Eddie Vanderdoes knows how to make an exit. (@puntingiswinning)
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?
UCLA completed its two-week training camp in Cal State San Bernardino an hour-long, no-helmet “mock game” on Saturday. Head coach Jim Mora talked about his impressions of the Bruins, including position groups that have assuaged his concerns.
» A linebacker competition that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich called “wide open” last week might be near close. True freshman Kenny Young has nearly locked down the inside spot. Outside, redshirt junior Aaron Wallace has been used most in the base scheme, while sophomore Deon Hollins gets a lot of play in the nickel formation.
“There are some frontrunners, but it’s not done,” Ulbrich said. “It’s not over with.”
The odd man out is junior Kenny Orjioke, who at 19 years old still hasn’t fully put together his athletic gifts. Ulbrich talked up Orjioke’s versatility, but hinted that the 6-foot-4, 235-pound outside linebacker is a little behind the others.
“He’s a great guy that, if he doesn’t earn the starting spot, will get a ton of paying time,” Ulbrich said. “He’ll spell Deon. He’ll spell Wallace. He’ll be involved in both facets of the defense. That’s a guy we’ll take advantage of for sure.”
» Asked if UCLA’s defense looks tougher now than it did two years, Ulbrich agreed. Continue reading →
If healthy, Conor McDermott could be a starting tackle at UCLA. The redshirt sophomore played just two games last season in October before injuring his shoulder — which had already been operated on back in high school.