VIDEO: Xavier Su’a-Filo talks about young offensive line


Thin and patchworked a year ago, UCLA’s offensive line has reinforced itself with a number of freshmen who are ready to play immediately. Those additions, talented as they may be, have also introduced new challenges.

“It’s a different learning experience,” said junior offensive guard Xavier Su’a-Filo. “We have a lot more younger guys than we did last year, so plugging them in, seeing who needs to learn more — or less — is going well. It’s nice not to have to take all the reps like we did in last year’s camp.”

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UCLA’s list of possible concussions swells to seven

Head cases have beset the Bruins this August.

Whether exacerbated by the San Bernardino heat or simply a bit of bad luck, seven UCLA players were sidelined Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms — taking a large chunk of the offensive line.

“I don’t know why we seem to have this rash of head injuries,” Mora said. “I’m not sure how serious all of them are, but we’re going to treat them all as if they’re very serious.”

The line was without redshirt sophomores Kevin McReynolds and Ben Wysocki, as well as true freshmen Alex Redmond, Poasi Moala and John Lopez. Redmond and Wysocki were competing at right guard, while Moala had taken the majority of second-team snaps at right tackle.

The attrition shuffled what was gradually becoming a more stable line. In one first-team iteration, All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo moved from guard to left tackle, while backup center Carl Hulick slid to left guard.

“It kind of affects everything you do,” Mora said. “It affects the development of the depth. It affects our ability to practice the way we’d like to practice. We just have to modify it.”

Added Su’a-Filo: “When we have the luxury of numbers, we can run, one, two, three groups. With these concussions, we’ve just got to take more reps. We’ve got to make do with what we have.”

Defensive Ian Taubler and running back Malcolm Jones are also out with concussion-like symptoms.

OTHER INJURIES

Freshman defensive end Kylie Fitts suffered full-body cramps. Mora said he drank enough water afterward to gain 8.5 pounds. Junior linebacker Eric Kendricks has missed all team activities in fall camp recovering from an ankle procedure. He is expected to play in the Aug. 31 season opener, and may return to practice next week. Continue reading

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Right guard rotation key to improving UCLA’s offensive line


SAN BERNARDINO — After one of the worst practices he’d ever seen, Adrian Klemm was asked how comfortable he felt with his offensive line.

Frustrated, the UCLA assistant coach said he expected to start two or three true freshmen.

After the Bruins started preseason training camp in San Bernardino, Klemm clarified: He meant that two or three of his seven freshmen will compete for, not necessarily win, a spot.

“More often than not, they’re not as technically sound as you’d like them to be,” said Klemm, who was named Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. “We have three or four of those guys that are physically close.

“We have probably three of them that have a long ways (to go) in terms of body composition. Two that came in pretty poor shape.” Continue reading

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Full Pac-12 podium transcript: Jim Mora, Anthony Barr, Xavier Su’a-Filo

COACH JIM MORA: First of all, thanks to everybody for coming out today. We’re excited to be here and I’m excited to be sitting between these two fine, young men, great student‑athletes, the pillars of our program, both great players, better young men. I think they are great ambassadors for UCLA and college football in general. We’re excited about the direction of our program.

We made some progress last year, and I think these two guys would tell you we’re nowhere close to where we want to be. We have a vision, we’re headed in the right direction but we have challenges we have to overcome this year in order to become the team that we desire to be.

First and foremost in those challenges is we have a very depleted secondary and we’re going to be playing four players back there, or five or six, whatever package we’re in that really haven’t played, ever, at this level. So that will be a challenge. Our schedule is a challenge. This conference that we play in is a challenge, but I think these young men would tell you that being the competitors that they are and we are as a football team we relish those challenges. We can’t wait for those challenges, we embrace ‘em and look forward to ‘em and we’re going to rise up to ‘em. We’re excited to be here, welcome your questions, and thank you.

Q: Coach, as a new coach last season you made some risky moves, maybe because of the fact that you were new. Can we expect similar risky moves in place this season? Continue reading

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UCLA leads Butkus Award watch list

UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt all made the 51-man watch list for the Butkus Award. The Bruins tied BYU with three players on the list, the most of any team.

Barr and offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo were also mentioned for the Lombardi Award watch list, though that ballooned to over 100 names. The award is given to a down lineman on either side of the ball, or linebacker who lines up within five yards of the ball.

No UCLA player has ever won either award. The Pac-12′s last Lombardi winner was Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs (2002), and its last Butkus winner was USC’s Chris Claiborne (1998).

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Fall camp preview: Offensive line

With less than four weeks until the start of UCLA’s fall camp, let’s examine each of the Bruins’ position groups as they try and best last season’s 9-5 record — the program’s highest win total since 2005.

First, the offensive line, one of UCLA’s most problematic areas last season. A thin and relatively inexperienced unit, the Bruins’ line gave up 52 sacks and committed numerous penalties. After landing seven touted freshmen, it could be the most improved group on the roster.

Key returners: Continue reading

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How much NFL talent does UCLA have?

NFL teams drafted four Bruins in April, the highest number for UCLA since 2005. Could the school best that mark next spring?

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked the 25 college programs with the most talent for the 2014 draft. The Bruins made the cut, along with four other Pac-12 teams:

No. 22: UCLA — 7 prospects (among draft-eligible players)
No. 21: Washington — 7 Continue reading

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Three Bruins land on national award watch lists

UCLA is holding its own as college football enters watch-list season, putting three players on the national speculation bubble today.

Quarterback Brett Hundley and All-American linebacker Anthony Barr are two of 75 names on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, presented to the best player in the country. Barr was one of only six defensive players mentioned. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was the last Maxwell winner, with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck taking the honor in 2011.

Barr was also named to the 75-man watch list for the Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player. He is joined there by linebacker Eric Kendricks, whose 150 tackles last season led the Pac-12.

Both also made the Lott Trophy watch list in May. Center Jake Brendel was named to the Rimington Award watch list that month.

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Anthony Barr, Xavier Su’a-Filo to represent UCLA at Pac-12 Media Day

Linebacker Anthony Barr and offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo will represent UCLA at next month’s Pac-12 Media Day. Sony Studios Lot in Culver City will host the event on July 26.

Neither is a surprising choice given their status as potential All-Americans, but the conference better make sure the mics are working perfectly: Barr is one of the softest speakers on the team.

The rest of the media day lineup: Continue reading

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