UCLA: Dylan Wynn

Lunch links: Big commit for Cats

April, 28, 2014
4/28/14
2:30
PM PT
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

Spring position breakdowns: DE

March, 4, 2014
3/04/14
9:20
PM PT
Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues.

Arizona: Coach Rich Rodriguez is confident in both Reggie Gilbert and Dan Pettinato and anxious to get junior-college transfers Jeff Worthy, who also spent a year at Boise State, and Jerod Cody acclimated to the system. Calvin Allen, Jack Banda and Luca Bruno are coming off redshirt seasons and represent a group Rodriguez said the team needs production from.

Arizona State: With the departure of Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman, there is a question about the team's depth at end. Without Will Sutton clogging things up next year, the Sun Devils' lack of experience is even more of a concern. Sean O'Grady backed up Conway and Coleman last year, but ASU has several well-regarded junior-college transfers in Edmond Boateng, Marcus Hardison and Demetrius Cherry.

California: The Bears list seven defensive ends, but former junior-college transfer Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa gained the most experience last season listed at the rush position. Antione Davis was outgoing starter Dan Camporeale's primary backup, but Brennan Scarlett's return is more important. He started nine games in 2012 and has been cleared to play following a hand issue that cost him the 2013 season. Todd Barr, Sione Sina and recent-transfer Jonathan Johnson are also in the mix.

Colorado: Colorado must replace Chidera Uzo-Diribe, but Juda Parker is back for his senior season, and several others have game experience. Samson Kafovalu is the likely candidate to start opposite him after making 18 tackles in seven games last year. Jimmie Gilbert was Uzo-Diribe's backup, Kirk Poston and De'Jon Wilson also played.

Oregon: The Ducks took a hit with the departure of Taylor Hart, who was named second-team All-Pac-12, but have a talented player in Arik Armstead lined up to take his spot. Armstead started five times in 2013 and left the basketball team midseason to shift his focus back to football. T.J. Daniel, Jason Sloan are projected to be in the mix for playing time.

Oregon State: Scott Crichton is gone, but Dylan Wynn remains and will likely be the Beavers' best defensive player a year after finishing fourth on the team in tackles. Lavonte Barnett, Crichton's primary backup in 2013, and Jaswha James figure to compete for the starting job, but there are two others to keep an eye on. Obum Gwacham recently switched from receiver and Mike Riley has been complimentary of Titus Failauga, who is coming off his redshirt.

Stanford: Henry Anderson has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the conference and Blake Lueders, who switched from OLB, began the spring atop the depth chart. The intriguing prospect is Luke Kaumatule, who was recruited to play defense but began 2013 as the team's starting tight end. Spring will be important for his development, but his raw ability is impressive.

UCLA: Both Ellis McCarthy and Eddie Vanderdoes were all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season and highlight a talented UCLA defensive line. Their return will help account for the loss of Cassius Marsh, who started 12 games last year. Both McCarthy and Vanderdoes can play inside or outside, but the Bruins listed them both at end. Highly recruited DE Kylie Fitts saw playing time as a true freshman last season, and Keenan Graham and Brandon Willis will provide depth.

USC: Leonard Williams, the only sophomore named first-team all-Pac-12 on defense last season, is the best in the conference. Delvon Simmons, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech, has a lot of game experience. He started 12 games for the Red Raiders in 2012 and had regular playing time as a freshman there in 2011. Both Simmons and J.R. Tavai, who was an all-Pac-12 honorable mention selection, can play inside or outside.

Utah: There's no replacing Trevor Reilly, who made 100 tackles despite lingering effects from a torn ACL, but Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick both saw extensive playing time last season. The Utes have five other defensive ends on the roster, but of that group only LT Filiaga made a tackle last season.

Washington: The Huskies are in great shape with the return of Hau'oli Kikaha, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection, Cory Littleton and Evan Hudson. Josh Shirley has 10 career starts, while Joe Mathis and Psalm Wooching provide depth.

Washington State: With Toni Pole expected to move back inside, the depth chart will look similar to how it did going into last season, minus Matt Bock. After making 50 tackles last year, Xavier Cooper will start on one side, with Destiny Vaeao and Lyman Faoliu strong candidates for more playing time. Emmitt Su'a-Kalio is coming off a redshirt, and the Cougars also signed a pair of defensive ends from Hawaii in Kingston Fernandez and Hercules Mata'afa.

Previous positions

Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle

First look: Oregon State at UCLA

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
11:29
AM PT
Here is what the No. 19 UCLA Bruins know about this week's opponent, Oregon State:

1. The team nickname is the Beavers
2. The Beavers defeated Wisconsin in Week 2
3. Oregon State is in Corvallis, Ore.

Although that might be a slight exaggeration, it's not all that far off, considering that victory over Wisconsin is the only game Oregon State has played this season. The Beavers (1-0) are coming off of a previously-scheduled bye week and had their first game against Nicholls State postponed because the Louisiana school had travel problems caused by Hurricane Issac.

Apparently, the Beavers don't think much of themselves because they rescheduled that game for Dec. 1, the day after the Pac-12 championship game. UCLA coach Jim Mora however, thinks plenty of the team he will face at the Rose Bowl Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in a Pac-12 conference opener that will be televised on ABC and ESPN2.

"They're a good football team," Mora said. "They’re a very physical team, they run the ball well and play excellent on defense and they are very well coached. They tackle well. It’ll be a stiff test for us, but I think we’re excited for it."

Mora and his coaching staff are almost all new, so most weren't around for UCLA's 27-19 victory over the Beavers in Corvallis last year. That's even more of an issue considering the lack of game film available on this year's Oregon State team.

The Beavers surprised the country with their 10-7 victory over a Wisconsin team that was ranked No. 13 at the time. In that game they held Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy candidate and 1,923-yard rusher last season, to 61 yards in 15 carries.

It's that type of run defense that stood out on film to Mora and has him worried about Oregon State's ability to take away a UCLA run game that currently ranks No. 5 in the nation at 311.33 yards per game.

"I don't know if I want to see more than one game the way they payed Wisconsin," Mora said. "They really looked good. Really good."

The strength of Oregon State's 4-3 defense is a stout line, led by end Scott Chricton, a freshman All-American last season. Dylan Wynn, the other end, is also a high energy guy that will cause problems and tackle Castro Masaniai is a 350-pound space eater. Oregon State held Wisconsin to 35 yards rushing as a team, thanks to three sacks.

On the back end, corner back Jordan Poyer is among the best in the nation at his position. He was a second-team all Pac-12 selection last year and UCLA will remember his 85-yard punt return for a touchdown just before halftime last season.

On offense, Oregon State runs a balanced attack. Quarterback Sean Mannion, who made his first career start against UCLA last year, returns after earning freshman All-American honors last year. He passed for 3,328 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman and had 276 against Wisconsin.

His top target figures to be Markus Wheaton, a multi-talented athlete who led the team in receptions last season and is equally dangerous when running the fly sweeps and end-arounds that are a staple of the Oregon State offense. Freshman Storm Woods and sophomore Malcolm Agnew split the tailback duties, though Oregon State rushed for only 78 yards against the Badgers two weeks ago.

"They're different than any of the three teams that we've faced," said Mora, whose squad has gone up against three spread offenses so far. "They're a little more conventional."

As far as who has the advantage in a situation where one team has played three games and the other has played only one, Mora wasn't quite sure.

"It probably works in the favor of both," Mora said. "They'll be well-prepared, they'll have a lot of film on us. Our guys will have played a little bit more in games. I still think it just comes down to who executes, who plays harder, who makes tackles, who tries to stay away from costly penalties, things like that."

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