“I say that about Brett because people have a tendency at times to see an African-American quarterback and say he’s a runner,” Mora said. “And I hate that stereotype. I always have. I coached Mike Vick. I believe we stereotype those guys started with that, and I don’t want that to happen with Brett.
“I’m going to make sure it doesn’t. It shouldn’t. The guy’s a passer, man, but he can run.”
» Mora smiled when asked about the weather in San Bernardino, where UCLA will start training camp on Aug. 4: “I hope it’s hot. I would just like us to be in triple digits. As long as we’re in triple digits, I’ll be happy.”
Unlike last summer, UCLA will not go down to San Diego for a three-day pre-camp session with Navy SEALs. Mora said the experience helped his team later in the season — particularly when it needed to bond together through the death of receiver Nick Pasquale — but didn’t want to dull the impact by repeating it too often.
» What does two-way superstar Myles Jack have in store for his sophomore season? Not even his teammates are sure.
“I’m excited,” said linebacker Eric Kendricks. “I don’t even know what to expect. He put on 15 (pounds) of muscle. He’s gotten so much stronger. He’s been working hard. That’s all you can ask of a guy. He doesn’t let any of this hype, this circle of fame get to his head.” Continue reading
But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.
Without further ado …
Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil
Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.
Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Jaelen Strong
A solid quintet that lacks a superstar.
Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia
A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading
Spring football is done, and over three months still stand between us and the start of UCLA’s third season under Jim Mora — one that comes with national title aspirations and accompanying media glare. Over the next week, this blog will cover each of the Bruins’ position groups. Next up …
The star power is there. Just look at Owamagbe Odighizuwa, the former five-star recruit who doesn’t look like he’s missed a step after hip surgeries. Or Eddie Vanderdoes, another five-star defensive end who more than lived up to the billing as a Freshman All-American. Or Kenny Clark, the mammoth nose tackle whom defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich already called one of the team’s best players.
The unit’s only significant loss was defensive end Cassius Marsh, who finished second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and even chipped in a two-yard touchdown catch. Tackle Seali’i Epenesa and sack specialist Keenan Graham also graduated, but both saw their roles dwindle to varying degrees toward the end of the season. Continue reading